The Goods on Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) is a yellow wildflower native to North America. It’s not actually related to the primrose family, although the flowers appear similar. The root and leaves were traditionally used by Native Americans as both food and for health. Oil extracted from the seeds of Evening Primrose for dietary supplements is a rich source of fatty acids, including some Omega-6 linoleic acid (LA) and high concentrations of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

How does Evening Primrose Oil relate to Essential Fatty Acids?

Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are healthy fats our body requires from dietary sources for optimum health because it can’t synthesise them. The two main categories of EFAs are Omega-3 and Omega-6, which we need in an optimum ratio of between 1:1 and 1:4. The Omega-6 EFA linoleic acid (LA) is converted in the body to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), however, an inefficient conversion process can cause a GLA deficiency. While this is more likely with aging, poor diet, nutrient deficiency, and certain health concerns, many activities common to our modern lifestyle compromise our internal GLA production. In such cases, GLA supplementation can be supportive for wellbeing. GLA is also found in spirulina and the oils extracted from borage, hemp, blackcurrant, and flaxseeds.

What is the function of Evening Primrose Oil in the body?

Our body converts GLA into hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. These play a role in energy production, hormonal balance, immune response, circulation, joint function, and skin health. GLA is important in counteracting the unfavourable action of other dietary fats when consumed in excess. GLA and other EFAs contribute to cellular membrane integrity and form the myelin sheath, the insulating layer around nerve cells that aids the transmission of information to vital organs.

Why would I take Evening Primrose Oil supplementation?

Based on established scientific research, Evening Primrose Oil benefits include:

  • Supports the immune system
  • Healthy bones – especially for older individuals
  • Balanced mood
  • Supports hormonal balance during PMS
  • When taken internally and applied topically, EPO supports healthy, youthful, dewy skin
  • Supports mental clarity and recall
  • Supports cervix health in preparation for delivery
  • Supports the frequency and duration of hot flashes during perimenopause
  • Very supportive of emotional wellbeing during and after menopause 

While Evening Primrose oil provides a rich source of GLA, taking it in combination with an Omega-3 supplement may be the best option, if your diet is low in Omega-3. In addition to taking an Evening Primrose supplement internally, it can be applied topically to localised areas of dry or scaly skin.

What is the recommended daily dosage?

Most Evening Primrose Oil supplements come in 1000 mg capsules. It’s recommended to take the supplement according to instructions on the label. Being a fatty acid, it is best taken with meals to support digestion and absorption.

Can it be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

EPO can be taken during the preconception stage before ovulation to support healthy cervical mucus. The cervical mucus nourishes and guides the sperm through the cervix, facilitating conception. It is best to stop taking EPO after ovulation up until your next cycle starts.

You can start taking EPO again near the end of a pregnancy (from the 36th week), as it can support the condition the cervix in preparation for delivery. EPO can be taken during breastfeeding, as breast milk also contains linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. For more information about the nutritional needs during breastfeeding, it’s best to speak with your midwife or health practitioner.

Taking Evening Primrose Oil for menopause

EPO is an excellent supplement for women who are going through perimenopause as well as after menopause. The GLA from Evening Primrose Oil supports the body's natural prostaglandin balance for a smooth menopausal experience. There is plenty of research looking into the ways that EPO can support women during this time:

  • Supports healthy bones, joints, and circulation.
  • Can support the duration and frequency of hot flushes.
  • Support the tissue of the vaginal walls, vulva, and cervical mucus production.
  • EPO can support the emotional changes that occur during and after menopause.
  • Conditions and softens the skin. 

Who can’t take Evening Primrose Oil?

When essential fatty acids are consumed through the diet there is generally no risk of over doing it. However, when supplementing, care should be taken by those who have epilepsy, or if you are taking prescribed blood thinners. If you are not quite sure, then its best to consult with your health practitioner about possible interactions before supplementing with EPO. 

Importance of sustainable harvesting and pollution free sources

About 90% of the world’s supply of Evening Primrose Oil is produced in China. Our Evening Primrose Oil supplements are made from organic sources using a cold pressed oil extraction method to provide the purest form of supplementation. Some EPO supplements contain a small proportion of vitamin E to enhance the stability of the fatty acids, which tend to oxidise quickly. It’s important to store these supplements in a cool, dry place to extend their shelf life.

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