Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is obtained from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant (Oenothera biennis) which is cultivated in North America, Europe, and some regions of Asia. Historically, Native Americans used the plant both as a food and as a treatment for indigestion, hemorrhoids, sore throats, tonsillitis, and bruises.
Scientists have isolated an essential fatty acid called Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) in Evening Primrose Oil, which is regarded as the active ingredient responsible for its renowned anti-inflammatory and pro-digestive properties.
As the body is unable to produce its own supply of fatty acids, this compound must be obtained either through food or supplementation. Once ingested, GLA is converted to prostaglandin, or more precisely prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). This hormone-like compound is the active ingredient responsible for lowered inflammation, together with thinning of the blood and dilation of blood vessels- the latter improving microcirculation to all areas of the body.
The principal use of Evening Primrose Oil is in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis where supplementation results in a decrease in both swelling and pain in affected joints. Intake of Evening Primrose Oil is also associated with the relief of estrogen-linked hormonal disorders such as PMS, menstrual cramping, and endometriosis. It is the anti-inflammatory properties of the EPO-derived PGE1 which makes this remarkable herb so popular with women the world over.
Evening Primrose Oil is also useful for assisting peripheral circulation in diabetic patients. With its ability to dilate fine capillaries and increase blood flow, common diabetes-related problems resulting from poor circulation such as numbness, tingling and loss of sensation can all be improved via EPO supplementation .
Studies have also shown that skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and rosacea display marked improvement due to the calming, anti-inflammatory effects of Evening Primrose Oil. Similarly, these same anti-inflammatory characteristics make EPO helpful in the management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn's disease.
Further research is currently being undertaken to determine the efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil on a variety of conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, Raynaud's disease (a circulatory disease of the hands), and Alzheimer's disease. In fact, any condition characterized by inflammation, pain and swelling, or reduced blood flow may positively respond to the benefits of this commonly-occurring plant. Ongoing studies will assist in realizing the full potential of Evening Primrose Oil in alleviating many of today's common ailments.
For best results, Evening Primrose Oil should be taken with zinc, magnesium, vitamin C, and a vitamin B complex supplement. Minor intestinal discomfort may be experienced by some users. Schizophrenia sufferers taking phenothiazine medication, such as Largactil, should not take Evening Primrose Oil.