Evening primrose oil is a high-quality oil that is obtained from the seeds of the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and has a high content of omega-6 fatty acids. Evening primrose oil can be used externally as a cream or pure oil, as well as internally by taking capsules. It is also available as an edible oil and is suitable, for example, for preparing salad dressings.
The exact effects and areas of application of evening primrose oil have not yet been fully researched. What is certain is that the oil has a very good care effect on dry skin. It is also used for inflammatory diseases and inflammatory processes of the joints. Studies suggest that it could be helpful in treating neurodermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, menopausal symptoms, premenstrual syndrome and coronary artery disease.
The links to the relevant studies can be found either directly in the text or at the end of this article under the sources.
Evening primrose oil - a brief overview
Here is a brief overview of evening primrose oil:
- Description: Evening primrose oil is extracted from the seeds of the common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) using the cold pressing process.
- Effect: The essential polyunsaturated fatty acids it contains can have a positive effect on cell metabolism and alleviate inflammatory processes.
- Application areas: The use of evening primrose oil is said to have a positive effect on various inflammatory diseases of the skin, such as neurodermatitis, acne, psoriasis, on diseases of the joints (for example polyarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis), inflammatory bowel diseases (for example ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) and on complaints during menopause, premenstrual syndrome, pollen allergy and coronary artery disease. In veterinary medicine, it is mainly used for various skin problems.
- Possible side effects: Abdominal pain and diarrhea very rarely occur after taking evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil can increase the sensitivity of the skin to light (has a photosensitizing effect), so it should not be used before sunbathing.
- Contraindications: When used internally for pregnant and lactating women, children and patients with epilepsy, it is advisable to seek medical advice before taking it. After external use, avoid sun exposure; therefore it is best to put it in the evening. Epileptics should also consult a doctor about their safety before using them externally.
- Note: Evening primrose oil should not be used before sunbathing and does not protect against UV radiation!
The evening primrose
The evening primrose is a plant that originally comes from North, Central and South America and found its way to Europe around four hundred years ago. Due to its relatively undemanding nature, it spread throughout Europe. There are a total of around two hundred different species.
The evening primrose is a biennial plant that grows on dry, stony soils. Their yellow flowers only open at dusk and exude a bewitching scent that attracts moths. Some species bloom from June; however, the main flowering period of the plant is July and August. Some species bloom until frost begins.
Production of evening primrose oil
Every single panicle of an evening primrose plant produces hundreds of seeds. When the plant dies, the seed chambers open. The tiny seeds are first cleaned after removal and then have to dry, since the water content in pressing evening primrose oil may not exceed nine percent. The oil is obtained by cold pressing, which means that the valuable ingredients are retained.
What should you look for when buying evening primrose oil?
Unfortunately, for reasons of cost and time, methods are often used today in which the healthy active ingredients are destroyed by high temperatures. In addition, the product can be contaminated with toxins, such as sprays that enter the body through the oil.
Therefore, when buying evening primrose oil, care should be taken to ensure purity, controlled organic cultivation and a gentle manufacturing process (cold pressing). The information "100% pure", "cold pressed" and a BIO seal or DE eco seal are good points of reference for high quality.
Storage of evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil quickly becomes rancid when it comes into contact with oxygen. Opened bottles should therefore always be tightly closed, stored in a cool, dry and dark place. After opening, the oil has a maximum shelf life of three months. Sealed bottles have a shelf life of approximately one year. As soon as a rancid smell occurs, the oil should no longer be used.
Evening primrose oil consists of 74 percent polyunsaturated linoleic acid and contains approximately 8.1 percent gamma-linoleic acid, eight percent monounsaturated oleic acids and approximately eight percent saturated fatty acids. In addition, minerals, amino acids and vitamin E are contained in evening primrose oil. The most important active ingredients in evening primrose oil are gamma-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which are among the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids.
Gamma-linolenic acid (also called GLA) is a tri-unsaturated fatty acid that is the raw material for important hormones in the body. It is an omega-6 fatty acid and is synthesized in the body from linoleic acid or absorbed through important vegetable oils.
Taking gamma-linolenic acid can have a beneficial effect on inflammatory processes in the body. In addition, gamma-linolenic acid is essential for the brain, especially for nerve conduction, and is said to have blood pressure-lowering properties.
Above all, the following vegetable oils contain a high proportion of GLA: Borage seed oil (approx. 20 percent), black currant seed oil (15 to 20 percent), evening primrose oil (approx. Ten percent) and hemp seed oil (approx. Three percent).
Linoleic acid is a di-unsaturated fatty acid. It is responsible for stabilizing the structures of the skin and cell membranes. The largest proportion of linoleic acid is found in the epidermis, the outer skin layer of humans. Other tasks include participating in the regulation of cholesterol levels in the body and supporting the elimination of fat-soluble toxins (toxins) from the body.
