Many EmpowHER readers have recommended evening primrose oil for everything from menopause symptoms to mastalgia (breast pain) to heart health and eczema. Evening primrose oil is a flower and is native to North America.
Capsules or bottled oil can be found in drug stores or vitamin and health shops, costing anywhere from $6 to $30 depending on bottle size and organic options. It can be taken orally as a supplement or rubbed on the skin.
The reason this oil works is thought to be due to the essential fatty acid contents of the flower, called gamma-linolenic acid (GMA). GMA is an omega-6 fatty acid.
This fatty acid helps to reduce inflammation (thus helping with arthritis and other auto immune conditions) and has also helped with diabetic neuropathy, a condition that causes the decline of nerves and is brought on by diabetes.
In a 1993 study, over 100 diabetic patients were given either 480mg of primrose oil daily or a placebo and after one year, the patients using evening primroses oil showed that showed striking improvement in nerve generation.
For breast pain (called mastalgia) many women have found it to be helpful -- some EmpowHER readers simply rub the oil on the breast for pain relief and have also found supplements helpful for PMS or menopausal symptoms. Breast pain is thought to be connected to fatty acids in the body and since evening primrose oil is a healthy fatty acid, it's thought this addition can help with the pain.
Those with skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema have found benefits to their skin when taking evening primrose oil. Studies have varied regarding its effectiveness but it continues to be used in Asia and Europe with patients reporting better skin and fewer bouts of eczema and psoriasis outbreaks.
Talk with your health care provider if you think Evening Primrose Oil could be helpful for you.
Keen H, Payan J, Allawi J, et al. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy with gamma-linolenic acid. The gamma-Linolenic Acid Multicenter Trial Group. Diabetes Care. 1993;16:8-15.
EmpowHER.com. Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). Web. January 2, 2012.