Evening primrose oil for menopause

Perimenopause and menopause can cause a number of uncomfortable symptoms like hot flashes. While there are a number of best practices and lifestyle changes that can help reduce these symptoms, they may not work for everyone.

Perimenopause symptoms can occur for years before periods end. Once a woman hasn’t had a period for 12 months, she is in menopause. Symptoms continue, but most women report they lessen over time.

Evening primrose oil is an alternative treatment to alleviate pain and discomfort during menopause.

What is evening primrose?

Evening primrose is a flower native to North America but also found in Europe and parts of the Southern hemisphere. The evening primrose has yellow flower petals that bloom in the evening.

In the past, Native Americans used evening primrose for healing purposes. The leaves were used for minor wounds and sore throats, while the entire plant was used for bruises.

Modern medicine uses the oil extract from evening primrose seeds in supplements to treat eczema, breast pain, and menopausal symptoms. Evening primrose oil (EPO) is high in specific fatty acids.

How does it work?

Your body needs a balance of nutrients and fatty acids to function properly. Omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for brain function and bone health. You can only get these healthy acids through foods and products like EPO.

EPO contains high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and linolenic acid, which are both omega-6 fatty acids. These acids reduce inflammation.

EPO can be taken orally or applied topically. It’s important to discuss your dosage with your health care provider. If the dosage is too high, you could experience painful side effects.

Side effects of evening primrose oil

Short-term use of EPO has been shown to be safe. However, it is not recommended that you take this oil supplement for long periods of time.

EPO can cause some adverse side effects, including:

Doctors also recommend taking this supplement alone rather than in combination with other medication. Interactions with other drugs can cause bleeding, increase the risk of seizures, and reduce the effectiveness of prescribed drugs.

There are far fewer side effects from using this oil topically. However, an allergic reaction is still possible.

Evening primrose oil research

In addition to maintaining proper health, GLA found in EPO produces prostaglandins, a hormone that generates an inflammatory response and also regulates blood flow.

Some women have had some success using EPO to treat menopause symptoms.

In a 2013 clinical trial, EPO was taken orally for six weeks against a placebo to test the effectiveness of the supplement in improving hot flashes. Results showed that there was a reduction in the severity of the hot flashes, and, to a lesser extent, in the frequency or duration.

Other studies find EPO a noneffective treatment for menopause. A 2006 study lists EPO as a nonhormonal treatment for menopausal hot flashes but also confirmed there was little data to show its effectiveness on this condition.

Similarly, a 2016 article on relieving menopause symptoms explained that herbal products, including EPO, aren’t reliable solutions. It also explained that using this product in conjunction with other medical treatment can cause adverse effects such as bleeding.

Supplements aren’t monitored by a governing body so are more susceptible to being of poor quality or contaminated. Research your brand choices.

Outlook

While there have been some success stories using EPO as an effective menopause treatment, traditional treatment options and lifestyle changes shouldn’t be ignored.

Eat whole foods, sleep in a cool room with a fan, and keep cooling gels and cold rice packs handy for the back of your neck.

Maintain a diet rich in calcium and exercise regularly.

Talk to your health care provider for additional natural options for managing the symptoms of menopause.