Evening Primrose

Scientific Name/Common Name: Oenothera biennis / Evening Primrose

Part(s) Used: Seed oil

Constituents/Active Ingredients: The natural clear yellow to yellow-green oil contains: Fatty acids with not less than 8% gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The peroxide value should be less than 10 meq/kg oil and free fatty acids should be less than 10 mg KOH/g. Efamol® brand Evening Primrose Oil has 12% GLA.

Overview: Evening Primrose Oil products consist of the oil of dried, ripe seed of Oenothera biennis. Evening primrose oil is a good source of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), a biologically important fatty acid normally produced within the human body from enzymatic conversion of linoleic acid (omega-6 EFA) into its longer-chain derivatives. EFAs are “good” fats that are precursors to various prostaglandins and leukotrienes—and are as necessary for health as vitamins. GLA is associated with beneficial anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. GLA is also a precursor for dihomogamma-linolenic acid, found concentrated in human breast milk. Prostaglandins and leukotrienes influence inflammation and pain so having the right balance of precursor EFA’s in the diet can be critical for avoiding inflammatory diseases. Having an excess of bad fats in the diet, such as trans fats or unnatural hydrogenated fats, can disrupt enzyme pathways needed to convert the precursor EFAs to their important metabolites and this can increase pain and inflammation. Taking GLA helps to swing the balance over to the more favorable prostaglandins and leukotrienes, making it helpful for diseases that involve inflammation. Clinical trials have demonstrated benefits with GLA for treating diabetic neuropathy, eczema, and improving the quality and appearance of normal skin.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems: Source of essential fatty acids; helps prevent premature aging by reducing wrinkles and maintains healthy elasticity and firmness in skin; helps treat eczema/atopic dermatitis; helps relieve diabetic neuropathy.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Morse NL, Clough PM. A meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials of Efamol evening primrose oil in atopic eczema. Where do we go from here in light of more recent discoveries? Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2006 Dec;7(6):503-24. Review.

Muggli R . Systemic EPO improves biophysical skin parameters in healthy adults. Int J of Cosmetic Science. 2005;27(4):243-249.

Horrobin DF.,The roles of essential fatty acids in the development of diabetic neuropathy and other complications of diabetes mellitus.Prostaglandins Leukotriens Essential Fatty Acids (1988): Reviews 31:181-197.

Disclaimer: This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.