July 26, 2016

Evening Primrose Oil

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What other names is Evening Primrose Oil known by?

Aceite de Onagra, Acide Cis-linoléique, Cis-Linoleic Acid, EPO, Evening Primrose, Evening Primrose Seed Oil, Fever Plant, Herbe-aux-ânes, Huile de Graines d'Onagre, Huile D'Onagre, Huile de Primerose, Huile de Primevère Vespérale, Jambon de Jardinier, Jambon du Paysan, King's Cureall, Mâche Rouge, Night Willow-Herb, Oenothera biennis, Oenothera muricata, Oenothera purpurata, Oenothera rubricaulis, Oenothera suaveolens, Œnothère, Oil of Evening Primrose, Onagra biennis, Onagraire, Onagre Bisannuelle, Onagre Commune, Primevère du Soir, Primrose, Primrose Oil, Scabish, Sun Drop.

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose oil is the oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant. Evening primrose oil is used for skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis, weak bones (osteoporosis), Raynaud's syndrome, multiple sclerosis (MS), Sjogren's syndrome, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, a movement disorder in children called dyspraxia, leg pain due to blocked blood vessels (intermittent claudication), alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, and schizophrenia.

Some people use evening primrose oil for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS); asthma; nerve damage related to diabetes; an itching disorder called neurodermatitis; hyperactivity in children and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); obesity and weight loss; whooping cough; and gastrointestinal disorders including ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and peptic ulcer disease.

Women use evening primrose oil in pregnancy for preventing high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), shortening labor, starting labor, and preventing late deliveries. Women also use evening primrose oil for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), breast pain, endometriosis, and symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes.

In foods, evening primrose oil is used as a dietary source of essential fatty acids.

In manufacturing, evening primrose oil is used in soaps and cosmetics.

In Britain, evening primrose oil used to be approved for treating eczema and breast pain. However, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA), the British equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), withdrew the licenses for evening primrose oil products marketed as prescription drug products for these uses. The licenses were withdrawn because the agency concluded that there is not enough evidence that they are effective. The manufacturer disagrees, but it hasn't published studies yet to prove the effectiveness of evening primrose for these uses.

Is Evening Primrose Oil effective?

There is some scientific evidence that evening primrose oil can relieve breast pain. It might also help improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis after 6 months of treatment.

Evening primrose oil does not seem to help the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but it might be able to prevent PMS-related flare-ups of the symptoms of a condition called irritable bowel syndrome.

Evening primrose oil does not prevent high blood pressure due to pregnancy. It does not shorten labor, and it does not prevent babies being born after their due date.

Evening primrose oil does not relieve hot flashes due to menopause.

