We’ve all had skin or hair problems that have driven us to ends of the earth to fix. And if you’ve bought every single cream, serum, and shampoo there is, only to be disappointed, we’d like to suggest evening primrose oil.
Featured on the labels of popular herbal products, evening primrose oil (EPO) contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a type of omega-6 fatty acid that is found in plants. It is these essential fatty acids that are responsible for many of the health benefits that come with evening primrose oil when ingested or applied topically.1 Here are a few that you should know of.
1. Prevents Hair Loss And Graying
Healthy hair requires, among other things, a good supply of nutrients including essential fatty acids that nourish the scalp. Emerging research is of the opinion that, like with skin, oxidative stress may be a key factor in aging. In other words, both hair loss and graying of hair could be linked to oxidative stress.2
Since EPO is rich in antioxidants like oleanolic acid, betulinic acid, and morolic acid, it could help counter oxidative stress and slow the process of graying and even hair loss.3
How to use: Simply massage the oil on to your scalp as a topical remedy or check with your doctor about taking a supplement internally.
2. Rejuvenates Tired Skin
One study found that taking EPO supplements could improve the elasticity, moisture, firmness, and fatigue resistance of your skin.4 Alternatively, you could try rejuvenating your skin by topically applying EPO oil which may promote blood circulation and oxygen supply to your skin while keeping it moisturized.
How to use: Studies suggest supplementing with 500 mg EPO capsules, 3 days a week, for 3 months but be sure to consult a professional before you do. For topical application, use a cotton ball to dab some EPO oil, mixed with a light organic carrier oil like coconut oil, on to your skin.
3. Reduces Inflammation Around Eyes
Fluid retention under the eyes leads to puffiness and dark circles.5 And a few remedies suggest using EPO topically could reduce dark circles as well as the trademark tiredness and puffiness around the eyes. This could be attributed to its toning properties that tighten up skin as well as its anti-inflammatory properties that reduce dark circles.6
How to use: Simply dilute EPO with a milder carrier oil like virgin coconut oil and vitamin E oil before dabbing it on.
4. May Reduce And Prevent Signs Of Sun Damage
Sun damage can really do a number on our skin. And EPO can not just soothe the skin but also moisturize it and prevent it from drying out. It also reduces UV ray damage and keeps it from worsening.7
Evening primrose has been tested in remedies including one that combines it with antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and pycnogenol pine bark extract. This combination of antioxidants, along with EPO, countered skin damage due to UV radiation exposure; this result was attributed to the stimulation of collagen synthesis and inhibition of wrinkle formation. However, this is an animal study and further scientific studies are needed before this can be widely recommended for humans.8
How to use: Although there isn’t a prescribed dosage or topical application procedure that studies recommend, you could look for products that contain EPO along with vitamin C, E, and pycnogenol pine bark extract and use it as per the directions on the packaging.
5. May Soothe The Symptoms Of Eczema And Psoriasis
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) and psoriasis leave you with inflamed, itchy skin. The GLA in EPO has been considered a good remedy for this as the oil helps reduce inflammation.9
In one trial, 96 percent of the test subjects on EPO showed signs of improvement of eczema symptoms by the fifth month of treatment, while just 32 percent from the placebo group had improved. However, researchers caution that the study was small and there is conflicting research that challenges these claims.10 Similarly, topical application of EPO has been found to improve the symptoms of psoriasis but further studies are required to fully validate this.
Overall, however, there are several studies pointing to the use of EPO to ease symptoms such as redness, crusting, itching, and even edema.
How to use: While you could use EPO diluted in a carrier oil topically by dabbing some onto your skin, it might be best to consult a professional before you do.
