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PMS Help: Evening Primrose Oil — an article on the Smart Living Network
May 20, 2008 at 10:41 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

PMS Help: Evening Primrose Oil

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Evening Primrose Oil: What is it?

Evening primrose oil is derived from a plant known as the Evening Primrose, scientifically known as Oenothera biennis.  It is typically noted with the presence of small yellow wildflowers that bloom after sunset.  Interestingly, evening primrose oil was first utilized and grown as an herbal plant by the Native Americans to treat conditions that caused swelling in the body.  Europeans took the Evening Primrose where it became touted “the King’s Cure-all.â€

Gamma-Linolenic Acid

Omega-6 essential fatty acids are not capable of production by any chemical pathways within the body.  Therefore, the essential fatty acids must be obtained from the diet.   Gamma-linolenic acid is an omega-6 essential fatty acid.  Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is primarily found naturally in certain vegetable oils.  It is thought to be the primary active component in evening primrose oil responsible for its effects.  The gamma-linolenic acid is located in the seed of the plant.

Evening Primrose Oil: Uses

Evening primrose oil has been used for the natural treatment of the following conditions.  However, all of these uses have limited research to support these findings.
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Decreased risk for heart disease
  • Decreased blood clot formation
  • Decreased swelling
  • Eczema
  • Reduction of breast pain
  • Decreased premenstrual syndrome symptoms

Evening Primrose Oil and PMS: The Connections

While there is limited research to support these findings, there are studies that associated evening primrose oil with the capability of reducing premenstrual syndrome symptoms.  Particularly, evening primrose oil has been associated with the ability to decrease certain emotional symptoms such as cramps, bloating, and depression, in addition to decreased breast tenderness.  More research and studies are required to confirm and support these associations.

Evening Primrose Oil: Cautions

Evening primrose oil can cause allergic reactions in certain individuals that are allergic to certain plants or even gamma-linolenic acid.  There are also certain side effects correlated with evening primrose oil use, the most severe of which being an increased risk for seizures.  It is recommended that individuals already with a higher risk for the development of seizures not use evening primrose oil. Additionally, excessive amounts have been associated with stomach pain, nausea, headache, and loose stools.  It is also not recommended for pregnant women or those breastfeeding.  As with all supplements, you should take the time to discuss any drug interactions that may occur with the use of evening primrose oil.

Diet and Lifestyle

While there are certain studies that have found evening primrose oil effective as a treatment method for certain symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, more research is necessary to confirm these findings.  However, these studies were conducted to limited populations, and a healthy diet and lifestyle was recommended in conjunction with use of the evening primrose oil. As with all supplementation, remember to use supplements for their intended use; supplementation.  Dietary supplements of no kind can ever replace the value of a healthy diet and lifestyle, but instead are made to supplement certain deficiencies in addition to this healthy diet and lifestyle. Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/evening-primrose-oil/NS_patient-Primrose http://www.medicinenet.com/evening_primrose_oil-oral/article.htm http://nccam.nih.gov/health/eveningprimrose/D341.pdf

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