Native Americans used the whole plant for bruises and its roots for hemorrhoids. The leaves were traditionally used for minor wounds, gastrointestinal complaints and sore throats. Today, people use evening primrose oil dietary supplements for eczema (a condition involving red, swollen, itchy skin, sometimes caused by allergies), rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), breast pain, menopause symptoms and other conditions.
› Health benefits
Many studies in people have evaluated evening primrose oil for eczema, PMS and breast pain. Smaller numbers of studies have evaluated it for other health conditions. There’s not enough evidence to support the use of evening primrose oil for any health condition.
According to a comprehensive 2013 evaluation of the evidence, evening primrose oil, taken by mouth, is not helpful for relieving symptoms of eczema. Most studies of evening primrose oil for PMS have not found it to be helpful. Studies of evening primrose oil for breast pain have had conflicting results.
A small amount of evidence suggests that evening primrose oil might be helpful for diabetic neuropathy (nerve problems caused by diabetes).
› How much do I need?
The dosage varies depending on age and what it is being used for. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels, and consult your pharmacist, physician or other healthcare professional before using.
Evening primrose oil is probably safe for most people when taken for short periods of time. There can be mild side effects, such as stomach upset and headache. It may increase the risk of some complications of pregnancy. Talk with your health care provider if you’re considering using evening primrose oil during pregnancy. Evening primrose oil may increase bleeding in people who are taking the anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication warfarin (Coumadin).
› Dietary supplements
Evening primrose oil is obtained from the seeds of the evening primrose plant and is usually sold in capsule form.
Source: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
Please consult your health care provider before making changes to your vitamin/supplement regimen.