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Evening Primrose Oil


Primrose oil is extracted or pressed from the seeds of the evening primrose, a pretty yellow flower that is native to North and Central America.  Primrose oil is rich in gamma linolenic acid, a substance that is a precursor to prostaglandins in the body, linoleic acid and vitamin E, both of which are antioxidants.


Primrose oil has been widely used in traditional Native American remedies to relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and the pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis.  There is some evidence that primrose oil may help reduce the risk factors associated with coronary thrombosis, and help slow or prevent the growth of some cancers.


What Primrose Oil Does:

One of the main chemical components of primrose oil is gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an omega 6 essential fatty acid.  The body converts the GLA to dihomo-gamma-linolenic-acid (DGLA), which is a precursor to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are essential for many of the body’s biological functions, particularly in the inflammatory process and the immune system.  Depending on a number of different factors, GLA can act as a pro-inflammatory, and trigger the immune system, or an anti-inflammatory.


Because prostaglandins are also responsible in part for regulating pain in the body, primrose oil also seems to relieve premenstrual cramps and discomfort in the breasts.


Health Benefits of Primrose Oil:

May reduce the incidence of thrombosis

In a recent animal study, researchers fed rabbits a diet high in saturated fats to two different groups of rabbits.  One group received no supplement.  The other received a diet supplemented with 15% primrose oil.  The group that received primrose oil showed lower levels of ‘platelet hyperaggregation’, a measure of how likely the blood cells are to clump and form clots in the veins.  The results suggest that primrose oil may be helpful in reducing the incidence of coronary thrombosis.


Improves the symptoms of eczema

In a number of different studies, patients suffering from eczema have shown significant improvement when treated with primrose oil capsules.  There are some conflicting studies, but the overall picture is positive.


May improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment with primrose oil significantly reduced the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis in several different studies.  Control groups that received a placebo showed no improvement in joint pain, number of tender joints, swollen joint count and swollen joint score in those studies.




Possible Side Effects of Primrose Oil:

There no reported side effects of primrose oil when used at recommended doses.  It is, however, recommended that those who take medication to treat epilepsy and/or schizophrenia do not take evening primrose oil, as it has been implicated in higher rates of seizures when combined with phenothiazine epileptogenic drugs.



Primrose oil provides some important nutrients that help strengthen the immune system, and prevent coronary problems.  There is some evidence that primrose oil can also help relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic neuropathy by improving blood flow.  Because primrose oil contains omega 6 fatty acids, it’s important to balance the intake with increases of omega 3 fatty acids.  The best way to do this is to take a full spectrum nutritional supplement that is synergistically balanced to provide the nutrients that your body needs in the proportions that are most beneficial.




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