Evening primrose Oenothera biennis

Our attentions are constantly drawn towards the detrimental impacts of using chemical agents for producing drugs. As a result of this, herbal alternatives have been deemed the best option for tackling various health disorders without provoking any unnecessary side effects on human’s health. Nature provides us with countless medicinal plants and herbs that provide us with immeasurable health and non-health benefits only if we can tap into them. This post is an eye-opener on some key things you never knew about evening primrose.

Notwithstanding being used since time immemorial, yet not many people are aware of this amazing medicinal herb known as evening primrose. Also known as sundrops or suncups, the evening primrose belongs to the family of Onagraceae and the genus Oenothera. It is originally from Central America and Mexico before spreading to other parts of the world such as Europe, Asia, North America and South America.

Some species of evening primrose are: Saltillo evening primrose (Oenothera stubbei), Mexican evening primrose (Oenothera berlanderii), Oenothera biennis, Oenothera albicaulis, Oenothera arequipensis, Oenothera argillicola, Oenothera bahia-blancae and tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) however, Oenothera biennis is the most commonly used specie for producing evening primrose oil.

Benefits of Evening Primrose

1. Ornamental Purposes
Evening primrose is distinguished by its characteristics beautiful colour and appearance thus can be planted around the house for ornamental purposes. It can be planted to improve the aesthetic appearance of a place by changing and giving it a more colorful outlook.
2. Medicinal Purposes
Evening Primrose is edible thus can be used for manufacturing herbal oil (evening primrose oil) and other herbal drugs for combating and treating diseases. Among the 145 species of evening primroses, Oenothera biennis is the main species used for producing and refining the evening primrose oil.


Evening Primrose Flowers

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil is a natural oil derived from the seeds of evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) flower. This special type of oil is gaining more attention as a result of its outstanding benefits on human health. Studies reveal that it is composed of approximately 9% of total fatty acids of GLA (gamma linolenic acid).
Gamma linolenic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid that bears one more double bond than linoleic acid and found mainly in vegetable oils. GLA is highly essential in our diets for the metabolic conversion of linolenic acid into Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), which regulates our hormones, promotes the cell growth and aids in the regeneration of new cells.
The gamma linolenic acid found in the evening primrose oil has been scientifically proven very effective for producing more desirable PGE1 than other vegetable oils that contain GLA such as linseed oil and borage oil etc.

benefits of evening primrose oil

How to Produce Evening Primrose Oil

Step 1: The seeds of the evening primrose flower are collected from the plantation.
Step 2: The seeds are sorted, washed then cold pressed and refined for their oil.
Step 3: The evening primrose oil is then converted and encapsulated into dietary supplement capsules.

You can still use the evening primrose seed oil or the evening primrose oil tincture but most people prefer the encapsulated ones. Cold-pressed evening primrose oil is rich in beneficial polyphenols.

Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

1Boosts Fertility
Evening primrose oil can be used for treating male impotence. This is because the GLA in evening primrose oil helps to facilitate blood flow to the penis. To boost male fertility, evening primrose oil can be taken together with ginkgo biloba and vitamin C.

For female infertility, GLA can be taken to promote the uterine function, to increase the production of cervical mucus and to facilitate the metabolic functioning of the body system.
To increase cervical mucus, at least 500 milligrams of evening primrose oil should be taken three times daily. Moreover, due to its hormone-balancing effects, evening primrose oil can be taken with 
vitex agnus-castus especially by women suffering from anovulation and hormonal imbalance to boost fertility. Ideally, evening primrose oil should be taken from the first day of the menstrual flow until ovulation.

