Evening primrose oil


Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a fatty acid supplement that provides necessary omega-6 essential fatty acids. The oil procured from the evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) plant is usually taken orally in a gel capsule form. It is used to treat a variety of chronic inflammatory disorders and women’s health problems.

Source of EPO

Evening primrose is a yellow flowering plant native to North and South America. EPO is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. It is available in capsule form.

How it works?

EPO contains two types of omega-6 fatty acids including high levels of linolenic acid (60%-80%) and 8-14% of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). These acids help in the reduction of inflammation. GLA converts to prostaglandin E1 in the body that helps to prevent prolactin from producing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). EPO can be taken orally or can be administered topically.

Common side effects

Evening primrose oil is generally well tolerated if it is consumed for short duration. However, consuming EPO for an extended duration of time is not recommended, as it can cause some common side effects such as:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Fullness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Diarrhoea
EPO benefits in women’s health

EPO has been a special place for women in the management of women’s health.

  • EPO is effective in providing relief from PMS and menopause symptoms.
  • EPO may change the balance of fatty acids in body cells, which may reduce breast pain or mastalgia and helps to reduce fibroadenomas.
  • EPO helps to maintain hormonal balance, promotes healthy skin and improves overall skin health.
  • EPO has anti-inflammatory properties and has been known to soothe skin conditions such as eczema, nerve pain and psoriasis.
  • EPO dietary supplements are recommended for atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  1. Mahboubi M. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Oil in Management of Female Ailments. J Menopausal Med. 2019;25(2):74–82.
  2. National center for complementary and integrative health. Evening Primrose oil. Available at: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/evening-primrose-oil. Accessed on 31 March 2022.
  3. Mayo Clinic. Evening Primrose. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-evening-primrose/art-20364500. Accessed on 31 March 2022.
  4. Diane Stonemetz. Holist Nurs Pract. 2008;22(3):171–4.
  5. Mayo clinic. Brest pain. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-pain/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350426. Accessed on 6 April 2022.

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