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.
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.
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.
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:
- Minerals - are colour coded red, the ones that are present in the seed are as follows, I have provided a link through to the entry which shows what happens if there is any imbalance:
- Potassium imbalance - Hypokalemia and hyperkalemia
- Sodium imbalance - Hyponatremia and Hypernatremia
- Calcium imbalance - -Hypocalcaemia and -Hypercalcaemia
- Phosphorus imbalance - Hypophosphatemia and hyperphosphatemia
- Magnesium imbalance - Hypomagnesemia and Hypermagnesemia
- Iron imbalance - and heavy metal poisoning
- Copper imbalance - and copper toxicity
- Manganese imbalance - and manganism
- Zinc imbalance
- The ones it does NOT contain essential to human health are :
- 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
HISTIDINE 3,700 - 3,949 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
- Dermatitis and Evening primrose oil 012139
- Dose-dependent effects of evening primrose oil in children and adolescents with atopic dermatitis 012140
- Dr Duke's list of cystine containing plants to boost the immune system 012486
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing ARGININE 017958
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing GLYCINE 017955
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing HISTIDINE 019061
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing LYSINE 017957
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing PHENYLALANINE 017936
- Dr Duke's list of Plants containing PROLINE 017956
- Dr Duke's list of Plants Containing QUERCETIN 021446
- Dr Duke's list of plants having chemicals with vasodilatory activity 017836
- Dr Duke's list of plants having high concentrations of Estrogenic activity 017893
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiacne Activity 018404
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antialcoholic Activity 018406
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiarteriosclerotic activity 018345
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiarthritic activity 018346
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiasthmatic activity 018347
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiasthmatic Activity 018412
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiatherogenic and Antiatheroscleroticactivity 018349
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiatherosclerotic Activity 018414
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (breast) activity 018453
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (cervix) activity 018454
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticancer (lung) activity 018462
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticataract activity 018378
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticolitic activity 018436
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticrohn's activity 018435
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Anticystitic activity 018442
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidepressant activity 018472
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidermatitic activity 018427
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidiabetic activity 018473
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antidysenteric activity 018475
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antieczemic activity 018421
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antiflu activity 019584
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antihypertensive activity 018444
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antileishmanic Activity of high potency 018274
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antileukemic activity 019585
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antimalarial activity of high chemical potency 018058
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with AntiMS activity 019578
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antimyocarditic activity 018437
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with AntiPMS Activity 018419
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with AntiPolio activity of high chemical potency 018298
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Antitrypanosomic Activity of high potency 018272
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Candidicide activity 018389
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Candidicide Activity 021073
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Copper chelator activity 018387
- Dr Duke's list of plants with high concentrations of chemicals with vasodilatory activity 017835
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with HIV-RT-Inhibitor Activity 018288
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with HIV-RT-Inhibitor Activity of high potency 018289
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Neuroprotective activity 019583
- Dr Duke's list of Plants with Plasmodicidal activity of high chemical potency 018297
- Dr Dukes list of plants with high concentrations of Antiestrogenic activity 017913
- Dr Dukes list of plants with high concentrations of Estrogenic activity 017914
- Fish oil, evening primrose oil, linoleic acid and psoriasis 012002
- Mrs Grieve on Evening Primrose 012147
- Rheumatoid arthritis, Evening Primrose oil and Fish oil 012003
- The sterols isolated from Evening Primrose oil modulate the release of proinflammatory mediators 017002