2. Aids Easy Hysteroscopy
According to Vahdat (2015), evening primrose oil is very effective for ripening the cervix before hysteroscopy (a medical procedure that enables the doctor to look inside a woman’s uterus so as to diagnose and treat causes of abnormal bleeding).
3. Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers reveal that taking the evening primrose oil supplements is vital for reducing rheumatoid arthritis, joint pain, inflammation of the bones and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-lasting progressive autoimmune disease that causes the inflammation of the joints thereby leading to painful deformity and immobility especially in the ankles, fingers, hands, feet, knees and wrists.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be hereditary or caused by hormonal imbalance and environmental factors. Primrose oil has been proven effective for tackling rheumatoid arthritis however, you have to be patient while taking this supplement as it can take a couple of months (2 to 3 months) to start working.
4. Hormonal Balance
Hormones play an integral part in our bodies and they are the regulatory substances produced in the body and transported through the tissue fluids such as blood for stimulating specific tissues or cells to act in certain ways. However, many factors can cause our hormones not to function or act as expected thereby leading to ailments.
Evening primrose oil helps to balance hormones due to the presence of GLA in it. It also helps to alleviate premenstrual syndrome (PMS), reduces breast pain (breast tenderness, mastalgia, mastodynia and mammalgia), cures acne, prevents water retention, prevents hair loss, prevents bloating and subsides the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Researchers reveal that the presence of omega-6 fatty acids in evening primrose oil makes it very effective for balancing the hormone levels.
5. Dermatological Care
Cosmetologists often use evening primrose for producing several types of cosmetics ranging from body creams, soaps, shampoo etc that are essential for maintaining a healthy skin. A study by Muggli in 2005 reveals that evening primrose helps to improve the smoothness of the skin, restores a defective epidermal skin barrier, improves the elasticity and firmness of the skin, prevents hair loss and prevents too much transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The skin-maintenance properties of the evening primrose oil is attributed to its rich gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) constituent.
It is important to note that our skins require an appropriate amount of GLA however, our skins cannot synthesize this fatty acid. As a result, our skins depend on an external supply of GLA for optimum shape and function. Evening Primrose Oil is anti-ageing and helps in combating dermatological disorders such as skin irritations, redness of the skin, eczema, dermatitis, acne, edema, psoriasis, itching, skin roughness and pimples.
Eczema is a skin condition that causes the affected skin parts to become itchy, reddish, rough and inflamed. It is caused as a failure of the body to convert dietary fats into GLA. Eczema is also known as atopic dermatitis.
Psoriasis is a skin disorder that causes the cells to build up quickly on the surface of the skin. This is marked by thick, itchy, scaly patches that can be painful sometimes. Psoriasis is a chronic disease and usually occurs if the skin cells regenerate too quickly thereby leading to swollen patches underneath the skin with white scales on top. Psoriasis is mostly caused by hormonal changes, inability to digest protein and unbalanced diet.
Studies reveal that evening primrose oil naturally helps to cure these skin diseases due to its constituent of fatty acids that are essential for easy food digestion and for balancing the hormones.
6. Treatment of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a medical condition caused as a result of the bones becoming fragile and delicate due to loss of tissue as a result of calcium/vitamin D deficiency or hormonal changes.
Evening primrose oil is important for regulating the hormonal aspect of osteoporosis. Adults and elderly people are highly encouraged to take evening primrose oil with calcium and fish oil to maintain strong and healthy bones.
7. Facilitates Normal Labor
Expectant mothers can start taking EPO during the last trimester to prepare and ripen the cervix before labor. However, this should be discussed with your doctor or midwife.
The EPO capsules can be taken orally or the natural oil can be used to lubricate the cervix. The fatty acids in EPO helps the uterine muscles to contract and relax in preparation for baby delivery.

Side Effects of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil is a herb thus very safe to take however, ensure to take the recommended dosages as prescribed.
Some rare side effects have been recorded if someone takes an overdose and they include; stomach pain, inflammation, nausea, blood clots, headaches, high blood pressure, indigestion and diarrhea.
Pregnant women should avoid taking EPO until the last trimester as it can cause the uterus to contract thereby leading to miscarriage. Taking evening primrose oil while pregnant can also affect the growing embryo.
Women trying to get pregnant can take evening primrose oil from the onset of menstrual flow until ovulation. To be on the safe side, do not take EPO after ovulation.
Individuals on blood pressure and blood thinning medications should consult their doctors before taking evening primrose oil.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.

