Considered popularly as women's plant, evening primrose is an incredibly beneficial plant for health, especially of women.
Evening primrose oil comes from its seeds and is used in the treatment of some conditions, especially dermatological, as well as for the treatment of menopause and premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
But what are its benefits? What is it good for and how to take it? Are there any side effects that may make its consumption inadequate?
This plant is scientifically known under the name of Oenothera biennis, which belongs to the Oenothera species. This is a plant species of American origin, specifically from North America, which was introduced in Europe around the seventeenth century when it served as food in times of shortage.
It has large alternate leaves in the shape of a rosette, with toothed edges and wonderful flowers with a characteristic yellow color, and tremendously odorous.
From its seeds is obtained the evening primrose oil, which is extracted directly from the cold extrusion of the seeds found inside the evening primrose flowers.
The oil is rich in polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, mainly linoleic acid in its largest amount, and to a lesser extent gamma linolenic (belonging to the group of Omega 6 acids).
Some people claim that evening primrose, and particularly its oil, stands out mainly for its qualities for women. As we will see in the next section specially dedicated to it, evening primrose oil is considered useful throughout the different stages that women undergo throughout their lives.
For example, it is said to have benefits for premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as its high gamma-linolenic acid content (which contributes to the segregation of prostaglandins) would calm the symptoms associated with it.
It is also considered useful during menstruation, especially in the case of irregular menstruation. In this sense, it could help to regulate it naturally, besides calming the cramps caused by menstruation.
Apart from the previous, there are other benefits:
Lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Evening primrose oil is said to help lower high levels of LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol.
Anticoagulant qualities: In case of varicose veins, hemorrhoids or phlebitis, evening primrose oil could be a good option, as it favors the dilation of the arteries.
Reduces arterial hypertension: Thanks to the same anticoagulant properties we talked about in the previous section, favoring the dilation of the arteries would naturally help to lower the high arterial pressure.
Erectile dysfunction: The properties of evening primrose oil may also be beneficial for men. For example, it may help naturally in case of sexual impotence by increasing blood supply to the penis.
Evening primrose is often referred to as women's plant. In fact, if you've ever been interested in it, it's quite possible that you discovered it by this name, and not really by its more precise denomination.
The main reason for this is that most of the therapeutic and medicinal properties attributed to it are ideal for women.
Ancient Native Americans used it to treat some diseases and disorders affecting women in the community.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that usually begin two weeks before the onset of menstruation and consists of both physical and psychological changes that occur before the start of the period, and then usually disappear with it.
The most common symptoms are pain, swelling, irritation, and migraines.
To alleviate these discomforts and symptoms, evening primrose oil could be useful to soothe them, thanks to its richness in gamma-linolenic acid, which naturally contributes to the segregation of prostaglandins (specifically prostaglandin E1), hormones that reduce inflammatory processes.
According to some studies, evening primrose oil may help reduce nausea, bloating, breast tenderness, and headaches in women during PMS.
While during PMS evening primrose oil would help soothe your symptoms and discomfort, during menstruation it could also be a very good natural treatment.
For example, it is considered a traditional remedy useful when naturally regulating irregular menstruation, and as a tranquilizer to alleviate the pain caused by it.
Menopause is a time when a woman's ovaries stop producing eggs, while her body produces a smaller amount of key hormones such as progesterone or estrogens. As a result, typical menopausal symptoms appear, such as fluid retention, hot flashes, dry mucous membranes, moodiness, and irritability, among others.
Evening primrose oil may be useful for relieving menopause-associated symptoms in a completely natural way. This is mainly due to its high content in phytoestrogens, which are chemical compounds found in many plants with action similar to human estrogens - hence helping to calm the discomfort caused by menopause.
The fact is that the skin can also benefit from evening primrose oil for acne. For example, thanks to its richness in essential fatty acids, it helps to increase hydration.
As a result, the skin becomes brighter and more luminous. For this reason, it is convenient to apply it on dry skin.
The most common thing is to consume it in the form of capsules of 500 or 1000 mg. Also, it is usually presented in capsules with vitamin E, as it helps prevent oxidation.
Therefore, although the dose depends on the patient and the ailment to be treated, the most common is an intake of 3 capsules of evening primrose oil a day. However, it will be the doctor or nutrition specialist who recommends the most appropriate dose.
As with any other nutritional supplement, certain contraindications make the consumption of evening primrose oil not recommended in some situations. The most common are the following:
It can cause uterine contractions during pregnancy, which is why its use is not recommended in case of gestation, as complications increase during this stage.
Since it promotes bleeding, its consumption is not recommended in the case of coagulation disorders. Moreover, this oil is known to interact with antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs. For this reason, it is also not recommended before or after surgery.
It is believed that the consumption of evening primrose oil might increase the likelihood of epileptic seizures or convulsions in predisposed people.
Bayles B, Usatine R. Evening primrose oil. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Dec 15;80(12):1405-8.
Abernethy K. Options for the treatment of menopausal symptoms. Nurs Times. 2007 Mar 6-12;103(10):28-9.
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