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Evening Primrose Oil In The Press

A guide to treating PMS - Daily Mail

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There are many treatments for PMS on the market - from progesterone to Chinese herbs. But the most popular are evening primrose oil, anti-depressants and progesterone pessaries or vitamins.

There is no simple test to identifying PMS. The best diagnostic tool is to keep a menstrual chart or diary, which provides written evidence of the precise dates of your menstruation and symptoms.

A GP or practice nurse should be able to offer advice on appropriate therapy such as dietary changes, exercise, relaxation, stress avoidance and modifying your lifestyle.

Evening primrose oil is extracted from the evening primrose plant (Oenothera biennis), a wildflower found in North America, Europe and parts of Asia. By interfering with the production of inflammatory prostaglandins released during menstruation, the GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) in evening primrose oil can help to lessen menstrual cramps.

Minimises breast tenderness

It may also minimise pre-menstrual breast tenderness, irritable bowel flare-ups, and carbohydrate cravings, and help to control endometriosis-associated inflammation.

Many PMS sufferers are found to have unusually low levels of GLA in their systems, which is why supplements might help so much. A study at St. Thomas Hospital in London found that when PMS sufferers were given evening primrose oil three times daily, 67 per cent of the participants were symptom-free and 22 per cent achieved partial relief.

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil (EPO), is a member of the willow herb family, whose yellow flowers open during the evening and resemble the primrose plant, hence its name. Accidentally brought to Europe from North America in the 1600's, the plant quickly became known as 'King's cure all' because of the wide range of medicinal powers the herb offered.

EPO actually comes from the seeds of the plant, and contains a compound called gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which was discovered in the last century to have profound effects on cell generation and cholesterol levels.

Commonly taken to help allay the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), it can reduce irritability, depression, breast tenderness and abdominal swelling. It also appears to help eczema, psoriasis and some other skin disorders; this may be because GLA exerts important effects on prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), which modulates the action of many natural body hormones. It is for this reason that it may also help lower high serum cholesterol, blood pressure and certain kinds of arthritis.

How to treat breast pain

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Breast pain - known as mastalgia - affects two out of three women at some point in their lives. For some, it appears as a mild niggle or dull ache, for others it can become so severe the slightest knock is agony. Here, we look at the treatments for cyclical breast pain:


Evening primrose oil: It is thought that women who suffer from cyclical breast pain have low levels of gamolenic acid (GLA) - fatty acids found in our bodies which affect the way our bodies respond to its own hormones causing greater breast sensitivity.

Three quarters of women who suffer from cyclical breast pain find boosting levels of gamolenic acid helps ease symptoms. The best treatment is evening primrose oil which contains the active ingredient GLA. However, evening primrose oil bought from the chemist is unlikely to contain enough GLA to work effectively.

Doctors usually prescribe between 240-320mg a day throughout the cycle - which can take up to three months before feeling the full benefit.