1] Barre D.E. (2001): Potential of evening primrose, borage, black currant and fungal oils in human health: a review, Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, 45, 47–55.
2] Cheung, K. L. (1999), Management of Cyclical Mastalgia in Oriental Women: Pioneer Experience of using Gamolenic Acid (Efamast®) in Asia. Aust NZ Journal Surg;69: pp. 492-493.
3] Dines K. C., Cameron N. E. and Cotter M. A. (1995), Comparison of the effects of evening primrose oil and triglycerides containing gamma-linolenic acid on nerve conduction and blood flow in diabetic rats. J Pharmacol Exp Ther;273(1): pp. 49-53.
4] Ford I., Cotter M. A., Cameron N. E. and Greaves M. (2001), The Effects of Treatment With α-Lipoic Acid or Evening Primrose Oil on Vascular Hemostatic and Lipid Risk Factors, Blood Flow, and Peripheral Nerve Conduction in the Streptozotocin Diabetic Rat Metabolism; 50(8): pp. 868-871.
5] Frances S. Kenny, Sarah .E. Pinder, Ian O. Ellis., Julia. M.W., Gee, Robert. I. Nicholson, Richard P. Bryceand John F.R. Robertson.(2000.)Gamma linolenic acid with tamoxifen as primary therapy in breast cancer. International Journal of Cancer.Volume 85, Issue 5, pp. 643–646.
6] Gehring, W., Bopp, R., Rippke, F. and Gloor, M. (1999), Effect of topically applied evening primrose oil on epidermal barrier function in atopic dermatitis as a function of vehicle. Arzneimittelforschung. 49, pp. 635–640.
7] Hans (2012), Primrose, Oenothera Biennis, Accessed online [], Accessed date [18/02/2016].
8] Montserrat-de la Paz S., Fernandez-Arche A., Angel-Martin M. and Garcia-Gimenez M. D. (2012), The sterols isolated from Evening Primrose oil modulate the release of proinflammatory mediators, Phytomedicine, International journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology, 19: pp. 1072-1074.
9] Muggli, R. (2005), Systemic evening primrose oil improves the biophysical skin parameters of healthy adults, International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 27, pp. 243-244.
10] Noha M Abo-Gresha, Eman Z Abel-Aziz, Sahar M Greish (2014), Evening primrose oil ameliorates platelet aggregation and improves cardiac recovery in myocardial-infarct hypercholesterolemic rats. Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol;6(1): pp. 23-30.
11] Puri B. K. (2004), The clinical advantages of cold-pressed nonraffinated evening primrose oil over refined preparations. Medical hypotheses, 62: pp. 116-117.
12] Reklewska B., Ryniewicz Z., Goralczyk M., Kuczynska B., Karaszewska A. and Zdziarski K. (2002), The effect of a diet containing evening primrose (Oenothera paradoxa) vs. whole linseed on the content of functional lipid fractions of goat milk. Animal Science Papers and Reports/Institute of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Jastrzebiec, Poland, 20, pp. 229–240.
13] Takazart (2014), Evening Primrose flower, Accessed Online [], Accessed date [18/02/2016].
14] Vahdat, M., Tahermanesh, K., Kashi, A. M., Ashouri, M., Dodaran, M. S., Kashanian, M., Alizadeh, P., Abed, S. M., Yazdi, A. F. A., Hashemi, N., Esfahani, S. A. and Nasirii, B. F. (2015), Evening Primrose Oil Effect on the Ease of Cervical Ripening and Dilatation Before Operative Hysteroscopy, Thrita, 4(3): p. 1.
15] Wettasinghe M, Shahidi F. and Amarowicz R. (2002), Identification and quantification of low molecular weight phenolic antioxidants in seeds of evening primrose (Oenothera biennis L). Journal of Agric Food Chem;50(5): pp. 1267-1270.

Print Friendly


  • Sonia


    Many thanks for your helpful information on evening primrose.
    Very informative and interesting piece of writing!

    • The pleasure is mine!

      I am glad you appreciate the article.