Evening primrose can be found throughout the United States, and throughout history it has been utilized for medicinal and edible purposes. This wildflower is traditionally used to treat respiratory ailments as well as to help alleviate upset stomachs. While evening primrose has a history of usage dating back to Native American times, what exactly is it made out of?
Evening primrose is a shrub, as it does not grow very tall. It received its name as the flowers bloom immediately after sunset throughout June and September; however, it may also bloom during days where the sun is shielded from clouds. The oil associated with medicinal uses is extracted from the evening primrose seeds.
The main active ingredient found within evening primrose oil is gamma-linolenic acid as well as linolelic acid. These compounds work with the body several different ways, which allow the oil to be used in a wide variety of medicinal remedies.
A common use for evening primrose oil is to be applied topically to help relieve the symptoms of eczema. When applied to the skin, the oil works to reduce itching, scaling and redness often associated with this skin condition. A study outlined by the University of Maryland states that when evening primrose oil was applied directly to areas of the skin affected with eczema, the patients saw a reduction in the aforementioned symptoms.
Another use for evening primrose oil is to help treat arthritis. The use of this oil for arthritis has been studied since the 1980s, and throughout the studies research has found inconsistent results. While home remedies suggest massaging the oil into areas of the body where arthritis is, the University of Maryland states there is not enough evidence to either confirm nor deny the effectiveness of this oil.
As of 2010, a popular remedy evening primrose oil is used for is to help reduce the severity of menopausal hot flashes. While this is quickly becoming a popular remedy, research has not been able to determine if the use of evening primrose oil helps diminish hot flashes or any other menopausal symptoms.
To obtain the health benefits of using evening primrose oil, you may want to consume up to eight grams of evening primrose oil with a concentration of eight percent GLA per day. You may also desire to rub the oil directly onto the skin if you have skin ailments.