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Evening Primrose Oil Benefits and Uses

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil, (Oenothera biennis L.), is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant, a perennial with yellow flowers commonly found in North and South America. Other names for the plant are tree primrose and sundrop. The oil extracted from the plant seeds is often put into capsules for internal medicinal use.

The flowers of the plant only open in the evening time, hence the name "evening primrose", and are yellow in most species but can be also white, purple, pink or red, there are four petals that make up the flower.

Evening primrose has been used as food and medicine throughout history, often for respiratory infections and upset stomachs. Young roots can be eaten like a vgetable and the shoots can be eaten as a salad. Native Americans ate the boiled, nutty peppery flavored root, and also used leaf poultices from the plant for bruises and hemorrhoids.

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is considered a useful dietary supplement because it is a good source of essential fatty acids. EPO contains an omega 6 essential fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is believed to be the active ingredient. The Oil is a natural, and one of the richest, sources of Gamma-Linolenic acid as it contains about 72% Linoleic acid and 9 percent GLA.

EPO has been studied in a wide variety of disorders, particularly those affected by metabolic products of essential fatty acids. Evening primrose oil is highly valuable to those who cannot otherwise form enough GLA. This would include those who do not get enough essential fatty acids in their diet, drink, have low thyroid function, or have received radiation treatment.

Preliminary studies are showing Evening Primrose Oil to be an anti-oxidant in that it also counter acts the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are most often associated with the aging process.

What are Some Uses of Evening Primrose Oil?

Yellow Evening Primrose Flower Menopause - Evening primrose oil is often used for conditions affecting women's health, such as breast pain associated with the menstrual cycle, menopausal symptoms, and premenstrual syndrome. PMS suffers were given evening primrose oil three times daily, 67% of the participants were symptom-free and 22% achieved partial relief.

Eczema - Evening primrose oil has been used since the 1930s for treating eczema. Eczema symptoms include redness and scaling in addition to itching. Evening primrose oil is approved for skin disorders in several countries outside of the United States.

Rheumatoid Arthritis - It is sometimes used for trating conditions involving inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoporosis - Primrose oil has been suggested as a possible treatment for bone loss and osteoporosis.

Heart Disease - Evening primrose oil has been used for decreasing the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.

Hangovers - EPO seems to ease the effects of alcohol withdrawal, hangovers, and alcohol poisoning.

Bronchitis - There is evidence that primrose oil, in combination with thyme, may have some benefits in the treatment of acute bronchitis.

Diabetes - Early studies suggest that evening primrose oil may be helpful in diabetes.

Diabetic Neuropathy - Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve condition sometimes caused by diabetes. Patients experience numbness, tingling, pain, burning, or lack of sensation in the feet and leg areas.

How do I Take Evening Primrose Oil?

EPO is often taken in 3 doses a day of 1000 to 2000 mg, which can contain 270 to 540 mg of GLA, an amount that is often used in research tests. Store in a cool, dry place and away from direct light.

EPO is generally considered safe, but it should be taken with food to avoid nausea. People with temporal lobe epilepsy should never take Evening Primrose Oil.

EPO may interfere with medications used to treat epilepsy and should be avoided by people taking anti epileptic drugs.

Note: EPO may also interact with:

non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
warfarin
aspirin
neuroleptic agents.

Where can I get Evening Primrose Oil?

You can get evening primrose oil in capsule form at any good health food store, some supermarkets, Walmart, Drug stores, and chemists.

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