How evening primrose oil works
Evening primrose oil can be used both internally and externally. The essential fatty acids it contains are an important part of the cell membrane in the organism. They are involved in various growth and repair processes and support cholesterol regulation in the blood. A healthy cell metabolism is a basic requirement for a healthy body.
The oil can be applied undiluted externally. The essential fatty acids contained therein are building blocks for the formation of phospholipids, from which the membrane of the skin cells is made. This contributes to the healing and regeneration of the skin. The skin becomes supple and the moisture content is increased.
Evening primrose oil can be used both internally and externally, especially for inflammatory skin diseases such as neurodermatitis, psoriasis and acne. It supports itching, reddening and scaling of the skin, improves cell metabolism, regulates sebum production and ensures a healthy balance of the skin.
Mature skin in particular, for example during the menopause, responds very well to treatment with evening primrose oil. It gains elasticity and moisture.
Evening primrose oil is often used especially in naturopathy for neurodermatitis, psoriasis, dry skin and itching.
It is also recommended as a support for the treatment of polyarthritis (inflammatory disease of the joints), ankylosing spondylitis (chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease of the spine), for high cholesterol, pollen allergy and gestational diabetes.
Evening primrose oil must be taken in relatively high doses over a longer period of at least eight weeks in order to have an effect.
Evening primrose oil for menopausal symptoms
In a study, scientists investigated the effect of evening primrose oil on hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. They found that hot flushes can be alleviated by evening primrose oil.
Evening primrose oil for inflammatory bowel diseases
Another study compared the effects of different medicinal plants on inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. The scientific evaluation showed that the linolenic acid contained in evening primrose oil can reduce inflammation.
Very rare side effects when taken internally are indigestion such as abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Pregnant women, nursing mothers and people suffering from epilepsy should definitely consult the doctor before taking it. The internal use of children should also be checked with a doctor beforehand. People suffering from epilepsy should also consult their doctor in advance about topical use.
When applying evening primrose oil externally, it should be noted that this should not be applied immediately before intensive sun exposure. Evening primrose oil is a photoallergic substance and may make the skin sensitive to sunlight. However, hypersensitivity to sunlight in the sense of normal daylight is not to be expected. Extensive sunbathing immediately after use is not recommended.
Evening primrose oil for animals
Evening primrose oil is now also used in veterinary medicine. There it is also used internally and externally.
Supplementary feed or food supplements that contain evening primrose oil are specially made for dogs and horses. Evening primrose oil is said to have a beneficial effect on skin diseases, allergies, oily, flaky or dry skin and in the event of hair loss.
Parasite infestation in animals can be accompanied by inflammatory itchy skin irritation. The external use of evening primrose oil can alleviate these skin problems, but does not reduce or stop the parasite infestation.
As a precaution, you should consult the responsible veterinarian before using evening primrose oil in animals. (sw, sm, kh)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
- Williams, Hywel C .: Evening primrose oil for atopic dermatitis. BMJ (Clinical research ed.) Vol. 327,7428 (2003): 1358-9. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, PubMed
- Mehrpooya, Maryam & Rabiee, Soghra & Larki, Amir & Fallahian, Amir-Mohammad & Moradi, Abbas & Ataei, Sara & Taravati Javad, Masoumeh. (2018): A comparative study on the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primrose oil” on menopausal hot flashes. Journal of Education and Health Promotion. 7. 10.4103 / jehp.jehp_81_17. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, ResearchGate
- Vucic, Vesna & Tomic-Lucic, Aleksandra. (2017): Clinical Benefits of n-3 PUFA and ɤ-Linolenic Acid in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Nutrients. 9. 10.3390 / nu9040325. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, ResearchGate
- Vasiljevic, Dragan & Veselinovic, Mirjana & Jovanović, Maja & Jeremic, Nevena & Arsic, Aleksandra & Vucic, Vesna & Tomic-Lucic, Aleksandra & Zivanović, Sandra & Djuric, Dragan & Jakovljevic, Vladimir. (2016): Evaluation of the effects of different supplementation on oxidative status in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical rheumatology. 35.10.1007 / s10067-016-3168-2. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, ResearchGate
- Jaafarnejad, Farzaneh & Adibmoghaddam, Elham & Emami, SeyyedAhmad & Saki, Azadeh. (2017): Compare the effect of flaxseed, evening primrose oil and Vitamin E on duration of periodic breast pain. 6. 85. 10.4103 / jehp.jehp_83_16. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, ResearchGate
- Young Chung, Bo & Young Park, Sook & Je Jung, Min & Kim, Hye One & Park, Chun. (2018): Effect of Evening Primrose Oil on Korean Patients With Mild Atopic Dermatitis: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Study. Annals of Dermatology. 30. 409. 10.5021 / ad.2018.30.4.409. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, PubMed
- Deutsche ApothekerZeitung (online): fatty acid supplementation. Gamma-linolenic acid for a strong skin barrier. DAZ 2005, No. 34, p. 48, August 21, 2005. Retrieved on September 2, 2019, Deutsche ApothekerZeitung