Night blooming evening primrose, a North American wildflower, was known to Native Americans and early European settlers as a food and for the medicinal properties of its leaves and roots. Native Americans used the plant to treat bruises, minor wounds, gastrointestinal upsets, sore throats and other ailments. In the 1930’s, scientists discovered the therapeutic powers of the oil harvested from within the plant’s seeds. Evening primrose oil (EPO) contains a high concentration of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential omega-6 fatty acid. While many have an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, we all need dietary omega-6 essential fatty acids for good health. GLA is a more desirable anti-inflammatory form of omega-6 than linoleic acid (LA), which is found in processed cooking oils. While the body is capable of converting LA to GLA, it can only do so in limited amounts.
GLA is converted by the body to prostaglandins, physiologically active lipid compounds that have diverse hormone-like effects. As chemical messengers, working within the cells where they are synthesized, prostaglandins play a role in numerous bodily functions, including muscle contraction and relaxation, dilation and constriction of blood vessels, blood pressure control, immunity and inflammation modulation. Even though GLA is a necessary nutrient that the body cannot synthesize on its own, dietary sources are limited and include evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil and borage oil. Along with omega-3 essential fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a critical role in brain function, normal growth and development, bone health, metabolism, and skin and hair health.
Broad spectrum health benefits of evening primrose oil include:
Eczema – EPO may help alleviate the symptoms of eczema by supplying anti-inflammatory fatty acids that may be missing in those with eczema. Research has shown that those with eczema do not have the normal ability to process fatty acids, resulting in a deficiency. Studies have shown that GLA can help relieve eczema-related inflammation and relieve symptoms such as itching, redness and flaking associated with the condition.
Premenstrual syndrome – PMS may result from an impaired ability to convert linoleic acid to GLA. Science shows that GLA interferes with the production of inflammatory prostaglandins that are released during menstruation, helping to alleviate menstrual cramping and minimizing breast tenderness and carbohydrate cravings. GLA has long been used in Europe to help minimize breast inflammation and promote the absorption of iodine, found in abnormally low levels in women with fibrocystic breasts.
Rheumatoid arthritis – Studies have shown that EPO helps reduce joint pain, swelling and morning stiffness associated with RA. According to a study reported in the Lancet, GLA-rich EPO was found to be effective in controlling inflammatory symptoms of RA in 90% of participants who took EPO for 2 – 4 months.
Acne and rosacea – GLA helps to dilute sebum, the pore clogging oily substance over-secreted in those with acne. GLA helps to reduce symptoms of rosacea by reducing inflammation and producing prostaglandins that stimulate the contraction of blood vessels.
Nails, scalp and hair – GLA’s rich stores of essential fatty acids help to nourish the scalp and strengthen nails for overall health of nails, scalp and hair. Some studies have shown that GLA improves blood flow to the skin, supplying oxygen and nutrients for vibrant, radiant skin.
Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality brands of evening primrose oil:
OmegaGenics® Evening Primrose Oil by Metagenics – Sourced from pure evening primrose oil, this product supplies 416 mg of omega-6 fatty acids including 50mg of GLA in support of healthy cell membranes and overall health. Gluten free, non-GMO formulation.
Evening Primrose Oil, 100% Vegetarian Organic by Health From The Sun – Each vegan softgel provides 1,000 mg of organic evening primrose seed oil supplying 100 mg of GLA. Non-GMO, vegan formula.
Evening Primrose Oil 1300 mg by Ortho Molecular – This evening primrose seed oil provides 117 mg GLA per capsule in support of healthy skin, cardiovascular function and premenstrual comfort. Gluten and soy free.
ProPrimEve by Oakmont Labs – Each vegan softgel provides 1,000 mg of organic evening primrose seed oil supplying 100 mg of GLA. Non-GMO, vegan formula.
Evening Primrose Oil. http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-2841007
Evening Primrose Oil. http://wholehealthchicago.com/2009/05/12/evening-primrose-oil/
Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis). http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-evening-primrose.html