6. May Prevent Acne Breakouts
One study found that EPO could relieve cheilitis, a condition caused by the acne drug isotretinoin, which leads to inflammation and pain in the lips. The dosage for this experiment was 50-milligram (mg) capsules of EPO 3 times daily for a total of 8 weeks.11
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, androgens (male hormones) can cause acne flare-ups in men and women. While many women with acne may have normal hormone levels, some experience other symptoms of excess androgen, which could be responsible for acne. These signs include infrequent menstrual periods and excess body and facial hair.12
First-hand accounts EPO as a topical treatment for acne when mixed with carrier oils like coconut oil, or with other oils that have skincare benefits like peppermint, which is antiseptic, are numerous. A few studies have found that the gamma-linolenic acid in EPO can help treat hormonal imbalance when taken internally.13 EPO may also act as an anti-inflammatory agent that cuts the irritation and redness when applied topically.
However, such claims and the theories about its effectiveness in treating psoriasis, acne, or diaper rash are not backed up with any kind of solid scientific evidence and remain conjecture for now.
How to use: One study suggests opting for 400 mg of gamma-linolenic acid for 10 weeks, but be sure to consult a professional before doing so.
Evening Primrose Oil Should Be Used With Caution
EPO must always be taken after consulting a doctor, especially if using on a child or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. People with certain health conditions should avoid using this:
- If you’ve epilepsy (or any other condition that puts you at risk of seizures), as there have been instances of EPO triggering seizures
- If you’ve any blood disorders or bleeding problems
- If taking blood-thinning and blood-pressure medication, phenothiazines, antidepressants, or medication to control seizures, as EPO may adversely interact with these drugs
For everyone else, usage as prescribed is fine. Note that side effects might include nausea, headaches, or stomach pain.
|↑1||Evening Primrose Oil, University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑2||Trueb, Ralph M. “Oxidative stress in ageing of hair.” International journal of trichology 1, no. 1 (2009): 6.|
|↑3||Puri, Basant K. “The clinical advantages of cold-pressed non-raffinated evening primrose oil over refined preparations.” Medical hypotheses 62, no. 1 (2004): 116-118.|
|↑4||Muggli, R. “Systemic evening primrose oil improves the biophysical skin parameters of healthy adults.” International journal of cosmetic science 27, no. 4 (2005): 243-249.|
|↑5||Under-eye circles — how can I get rid of them? Columbia University.|
|↑6||Zand, Janet, Allan N. Spreen, and James B. LaValle. Smart medicine for healthier living. Penguin, 1999.|
|↑7||Korać, Radava R., and Kapil M. Khambholja. “Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation.” Pharmacognosy reviews 5, no. 10 (2011): 164.|
|↑8||Cho, Ho‐Song, Min‐Ho Lee, Jae Woong Lee, Kyong‐Ok No, Sang‐Ki Park, Heon‐Sik Lee, Sangjin Kang et al. “Anti‐wrinkling effects of the mixture of vitamin C, vitamin E, pycnogenol and evening primrose oil, and molecular mechanisms on hairless mouse skin caused by chronic ultraviolet B irradiation.” Photodermatology, photoimmunology & photomedicine 23, no. 5 (2007): 155-162.|
|↑9||Horrobin, David F. “Essential fatty acid metabolism and its modification in atopic eczema.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 71, no. 1 (2000): 367s-372s.|
|↑10||Senapati, Swapan, Sabyasachi Banerjee, and Dwijendra Nath Gangopadhyay. “Evening primrose oil is effective in atopic dermatitis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial.” Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology 74, no. 5 (2008): 447.|
|↑11||Park, Kui Young, Eun Jung Ko, In Su Kim, Kapsok Li, Beom Joon Kim, Seong Jun Seo, Myeung Nam Kim, and Chang Kwun Hong. “The effect of evening primrose oil for the prevention of xerotic cheilitis in acne patients being treated with isotretinoin: a pilot study.” Annals of dermatology 26, no. 6 (2014): 706-712.|
|↑12||Hormonal factors key to understanding acne in women. American Academy of Dermatology.|
|↑13||Jung, Jae Yoon, Hyuck Hoon Kwon, Jong Soo Hong, Ji Young Yoon, Mi Sun Park, Mi Young Jang, and Dae Hun Suh. “Effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid and gamma-linolenic acid on acne vulgaris: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial.” Acta dermato-venereologica 94, no. 5 (2014): 521-526.|