Evening primrose oil – Health benefits, properties and side effects

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Evening primrose oil is an oil that is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. The plant is native to America and some parts of Europe and is mainly harvested for its seeds and roots which are believed to contain medicinal value. The evening primrose oil has a faint, nutty taste that many people find pleasant. However, if the evening primrose oil tastes bitter or bad, discard it as it turns rancid fairly quickly.

It is most commonly used as a dietary supplement because of its rich gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content. About 80% of the oil is composed of GLA – an essential omega-6 fatty acid that is physiologically important for the body. GLA contains strong anti-inflammatory properties whose efficacy is on par with conventional anti-inflammatory drugs and is used to treat auto-immune diseases today.

Evening primrose oil benefits

The medicinal properties of the evening primrose oil can mostly be attributed to its high GLA content. It is currently used extensively in the medical and pharmaceutical industry and is manufactured as a dietary supplement in pill or capsule form to increase shell life.

Medicinal use

The potential for the evening primrose oil to be used in the medical industry was discovered about a century ago when it effectively cured a case of eczema. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties and can instantly calm irritated skin or skin redness. Today, it is used as a natural treatment for any conditions which involve inflammation or itching. Some common examples include dermatitis, skin rashes, rheumatoid arthritis and acne.

The evening primrose oil is also used by women to help reduce breast pain caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other hormonal problems. In some cases, it is reported to be helpful as a supplement for the treatment of breast cancer and diabetes.

Evening Primrose Oil Side Effects

The ingestion of the evening primrose oil is generally regarded as safe when taken in moderate amounts. Side effects are rare but include dizziness, headaches, itching, abdominal pain, soft stools and nausea. Please note that the above is not a complete list and does not list down every possible side effect from using the evening primrose oil. Contact your doctor or a medical professional for a more elaborate description.
Immediately stop the use of evening primrose oil if you experience any of these side effects. Allergies toward the evening primrose oil are uncommon but confirm that you are not allergic to it before use.

Some medications can possibly interact with the evening primrose oil and cause undesirable and even adverse effects. These include but are not limited to antidepressants, anticoagulants and hypertension drugs. Please check with your health care provider before using the oil in accordance with other drugs.

Also, avoid using it after a surgery as it slows down the blood clotting process.

Using Evening Primrose Oil During Pregnancy

It is advised not to consume evening primrose oil during pregnancy as it may cause certain complications (albeit unlikely).

Although the side effects might sound scary, they are relatively uncommon and in most cases, evening primrose oil can be used safely as either an alternative medicine for various skin conditions or as a healthy dietary supplement.

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