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Available on Amazon
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Evening primrose oil

Category: Medicines - plant based



Introduction and description


Evening primrose [Oenothera biennis]  is a biennial flowering plant, growing to 1.2 m (4ft),  whose other names include Onagra biennis, Brunyera biennis, Oenothera muricata and Onagra muricata

It is a biennial, which grows wild in many parts of the UK and can be found on dunes, by the road, on railway embankments and on waste land.  It can also be found in Eastern N. America - Labrador, south to Florida and Texas.

It is hardy, not frost tender and flowers from June to September; the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Lepidoptera butterflies and bees.  “It is noted for attracting wildlife”.


The roots of the plant and flowers are edible, however, evening primrose is best known for its oil, which is extracted from the seeds.  The seed contains about 28% oil. 

I have provided a complete list of its constituents below, but it is known to be a very good source of essential fatty acids ALA, linoleic acid and  gamma-linolenic acid,  as well as beta linoleic acid. The seed, however, is very small and difficult to harvest, it has to be done by hand.  Overall yields are low, making the oil very expensive to produce.

Medicinal uses

Capsules are used to help prevent the degradation of
the essential fatty acids when exposed to air

Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid.  Linoleic acid is not used by the body in its original form, but converted by the body into the required long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and in turn to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) and arachidonic acid (AA), thus the fact that the seeds contain both LA and GLA means it provides a useful usable source of omega 6 fatty acids.

Deficiency of LA and thus by extension GLA,  affects the correct functioning of every muscle in our body, from the intestines to the heart, as well as opening us up to infection by parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and so on as our immune system is compromised.  It also means that if we have surgery or are in an accident, our wounds won't heal properly. 

Thus if your immune system is malfunctioning, or you are suffering from any complaint caused by parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and so on – and from what one can see on the website practically all illnesses have their root causes somewhere in this category, unless the cause is radiation, then GLA may help.  Even in the case of radiation, it may help, but unless you remove yourself from the source of the radiation, you won't get better.

The observations below show healing properties which are backed by scientific research, however, the oil has been used for some time both in Europe and America in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, where it is taken internally for eczema, acne, brittle nails and rheumatoid arthritis and alcohol-related liver damage.  So called autoimmune diseases are not caused by a faulty immune system, but the body attempting to fight toxic invaders, as such GLA is a means of helping the immune system in its struggle.

Several studies have shown the benefits of taking Evening Primrose oil supplements to treat atopic dermatitis, or eczema. Evening Primrose oil alleviates itching and lessens the inflammation of acne as well as rosacea. The redness and swelling associated with both these conditions are dramatically improved and some studies have shown that with long-term use of Evening Primrose oil, new outbreaks of these skin conditions can be prevented.

Notice how many 'mays' there are in this advertisement, this accurately
reflects the level of scientific knowledge accumulated so far

The gamma-linolenic acid in the seeds is also ‘claimed to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower the blood pressure’, when taken regularly. 

Cholesterol is a symptom not a cause, it is a symptom of parasites, bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins and unhelpful pharmaceuticals having attacked your body. 

The high cholesterol simply shows you are in urgent need of repair, as cholesterol is a cell repair substance.  Thus GLA may indeed help, by providing the immune system with the essential fuel it needs to repel the invaders and repair you.

Evening primrose oil is not the only source of GLA, as can be seen from the entry on Linoleic acid, furthermore, there are a number of useful sources of linoleic acid.  But the little capsules of evening primrose oil are convenient and the oil itself is a useful source for a number of essential minerals, including zinc, which is also key to a fully functioning immune system.  I have shown in bold the minerals in the chart below.


There are all sorts of claims made for the plant as opposed to the seeds.  The leaves have been used for gastro-intestinal disorders of a functional origin, whooping cough and asthma. A syrup made from the flowers has been used for whooping cough. The roots have been used in the treatment of obesity and bowel pains.  Again, this may all be a bit meaningless, because we need to know the cause of all these, before we can say the plant is of help, however, it is interesting to know that the plant clearly helped in some cases.

Chemical constituents

The following tables were obtained from Dr Duke's database of chemical plant constituents.  The table shows what is in the seed.  It is most important to understand that not all these may be present in the oil, as it depends on the method of processing, however, this is a good starting point to understand a little of the contents of the oil.

