This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
Historically, evening primrose has been used for hundreds of years by indigenous tribes in North America. But what is it, and why is it beneficial? In our article below we’ll look at Oenothera biennis in more detail, including traditional use, and side effects.
What is Evening Primrose Oil?
Evening Primrose Oil is oil extracted from the seeds of the Evening Primrose wildflower, Oenothera biennis. It is most commonly sold as capsules but can sometimes be a liquid.
It is a rich source of linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) which are both essential Omega-6 fatty acids.
The Evening Primrose plant was introduced to Europe as a decorative plant in the early 17th century. However, indigenous tribes in North America had already been using the plant as food and medicine for hundreds of years.
The plant was traditionally used to treat bruises, haemorrhoids, digestive problems, and sore throats. Indigenous Americans would use the leaves and bark of the evening primrose plant for stomach and liver complaints.
Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil
The evidence for taking an Evening Primrose Oil supplement is still inconclusive, but some studies have indicated various benefits.
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that Evening Primrose Oil can ease hot flushes in menopausal women. A study in 2013 found that taking a supplement of Evening Primrose Oil for six weeks could relieve the frequency, intensity, and length of hot flushes. 
Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reports that Evening Primrose Oil can ease breast tenderness, and many women use it to relieve PMS symptoms such as water retention, breast tenderness, and low mood. 
Dry Skin Conditions
The European Medicines Agency says Evening Primrose Oil can be used for relief of itching in short-term and long-term skin conditions. People often take it to help prevent dry, itchy skin. 
A 2014 study in Korea found that the GLA in Evening Primrose Oil may improve acne by reducing inflammation and minimising scarring. 
Overall Skin Health
A 2005 study found that Evening Primrose Oil supplements helps to smooth skin and improve elasticity, moisture, firmness, and fatigue resistance. This is thanks to its GLA content, which is necessary for ideal skin structure and function.
People with rheumatoid arthritis often take Evening Primrose Oil to help ease morning stiffness.  Versus Arthritis says that although the evidence isn’t conclusive, Evening Primrose Oil may help the regulation of pain and inflammation.