10 Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The benefits of evening primrose oil include its ability to soothe inflammation, strengthen the bones, promote good skin health, balance hormones, lower cholesterol, optimize digestion, regulate blood sugar levels, prevent hair loss, ease pain and aid in weight loss efforts.

There are a number of possible side effects associated with evening primrose oil, including dangerously low blood pressure, bleeding problems, complications for people with various neurological diseases, allergic reactions, and a range of gastrointestinal, inflammatory and psychological effects. However, when taken in moderation, and after checking with a doctor about your particular condition, the use of this oil should not pose any major risks to most people.

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil is a powerful natural remedy that is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. With the scientific name Oenothera biennis,  [1]this plant is native to North America, particularly the eastern and northern regions. However, it has been naturalized in other temperate regions after it was discovered how beneficial the oil could be. Packed with unsaturated fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), linolenic acid and various other omega-6 fatty acids. These are the main drivers behind the many health benefits of this oil, in addition to trace amounts of other plant sterols, phytonutrients, and volatile compounds.

Primrose oil in an ingredient bowl with primrose flowers aside

Primrose oil has been touted as a remedy for everything from acne and PMS to high blood pressure. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This oil has been used traditionally for centuries, and now enjoys a wide range of applications in natural medicine. For that reason, there have also been quite a few studies done on the potential benefits of evening primrose oil, adding validity to many traditional and anecdotal accounts.

Evening Primrose Oil Benefits

Evening primrose oil is popularly used by people who suffer from poor hair health, inflammatory conditions, osteoporosis, indigestion, diabetes, chronic pain, obesity, acne, and hormonal imbalances.

Prevents Acne

The high level of omega-6 fatty acids found in evening primrose oil can have a powerful effect on the skin, particularly for symptoms of acne. It can reduce the inflammation to those areas, increase the speed of healing and regrowth of new cells, and diminish the appearance of scars and blemishes.

Skin Care

This oil is also good for other inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as psoriasis and eczema, and can protect wounds and cuts from infection. Furthermore, there are certain antioxidant properties of this oil that can help you prevent wrinkles and other age marks, while also boosting the elasticity of your skin and making you look younger for longer! [2]

Controls Diabetes

Studies have linked evening primrose oil to lower blood sugar levels, but more importantly, the gamma-linolenic acid found in this oil can protect against neuropathy, which is a common secondary condition that diabetic patients develop. This chronic nerve damage can be mitigated or even reversed with the regular use of this oil. [3]

Weight Loss

Research has been conducted on the weight loss effects of evening primrose oil and when consistently used in moderation, it can help to shed pounds by boosting the metabolism and balancing out your cholesterol levels. [4]

Improves Fertility

Evening primrose oil is able to stimulate blood circulation within the body, which can help many areas of the body, including a lack of blood flow in the male reproductive organ. By reducing plaque in the blood vessels and boosting blood flow, this oil can counter impotence and infertility. [5]

Good Hormonal Effects

There are many different hormonal effects of this oil, ranging from improving conditions like acne to reducing hair loss in men and women, as well as minimizing the symptoms of menopause and menstruation, due to the oil’s preventative effect on the production of prostaglandins. This is particularly good for eliminating menstrual cramps and preventing menopausal hot flashes. [6]

Relieves Pain

For pain relief, many people turn to the evening primrose oil, due to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. This has been shown to be particularly true for breast pain, which many women experience for varying reasons. Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis have also found surprising relief from the regular use of this oil, according to numerous studies. [7]

Hair Care

The hormonal balance that evening primrose oil gives the body can counter the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which has recently been linked to male pattern baldness. By consuming this oil or applying it topically to the scalp, you can significantly prolong the life of your luscious locks! [8]

Boosts Heart Health

While adding more fat to your diet doesn’t sound like the best way to keep your heart healthy, evening primrose oil can stimulate circulation and reduce plaque buildup in blood vessels and arteries. This can improve oxygenation of various organ systems and lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke. Those with pre-existing cholesterol problems should not use this oil before speaking with their doctor. [9]

Prevents Osteoporosis

One of the most well-documented effects of evening primrose oil is the effect it can have on bone mineral density. Numerous studies have linked regular use of evening primrose oil to less bone loss as we age, and a lower risk of osteoporosis. [10]

Side Effects of Evening Primrose Oil

There are quite a few notable side effects of evening primrose oil, including complications with other medical conditions, bleeding disorders, hypotension, allergic reactions and other symptoms affecting the gastrointestinal, nervous, respiratory and immune systems. Responsible use of this oil is essential, as the side effects can be severe when an excessive amount is consumed.

  • Blood Pressure – Since evening primrose oil is known to lower blood pressure, which is a good thing for heart health, it can also cause hypotension in people who are also taking blood pressure-lowering medication. Speak with your doctor if you have heart disease or are on other medications before using evening primrose oil.
  • Diabetes – This oil is also able to regulate blood sugar in diabetic patients, and prevent dangerous spikes and drops in glucose and insulin levels. However, this can lead to hypoglycemia if combined with other medications, which can cause lightheadedness, cognitive confusion, weakness, and fatigue.
  • Allergic Reactions – There have been many different reports of allergic reactions to evening primrose oil, particularly when consumed in large amounts. The most common side effects include skin irritation, rash, itching, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, irritability, strange dreams, and insomnia. If you experience these side effects, discontinue use of this oil.
  • Neurological Side Effects – For people who suffer from epilepsy and other neurological or nervous disorders, always speak to your doctor before adding evening primrose oil to your health regimen. This oil has been linked to increasing seizures, causing severe migraines, and exacerbating other nervous system conditions.
  • Bleeding Issues – Evening primrose oil has been associated with lower blood clotting, making this potentially dangerous for people with bleeding disorders, as well as those who are undergoing surgery in the near future.
  • Pregnancy – There is a lack of research on the specific effects of evening primrose oil, although anecdotal reports say that it can actually extend the length of labor, so it is generally not recommended for pregnant women.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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