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Evening primrose oil comes from a plant native to North America, though it grows worldwide. The medicinal oil is extracted from the seeds, and may help regulate the immune system. Its polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids may suppress inflammation and help a person ward off a viral infection. Evening primrose oil is one of the purest sources of these essential nutrients.

Modern medicine uses the oil extract from evening primrose seeds in supplements to treat eczema, breast pain, and menopause symptoms. Evening primrose oil (EPO) is high in specific fatty acids. Researchers believe the high GLA content of evening primrose oil regulates the production of prostaglandins, helping reduce the inflammation that can result from hormonal changes during menstruation. Women with PMS often have low GLA levels, and it is common for women to experience cramps, breast tenderness, and irritability around their menstrual cycle. Some women find evening primrose supplements help relieve these symptoms. Many women who experience breast pain are deficient in omega-6 fatty acids. EPO can help restore normal levels and reduce breast pain.

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.

Many women experience menopause symptoms such as anxiety, mood changes, hot flashes, and joint pain. Evening primrose oil is one of the most common supplements for treating these symptoms. While research into the effectiveness of evening primrose oil in treating menopausal symptoms has mixed results, many women report relief. It’s thought that the high GLA content of evening primrose oil may ease some of the hormonal changes taking place at this time by increasing production of prostaglandins. A 2013 study found that evening primrose oil better reduces the severity of hot flashes in comparison to placebos.


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: Upset stomach or abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, allergic reaction, bleeding or seizures.

When taken in small doses, evening primrose oil has no significant side effects. People who have epilepsy or other seizure disorders should not take evening primrose oil because it can cause seizures. There are far fewer side effects from using this oil topically. However, an allergic reaction is still possible.

Doctors also recommend taking this supplement alone rather than in combination with other anti-inflammatory medications. Interactions with other drugs can cause bleeding, increase the risk of seizures, and reduce the effectiveness of prescribed drugs. EPO shouldn’t be used in place of a treatment plan recommended by your doctor.

There’s no standardized dosing for EPO. Most dosage recommendations are based on what’s been used in research. Talk to your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of taking EPO and get advice about the proper dosage for you, always use the lowest dose possible. If you begin having unusual or persistent side effects, discontinue use and see your doctor.

EPO is commonly used to help alleviate menopausal symptoms or uncomfortable PMS. I have found it to be effective with sore breasts and PMS symptoms like bloating and irritability and take it the week before my cycle starts and the week during.

Healthline: Evening Primrose Oil Health Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

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