Evening Primrose oil (EPO) is obtained by the means of cold expression or shall we say, via solvent extraction from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant (Oenothera biennis). The resultant yield is light Amber in shade and a characteristic fatty essence. Historically, some theories suggest China to be the origin place of this plant and the modern theory of researchers conclude it as Native to North and South America and now widespread throughout Europe and parts of Asia.
It is also known by the names – Tree Primrose, Sun Cups, Sun drops, King’s cure-all, Evening star and Night Willow herb. Native Americans valued its mucilaginous stem and leaf juices as topical remedies to soothe acute inflammations, whereas poultices of the plant were used to treat bruises and minor wounds.
Internally, the leaves were used for gastrointestinal ailments and sore throats. It is fine quality oil and thus blends generously with most essential oils; especially Olive and Jojoba oils the seeds of the Evening Primrose are wealthy in terms of content of omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs) including Linoleic acid and γ -Linolenic acid (GLA). The therapeutic effects of EPO are attributed to the direct action of its component EFAs on immune cells as well as their indirect effect on the synthesis of Eicosanoids.
Dietary Ω-3 and Ω-6 EFAs can reduce the effects of highly unsaturated fatty acids in tissues and Eicosanoid actions which have been implicated in various inflammatory and immunologic pathogeneses.
Although consistent and quality evidential information is not available as of now, EPO is being extensively probed in aiding the treatment of diabetes mellitus, cancer, asthma, preeclampsia, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and attention-deficit/hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) in children.
Evening Primrose oil is one of the popular options of alternative therapy being a rich source of omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFA). Oral EPO is best known for its more recent use in the curing systemic diseases characterized by chronic inflammation. These are atopic dermatitis, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. The oil is widely used for several women’s health conditions, including breast pain (Mastalgia), menopausal and premenstrual symptoms (PMS), cervical ripening and inducing labor in about-to-deliver-the-baby women.
The use of Evening Primrose Carrier oil during pregnancy is not supported in the literature and should be avoided. Evening Primrose oil is generally well tolerated, with reported minor adverse effects, including gastrointestinal upset and headaches. Optimal dosing standards and treatment regimens await clarification in adequately powered clinical trials.