Evening primrose is a plant that has a long history in the use of traditional medicine, especially among the peoples of North America, where it originates. Nowadays, it also grows in Europe and in some parts of Asia. It is a summer herb with small yellow flowers that open at dusk.
Although the Europeans who arrived in the Americas only saw it as an ornamental plant, the indigenous peoples used it both for food and for healing. In fact, an oil is extracted from the evening primrose that is used for medicinal purposes.
What is evening primrose oil for?
Obtained from the seeds of the evening primrose, evening primrose oil contains omega-6 essential fatty acids , as well as linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid . In principle, the presence of these components indicates that the product could serve to regulate cholesterol, stop the spread of malignant tumors, skin eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions.
As for its uses in tribal or alternative medicine, people consume it to treat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, dryness and irritations.
It is also given to relieve women's health conditions such as premenstrual syndrome, menopausal discomfort, endometriosis, polycystic ovaries, mastitis, or breast pain. Likewise, it is consumed during pregnancy to prevent certain problems such as preeclampsia and late births. We invite you to learn more about the properties of evening primrose oil for women by clicking on the link.
On the other hand, other uses of evening primrose oil cover a wide universe of diseases such as arthritis, hepatitis, cirrhosis, high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), irritable bowel syndrome , among other.
Evening primrose oil: contraindications and side effects
Despite its widespread use as an alternative product and the benefits of evening primrose oil , some research has questioned its effectiveness and has determined the contraindications of evening primrose oil , some of which are:
- Although its consumption is very popular among pregnant women , studies concluded that pregnant women should not consume it during this period, as it increases the risk of complications in the newborn, such as skin conditions and bruises.
- Hypertensive people should also not use evening primrose oil, whether they are undergoing treatment or not. Although negative interactions between hypertensives and the oil were not shown, it was concluded that the product tends to raise blood pressure.
- The oil increases the risk of bleeding , so it should be avoided by those taking anticoagulants or antiplatelets, as it enhances the effects of these drugs.
- The oil enhances the positive and negative effects of antiretrovirals , so those who follow a treatment with this type of drug may suffer its adverse effects with greater intensity.
- Evening primrose oil also increases the risk of seizure disorders such as epilepsy. People who have been under general anesthesia should avoid consuming it, as it can increase the likelihood of seizures.
As for the adverse effects of evening primrose oil , people may notice:
- Abdominal pain after consuming it
- Discomfort during digestion
- Softer stools than normal
Major consequences are not likely to occur unless, coincidentally, the person is allergic to evening primrose oil and does not know it. In that case, you may develop shortness of breath, skin rashes, and swelling of the hands and feet.
In any case, there is no conclusive evidence confirming the effectiveness of evening primrose oil in most of the health conditions for which it is taken. It cannot be said that it is totally ineffective, but since the results are mixed, specialists warn that it should be consumed with caution.
How to take evening primrose oil
There is no standard dose that determines how much evening primrose oil to take , it all depends on the criteria of the recommender based on the doses used in research, as well as the condition being treated. The capsules that are sold commercially contain around 450 and 500 mg. They usually take 2 to 6 capsules daily, spread over 2 or 3 times a day.
The most important thing is to start with minimal doses and then increase them, if desired. In this way, allergies or serious side effects are avoided, especially if there are contraindications.
But evening primrose oil is not only used orally. They also recommend applying it directly to the skin in case of skin disorders. The recommendation dictates reducing it to 20% in mineral oil or in a cream, as well as applying it twice a day for about 4 months.
How long can evening primrose oil be taken?
The time during which you can take evening primrose oil also depends on the disease you want to treat. For example, some recommend taking it for 6 months to treat premenstrual syndrome or menopausal symptoms. Learn more about How to take evening primrose to regulate your period by visiting our article about it.
Keep in mind, however, that changing your lifestyle and living healthier will do more to combat these conditions than taking evening primrose oil on its own.
When it comes to conditions such as arthritis and nerve pain caused by diabetes, it is recommended to take evening primrose oil for 6 to 12 months . For dermatitis and other skin conditions, it can be taken 2 or 3 times a day for up to 12 weeks .