I have used colour coding to identify each group of constituents.  A good summary and cross reference to all these and the effects of deficiency/imbalance can be found in the entry for Nutritional deprivation:

  • Essential fatty acids - are shown in green, all the essential fatty acids are present
  • Carbohydrates - are shown in pink
  • Essential amino acids - are shown in blue, it is worth pointing out that every single essential amino acid is present in evening primrose seed
  • Conditionally essential amino acids - these are considered essential if you are ill or weak or having to fight disease, again it is worth pointing out that every single conditionally essential amino acid is present in evening primrose seed

Chemicals in: Oenothera biennis L. (Onagraceae) -- Evening-Primrose


ALANINE 5,500 - 5,870 ppm
ALPHA-AMYRIN 125 - 266 ppm
ALPHA-LINOLEIC-ACID [ALA] 39,000 - 58,000 ppm
AMMONIA 2,300 - 2,455 ppm
ARGININE 14,100 - 15,048 ppm
ASH 47,800 - 78,000 ppm
ASPARTIC-ACID 11,800 - 12,593 ppm
BETA-AMYRIN 47 - 100 ppm
BETA-LINOLEIC-ACID 42,000 - 66,000 ppm
BETA-SITOSTEROL 1,186 - 2,528 ppm
BORON 38 - 41 ppm
CALCIUM 12,700 - 18,000 ppm
CAMPESTEROL 103 - 220 ppm
CELLULOSE 270,000 ppm;
COPPER 11 - 13 ppm
CYCLOARTENOL 62 - 133 ppm
CYSTINE 3,400 - 3,629 ppm
FAT 150,000 - 320,000 ppm
FIBER 429,000 ppm;
GAMMA-LINOLENIC-ACID 4,860 - 48,600 ppm
GLUTAMIC-ACID 26,300 - 28,068 ppm
GLYCINE 10,500 ppm;
GRAMISTEROL 36 - 77 ppm


HISTIDINE 3,700 - 3,949 ppm
IRON 94 - 390 ppm
ISOLEUCINE 4,100 - 5,870 ppm
LEUCINE 8,700 - 10,780 ppm
LIGNIN 160,000 ppm;
LINOLEIC-ACID 121,500 - 227,798
LYSINE 3,100 - 3,842 ppm
MAGNESIUM 4,300 - 5,300 ppm
MANGANESE 5 - 168 ppm
METHIONINE 5,400 - 5,763 ppm
OBTUSIFOLIOL 26 - 56 ppm
OLEIC-ACID 15,000 - 50,000 ppm
PALMITIC-ACID 7,500 - 31,590 ppm
PHENYLALANINE 6,900 - 7,364 ppm
PHOSPHORUS  4,100 - 7,257 ppm
POTASSIUM 4,600 - 7,577 ppm
PROLINE 5,900 - 6,297 ppm
SERINE 8,300 - 8,858 ppm
SODIUM 180 ppm;
STEARIC-ACID 1,875 - 12,150 ppm
THREONINE 3,500 - 4,600 ppm
TRYPTOPHAN 2,400 - 16,000 ppm
TYROSINE 3,400 - 3,629 ppm
VALINE 5,200 - 8,645 ppm
WATER 63,000 - 83,000 ppm
ZINC 70 - 90 ppm


CALCIUM 12,100 - 23,400 ppm
CARBOHYDRATES 460,000 - 671,000 ppm
FAT 23,000 - 43,000 ppm
FIBER 156,000 - 234,000 ppm
MAGNESIUM 2,700 - 3,900 ppm

PHOSPHORUS 1,700 - 3,700 ppm
POTASSIUM 12,700 - 35,100 ppm
PROTEIN Cf 150,000 - 176,054 ppm
QUERCETIN 91,000 - 207,000 ppm
TANNIN 110,000 ppm





It is possible to eat the root and the flowers of the Evening primrose.  The root is cooked, normally by boiling, and can be eaten like salsify.  The flesh is described as ‘sweet and succulent, wholesome and nutritious, with a peppery taste somewhat resembling salsify or parsnips’.

As there are conflicting opinions about other parts of the plant, like the shoots they should be avoided.  The flowers, however, can be eaten and used in salads or as decoration for rice or other dish.  They impart a sweet flavour.


There is a warning given by all responsible websites about Evening primrose oil.  There is a chemical in the seeds that lowers the threshold for epileptic fits.  Combining evening primrose oil with phenothiazines (allopathic medication) can trigger seizures.

If you overdose or don’t take the capsules with a meal or after one you can get headaches, nausea and diarrhoea.

Given that LA and GLA help with blood clotting, there will also be negative interactions if you are on  anticoagulants.

How it works

Evening primrose oil heals, but it heals not by having some sort of magic ingredient in it, it heals by helping the immune system fight invaders and by providing the body with all the essential minerals and fatty acids it needs to repair itself.  It is not 'anti-bacterial', or 'anti-viral', it is a sort of food.   It is not  a complete food - there are minerals missing and it has no vitamin content, so if you decided to live off it you would get sick pretty quickly, but it is a great help as a source of essential nutrients.

And, like most seeds - and this is key Evening primrose oil isn't the only seed to be a 'semi-complete' food; - by eating it you ensure you are not nutritionally deprived and if you are not nutritionally deprived, you have a far better chance that your body can help heal you. 

Imagine you have a willing army of troops in your body.  To help them fight for you, you need to keep them well  nourished,....  well, Evening primrose seed along with many other seeds and nuts feeds the troupes!

References and further reading

Related observations