Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose oil is an oil that is extracted from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant. It is not an essential oil. The oil contains a high level of GLA, Gamma Linoleic Acid, an Omega-6 essential fatty acid that has been shown in clinical trials to benefit the following:

  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Allergies
  • ADHD
  • Breast Cancer
  • Eczema
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Menopausal Symptoms
  • Premenstural Symptoms
  • Osteoporosis

It is important to note that the FDA does not consider GLA to be proven treatment for these conditions. But in other countries, such as Britain, GLA in the form of either Evening Primrose oil, Borage Oil, or Black Current Oil is prescribed for many of these conditions. 

It can take up to 3 months to start noticing any benefits from a daily dose of Evening Primrose. I began taking it nearly a year ago to help deal with dramatic and sometimes debilitating PMS symptoms including migraine, severe nausea and lower IBS symptoms, weakness and exhaustion. I have seen a big improvement. I've also seen a big improvement in the chronic swelling of my right knee and left wrist. However, I'm also taking calcium and turmeric. Calcium has been shown to alleviate PMS symptoms and Turmeric is touted as being great for reducing inflammation. In any case, I'm seeing benefits from the supplements I'm taking so I'm not going to stop. 

Dosage is tricky here. I have found that for me, 2000mg a day is beneficial. But less may work for you. I would caution using it with children unless you work with a naturopath or certified herbalist. 

There is some research on contraindications so please beware of the following:

(The information below comes from an article by the University of Maryland Medical Center and there is a list of supporting research included in their article).

Do not take omega-6 fatty acids if you have a seizure disorder. Several reports describe seizures in people taking evening primrose oil. Some of these seizures developed in people with a previous seizure disorder, or in people taking evening primrose oil in combination with anesthetics. People who plan to have surgery requiring anesthesia should stop taking evening primrose oil 2 weeks ahead of time.

Pregnant women should not take borage seed oil, and possibly other sources of GLA, because they may harm the fetus and induce early labor. Talk with your physician.

Avoid doses of GLA greater than 3,000 mg per day. High levels may increase inflammation in the body.

Side effects of evening primrose oil can include occasional headache, abdominal pain, nausea, and loose stools. In animal studies, GLA is reported to decrease blood pressure. Early results in human studies do not show consistent changes in blood pressure.

Laboratory studies suggest that omega-6 fatty acids, such as the fat found in corn oil, promote the growth of prostate tumor cells. Until more research is done, health care professionals recommend not taking omega-6 fatty acids, including GLA, if you are at risk for or have prostate cancer.

Possible Interactions

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use omega-6 supplements without first talking to your health care provider.

Blood thinning medications -- People taking blood thinning medications should not take omega-6 fatty acid supplements without consulting a health care provider. Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of bleeding. These medications include:

  • Warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • Aspirin

Ceftazidime -- Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may increase the effectiveness of ceftazidime. Ceftazidinme, an antibiotic in a class known as cephalosporins, is used to treat a variety of bacterial infections.

Chemotherapy for cancer -- GLA may increase the effects of anti cancer treatments, such as doxorubicin, cisplatin, carboplatin, idarubicin, mitoxantrone, tamoxifen, vincristine, and vinblastine.

Cyclosporine -- Cyclosporine is a medication used to suppress the immune system after organ transplant. Taking omega-6 fatty acids with cyclosporine may increase the immunosuppressive effects of this medication. It may also protect against kidney damage (a potential side effect from this medication).

Phenothiazines -- People taking a class of medications called phenothiazines to treat schizophrenia should not take evening primrose oil. Evening primrose oil may interact with these medications and increase the risk of seizures. The same may be true for other omega-6 supplements. These medications include:

  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Fluphenazine (Stelazine)
  • Perphenazine (Trilafon)
  • Promethazine (Compazine)
  • Thioridazine (Mellaril)

Source: Gamma-linolenic acid | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/gammalinolenic-acid#ixzz3FZrQSoii 

I'd love to hear from you. Do you take Evening Primrose or another GLA rich oil? Have you noticed any positive benefits from it? Please post on the Facebook page or here in the blog so we can all share information.