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Herb Information
Name: Evening Primrose
Biological Name: Oenothffa bionnis
Other Names: Evening Primrose, common evening primrose, fever plant, field primrose, king's cureall, night willow-herb, scabish, scurvish, tree primrose, primrose
Parts Used: The plant
Active Compounds:  

Evening primrose oil (EPO), black currant seed oil, and borage oil contain gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that the body converts to a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). PGE1 has anti-inflammatory properties and may also act as a blood thinner and blood vessel dilator.

Linoleic acid, a common fatty acid found in nuts, seeds, and most vegetable oils (including EPO), should theoretically convert to PGE1. But many things can interfere with this conversion, including disease, the aging process, saturated fat, hydrogenated oils, blood sugar problems, and inadequate vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and B vitamins. Supplements that provide GLA circumvent these conversion problems, leading to more predictable formation of PGE1. Those with premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, and eczema can have a metabolic block that interferes with the bodyís ability to make GLA. Many people in Western societies may be at least partially GLA deficient as a result of aging, glucose intolerance, dietary fat intake, and other problems. Individuals with deficiencies benefit from supplemental GLA intake from evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, or borage oil.

Remedies For:

Astringent, mucilaginous.

Traditionally evening primrose had been used as a soothing remedy for coughs associated with colds. It has also been used for mental depression, its effectiveness perhaps due to a stimulating effect on the liver, spleen, and digestive apparatus. It can also be made into an ointment useful for rashes and other skin irritations. The entire plant is edible.

Evening Primrose Oil is useful for the treatment of:

Attention Deficit Disorder
Fibrocystic Breast Disease
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Raynaudís Disease
Rheumatoid Arthritis
High Blood Pressure

Schizophrenia and PMS:
Studies have shown that about seven 500 mg. capsules of evening primrose oil daily in conjunction with vitamins B-3, B-6, C and zinc achieve remarkable results in the treatment of schizophrenia or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS symptom severities, especially depression, were relieved a lot more with the oil than with the placebo. Up to six capsules per day appear to give significant therapeutic benefits.

Blood Pressure:
In two separate Canadian studies using animals, the main constituent in evening primrose, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and the plant oil (EVO) itself, significantly reduced blood pressure. In the first study, the GLA greatly strengthened the heart's response to chronic stress, while in the second a general lowering of blood pressure was observed. Recommendation was to take about 4 capsules of primrose oil per day for hypertension, along with increased potassium intake (750 mg.).

Relief for Chronic Disorders:
South African scientists proposed that coronary artery disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, allergic eczema and other atopic conditions, cancer, premature aging, and chronic inflammatory and auto- immune disorders are related to an imbalance of fatty acids in the body. Deficiencies of GLA and another important fatty acid found in fish oils may result in the metabolic blockage of a key enzyme. They suggested that an oil of evening primrose supplement is one good means of getting around this blockage and possibly preventing and treating many chronic disorders as well. Recommended intake is 2 capsules twice daily, in the morning and again in the mid-afternoon for optimal health.


Evening primrose is a coarse, annual or biennial plant found in dry meadows and waste places and along roadsides east of the Rockies to the Atlantic. The stem is erect, stout, and soft-hairy, with alternate, rough-hairy, lanceolate, taper-pointed leaves about 3 to 6 inches long. The yellow, lemon-scented flowers, 1 to 2-1/2 inches across, open at dusk and grow in spikes from June to October. The fruit is an oblong, hairy capsule.


Infusion: Use 1 tsp. of the plant with I cup of water. Take 1 cup a day, a mouthful at a time.

Tincture: Take 5 to 40 drops, as needed.

Researchers often use 3,000-6,000 mg of evening primrose oil per day, which provides approximately 270-360 mg of GLA.

See specific recommendations above.


Consistent, reproducible problems from taking evening primrose oil have not been reported.

Other nutrients are needed by the body, along with evening primrose oil, to make PGE1. Consequently, some experts suggest that magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin B6 should be taken along with evening primrose oil.

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