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What's the Deal With Evening Primrose Oil?

What's the Deal With Evening Primrose Oil?

Who would guess that a pretty wildflower contains oils, let alone essential fatty acids? Native to North American, the oil of evening primrose contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid necessary for growth and development that can be hard to come by in a regular diet.

Evening primrose oil has been used since the 1930s to treat eczema, an itchy skin condition. More recently, it has been used to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis, as well as hormonal issues we ladies have to deal with, like PMS, breast pain, and menopausal issues.

According to the National Institute of Health's Center for Complementary Medicine, the oil from this little flower provides "moderate benefits" for eczema, but the rest of the health claims are a bit sketchy. The studies on arthritis and PMS showed some benefits, but unfortunately the studies were small and poorly designed. Prominent alternative medicine doctor Andrew Weil feels that evening primrose oil works effectively to decrease inflammation, and says it takes about six to eight weeks to feel the effects after adding the oil to your diet in supplement form.


Join The Conversation
Allytta Allytta 8 years
hahaha, i was eyeing it today in the grocery store :) i stick to cod liver oil though
ellenp1214 ellenp1214 8 years
i have fairly severe eczema and have had it my whole life. it's hard to do, but avoid steroids as much as possible. there are SO many side effects. the skin around my eyes has become super thin thanks to long term use. it's surprising what even good dermatologists will suggest! some things that i have found really helpful: make sure to drink A LOT of water-- your skin doesn't hold water in your body the way it's supposed to so you've got to make up for it. get your omega3s-- especially from fish, as they're more usable by the body. healthy fats are a MUST for people with dry skin. organic virgin coconut oil-- slather it on your skin, and eat it too! it's really amazing stuff. skin-e dip-- this is a cream that i bought online, and it works really well to heal the skin. it's natural and soothing. watch your makeup, perfume and hair products-- even if these things aren't coming in contact with your rashes, they are absorbed into your body and can be causing problems that show up elsewhere. get tested for food allergies-- this is one that i just did recently, but i wish i had done so much earlier. eczema is often caused by food allergies, and your doctor isn't likely to suggest for you to get tested because modern western medicine is all about relieving the symptoms and not finding the root of the issue. i'm still waiting on my results! i really believe that eczema isn't something that you have to suffer through, but it takes a lot of work to deal with because the docs are will pretty much tell you "we don't know what causes it. we don't know how to cure it. we can only give you some creams and hope it helps." everyone's eczema is triggered by different things (and often several different things!)
michlny michlny 8 years
For skin problems - omega 3 (and 9) is fantastic!! Make sure it's a high quality and take it in oil form. Carlson and Nordic Naturals are 2 great brands!
mamasitamalita mamasitamalita 8 years
my boyfriend suffers from very mild eczema, I wonder if this will have any effect for him. the flower itself is very pretty, regardless :)
acf222 acf222 8 years
I've been suffering from eczema my entire life and it got especially worse in the past year. I have tried everything, including prescription steroid creams and every fragrance-free, dye-free, paraben-free product, and nothing has worked. I started taking evening primrose oil a few weeks ago and I have already started to see improvement in my skin.
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