Drugs A - Z

Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis L.)

an herbal product - treats Cardiovascular health, Obesity/weight loss, Raynaud's phenomenon, Pre-ecl... more

Generic Name: evening primrose

Brand Names: Primrose Oil

Category

Herbs & Supplements

Synonyms

Bronchipret TP FCT, Echte Nachtkerze, EPO, fever plant, gamma-linolenic acid, herbe aux anes, Huile D'Onagre, kaempe natlys, king's cureall, la belle de nuit, linoleic acid, nachtkerzenol, night willow-herb, Oenothera communis Leveill, Oenothera graveolens Gilib, omega-6 essential fatty acid, Onagra biennis Scop, Onogra vulgaris, onagre bisannuelle, primrose, primrose oil, scabish, Spach, stella di sera, sun drop, Teunisbloem.

Background

Evening primrose oil (EPO) contains an omega-6 essential fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is believed to be the active ingredient. EPO has been studied in a wide variety of disorders, particularly those affected by metabolic products of essential fatty acids. However, high-quality evidence for its use in most conditions is still lacking.

Evidence

DISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema): There are several studies of evening primrose oil taken by mouth for eczema. Large well-designed studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made. Evening primrose oil is approved for skin disorders in several countries outside of the United States.
Grade: B

Breast cancer: Not enough information is available to advise the use of evening primrose oil for breast cancer. People with known or suspected breast cancer should consult with a qualified healthcare professional about possible treatments.
Grade: C

Breast cysts: The limited available research does not demonstrate that evening primrose oil has a significant effect on treating breast cysts.
Grade: C

Breast pain (mastalgia): Although primrose oil is used for breast pain in several European countries, high-quality human studies using this treatment are lacking. Therefore, the available information does not allow recommendation for or against the use of primrose oil in this condition.
Grade: C

Bronchitis: There is evidence that primrose oil, in combination with thyme, may have some benefits in the treatment of acute bronchitis. However, it is unclear if primrose alone is useful in treating bronchitis. More studies are needed to examine the effectiveness of primrose oil alone as a therapy for bronchitis.
Grade: C

Chronic fatigue syndrome/post-viral infection symptoms: Not enough information is available to advise the use of evening primrose oil for symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome or fatigue following a viral infection.
Grade: C

Diabetes: A small number of laboratory studies and theory suggests that evening primrose oil may be helpful in diabetes, but more information is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage): Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), one of the components of evening primrose oil, may be helpful in people with diabetic neuropathy. Additional studies are needed before a strong recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Multiple sclerosis (MS): It is theorized that primrose oil may be helpful in patients with MS based on laboratory studies. Limited evidence is available in humans.
Grade: C

Obesity/weight loss: Initial human study is unclear about the effects that evening primrose oil may have on weight loss.
Grade: C

Osteoporosis: Primrose oil has been suggested as a possible treatment for bone loss/osteoporosis. However, osteoporosis studies using primrose oil as a treatment are lacking. Well-designed human trials are needed before primrose oil can be recommended for osteoporosis therapy.
Grade: C

Pre-eclampsia/high blood pressure of pregnancy: Evening primrose oil is proposed to have effects on chemicals in the blood called prostaglandins, which may play a role in pre-eclampsia. However, more studies are needed before a firm conclusion can be drawn.
Grade: C

Raynaud's phenomenon: Not enough scientific information is available to advise the use of evening primrose oil for Raynaud's phenomenon.
Grade: C

Rheumatoid arthritis: Benefits of evening primrose oil in the treatment of arthritis have not clearly been shown. More information is needed before a firm recommendation can be made.
Grade: C

Scale-like dry skin (ichthyosis vulgaris): Not enough scientific information is available to advise the use of evening primrose oil for dry skin.
Grade: C

Asthma: Available evidence does not support the use of evening primrose oil as a treatment for asthma. Further research is needed to confirm this conclusion.
Grade: D

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Small human studies show a lack of benefit from evening primrose oil in ADHD. Further research is needed to confirm this conclusion.
Grade: D

Cardiovascular health: Early study of evening primrose oil shows a lack of beneficial effects on cardiovascular function and health.
Grade: D

Menopause (flushing/bone metabolism): Available studies do not show evening primrose oil to be helpful with these potential complications of menopause. More evidence of effectiveness is needed before primrose can be recommended as a treatment for menopausal symptoms.
Grade: D

Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS): Small human studies do not report that evening primrose oil is helpful for the symptoms of PMS.
Grade: D

Psoriasis: Initial research does not show a benefit from evening primrose oil in the treatment of psoriasis.
Grade: D

Schizophrenia: Results from studies of mixed quality do not support the use of evening primrose oil for schizophrenia. In contrast, fish oils have shown some promise in this disease, and further study is merited.
Grade: D

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