Evening Primrose

Are you familiar with the uses and benefits of evening primrose? Here is an introduction to this wonderful herb.

The evening primrose (oenothera biennis) is native to North America, where it grows like a weed. Not really a primrose, it is sometimes called the “evening star” or “sun drop.” This big yellow flower opens late in the day and lasts only one evening, then produces an abundance of small seeds.

Evening primrose that is used for herbal medicines is cultivated commercially. Hundreds of tons of seeds each year are grown in the United States and Canada. Fatty acids are the only part of evening primrose that is currently used, derived from the seeds. The plant is edible and is used in many parts of the world in pickles and soups.

Active Ingredients

A large portion of evening primrose oil is cis-linoleic acid, and about 9% is GLA (Gamma linoleic acid). GLA can be converted to a hormone-like compound called prostaglandin. Evening primrose oil also contains beta-sitosterol and campestrol.


Evening primrose oil is used on a wide variety of ailments, including reducing PMS symptoms (notably breast tenderness and cyclical mood swings), hot flashes due to menopause, weight loss without dieting, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, reversing brain and nerve damage in diabetics, atopic dermatitis and can even help to relieve hangovers.

Doses and Precautions

Evening primrose oil is available in extracts or 500-milligram capsules. An average dose is one or two capsules, two or three times a day, with a maximum dose for an adult of four grams. It may take up to three months to see symptoms subside in some conditions. There are no special precautions to take while using evening primrose.

Sides Effects or Interactions

There are no known side effects in taking evening primrose oil, as long as you adhere to not taking it in large quantities. With evening primrose oil, more doesn’t make it better.

A possible interaction may happen to individuals who have schizophrenia and are taking phenothiazine drugs such as Trilafon, Thorazine, Sparine, Mellaril, Compazine and Stelazine. GLA from seeds or extract is not recommended as they can increase the risk of temporal lobe epileptic seizure when combined with these drugs.

In addition, Wellbutrin and other anti-depressants may lower the seizure threshold and may also interact with evening primrose oil.

In closing, if you are looking to try an herbal remedy that may help the nagging symptoms of menopause or PMS, another alternative to lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, or that can be an aid to help suffering from debilitating diseases such as arthritis, lupus and multiple sclerosis, then trying evening primrose oil rich with Gamma-Linoleic acid may be right for you. Just remember to use wisely.