There isn't enough information to know if evening primrose oil is effective for the other conditions people use it for, including: acne, multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, Alzheimer's disease, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and many others.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Nerve damage caused by diabetes. Research shows that taking evening primrose oil daily for 6-12 months improves symptoms of nerve damage caused by diabetes.
  • Osteoporosis. Taking evening primrose oil with fish oil and calcium seems to decrease bone loss and increase bone density in elderly people with osteoporosis.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Asthma. Some research shows that taking 500 mg of a specific evening primrose oil product (Epogam, Efamol) daily for up to 16 weeks does not improve asthma symptoms.
  • Itchy and inflamed skin condition (eczema). Some research shows that taking 0.5 grams or more of evening primrose oil for 16 to 24 weeks does not reduce itchy and inflamed skin symptoms in adults or children. Most research used a specific evening primrose oil product (Epogam, Scotia Pharmaceuticals). Some previous research showed beneficial effects.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Taking evening primrose oil by mouth does not improve ADHD symptoms in children. However, taking a specific supplement containing fish oil and evening primrose oil ( Eye q, Novasel) daily does seem to improve symptoms in children 7-12 years-old. The fish oil might be the beneficial part of the supplement.
  • Hepatitis B. Research shows that taking 2 grams of a specific evening primrose oil product (Efamol) daily for 12 months does not improve hepatitis B symptoms.
  • High cholesterol. Research shows that taking evening primrose oil daily for up to four months does not affect cholesterol levels.
  • Liver cancer. Early research shows that taking evening primrose oil (Efamol) daily does not affect liver size or survival in people with liver cancer.
  • Breast pain (mastalgia). Evidence on the effects of evening primrose oil on breast pain is unclear. Some research shows that taking evening primrose oil by mouth alone and with a drug called bromocriptine can reduce breast pain. However, other research shows that taking evening primrose oil for 3-6 months does not reduce breast pain.
  • Hot flashes and night sweats due to menopause. Research shows that taking evening primrose oil by mouth daily for 3-6 months alone or with other supplements does not reduce hot flashes or night sweats caused by menopause. However, one study found that a specific product containing evening primrose oil, damiana, ginseng, and royal jelly (Lady 4) did reduce menopausal symptoms. However, overall, most evidence suggests that evening primrose oil does not reduce menopausal symptoms.
  • Obesity. Taking evening primrose oil capsules four times daily for 12 weeks did result in weight loss in obese women.
  • Low bone mineral density (osteopenia). Research shows that taking a specific product containing evening primrose oil, calcium and fish oil (Efacal) does not affect bone mineral density compared to just calcium alone in women.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Most research shows that taking evening primrose oil by mouth does not relieve PMS symptoms. Most studies have used a specific product (Epogam, Scotia Pharmaceuticals).
  • Red and scaly skin (psoriasis). Research shows that taking a specific product containing evening primrose oil and fish oil (Efamol Marine) does not improve red, scaly skin.
  • Joint pain associated with psoriasis (psoriatic arthritis). Research shows that taking a specific product containing evening primrose oil and fish oil (Efamol Marine) daily for 12 months does not reduce symptoms of joint pain associated with psoriasis.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). There is some early evidence that a specific combination of evening primrose oil and fish oils (Efamarine) might reduce the symptoms of CFS. However, study results have not been consistent.
  • Diaper rash. Early research shows that applying evening primrose oil to infants with diaper rash was similar to applying skin protection cream after 8 weeks.
  • Dry eyes. Research shows that taking a specific evening primrose oil product (Qarma) daily for six months improved dry eye symptoms in women wearing contacts.
  • Dyslexia. Early research shows that a specific evening primrose oil product (Efalex) improved mental performance in children with dyslexia.
  • Coordination and movement problems (dyspraxia). Early research shows that taking a specific product containing evening primrose oil, thyme oil and vitamin E (Efalex) improves movement disorders in children with coordination and movement problems.
  • Scaly, flaky skin (ichthyosis). Early research shows that evening primrose oil does not improve scaly and flaky skin.
  • Infant development. Research shows that infants fed a formula containing evening primrose oil and fish oil might have better development compared to those fed regular formula. However, infants who were breastfed showed better results than those fed evening primrose oil formula.
  • Complications of pregnancy. Taking evening primrose oil does not seem to shorten labor, prevent high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), or prevent late deliveries in pregnant women. However, taking evening primrose oil might reduce the need to induce labor.
  • Reduced blood flow in response to temperature or stress (Raynaud's phenomenon). Early research suggests that taking a specific evening primrose oil product (Efamol) daily for eight weeks reduces symptoms of Raynaud's phenomenon, but does not affect hand temperature or blood flow.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Some early research suggests that taking evening primrose oil might reduce pain in RA. But some other studies show no benefit.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research shows that taking evening primrose oil (Efamol) does not have mental or physical effects on people with schizophrenia. However, one study found that it might have some psychological and memory benefits.
  • Sjogren's syndrome (an autoimmune disorder in which certain body cells attack and destroy the glands that produce tears and saliva). There is some early evidence that taking evening primrose oil does not improve symptoms.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis). Early research shows that taking evening primrose oil with borage and olive oil can improve some but not all symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Cancer.
  • Acne.
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS).
  • Heart disease.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate evening primrose oil for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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