The Evening Primrose is a pretty yellow flower, that blooms daily, in the evening, just around sunset, hence its common name. One of my nicest memories is of my Granny and me sitting outside, waiting for the flowers to bloom on this really cool bush! I was amazed by the fact that I could watch them open. In fact, they open pretty quickly once they begin, and I was always rather disappointed when the final ones bloomed.
Oenothera Biennis is the botanical name for the Evening Primrose, and the oil we use comes from the seeds of the flower blossoms. While I purchase evening primrose oil from a vendor that sells organic, cold pressed oil, this oil is typically distilled by the use of the chemical, hexane. And, while my Granny's bush was intentionally planted, evening primrose is actually a common wildflower, found throughout much of North America, Europe, and even in parts of Asia.
Historically speaking, Native Americans boiled and ate the nutty flavored root of the evening primrose for nutritional support, as well as a medicinal treatment for sore throats and stomach aches. Additionally, the leaves were used as poultices, to treat bruises and hemorrhoids. European settlers took the root back to England and Germany where it was introduced as food, and became known as German rampion, because it grew as a crawling vine. sore throats, stomachaches, hemorrhoids, and bruises. It was also a Shaker medicine that was sold commercially.
In the past 20 years, the evening primrose oil has gained popularity for its medicinal properties, and it is now a common dietary supplement. It is prized for its abundant food, health, cosmetic and medicinal benefits. It is because of its many health benefits that the Evening Primrose Seed Oil is a wonderful supplement. It can be taken alone, or drizzled on top of salads or other prepared meals. While it is suitable for food use, you do have to exercise caution, as excessive ingestion may cause bloating or abdominal upset. You also need to exercise caution during the purchasing phase, as some manufacturers blend their Evening Primrose Seed oil with another carrier oil, which degrades the potency and the quality of the evening primrose, and it may also adversely affect your health, if it is not blended with another food grade quality oil.
The seeds of the evening primrose are a rich source of linoleic and gamma linoleic acid, omega 6 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids. You may remember that essential fatty acids cannot be produced by our own bodies, so they must be obtained from dietary sources. While there are bad omega 6 fatty acids, like those typically found in the standard American diet, the good kind, the health-promoting kind, is what is contained in the evening primrose oil. It is these essential fatty acids that support our physiological functions, and are required, in order to maintain healthy cells and healthy body functions. These essential fatty acids affect our cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and reproductive systems. In addition, Evening Primrose Seed Oil has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, blood thinning and vessel dilator properties. It has been claimed to be shown as an effective treatment for the following conditions; cramps, mood swings and breast tenderness associated with premenstrual syndrome, nerve damage associated with diabetes, memory deficiency related to alzheimers, attention deficit disorder, damage from multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus related inflammation, numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, and/or legs, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, symptoms related to Raynaud's disease, hypercholesterolimia, fibrocystic breast disease, skin ulcerations, osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, weight loss, rashes, hives, and high blood pressure.
Evening primrose oil is absorbed quickly into skin, where those essential fatty acids help to inhibit bacterial growth while encouraging antibodies, thereby enabling the skin to better defend against infection and/or inflammation. For those with extra dry skin it is a wonderful soother, but it works especially well for the treatment of acne, rosacea, premature ageing, and eczema. Also, it is an excellent source of nourishment for the scalp, hair, and the nails. In fact, more than 30 [human] studies have reported the benefits of evening primrose oil for treating eczema and dermatitis. One study, of 1,207 patients, reported that evening primrose oil helped skin conditions that included itching, crusting, swelling, and redness.
If you suffer from extra dry skin, you can either apply this oil directly on the skin, or add some into your soap, lotion or cream recipes. A small amount of it goes a long way, so it doesn't take that much to be effective. In fact, it is recommended that you use only 1 tablespoon of oil per 5 pounds of soap, when making cold process soap, but it should never be heated, so only add it at trace, never as a base oil. In other products, just add it after the heating phase is complete. It is best to store this oil in the refrigerator in order to help prolong its shelf life, which tends to be about six months
Even though herbal remedies are a time-honored approach to strengthening the body and treating diseases, I do have to caution you to seek professional care prior to beginning any new treatment plan, as many herbs and oils contain ingredients and/or possess properties that could interact with certain conditions and/or medications. That being said, Evening primrose oil is generally considered safe, when its used in recommended dosages, and the reported side effects are mild and rare. However, if you are taking this oil as a supplement, and you develop stomach pain and/or loose stools, you are probably taking an excessive dose, and you should speak with your physician about the issues. This oil is considered safe for use during pregnancy and lactation, but, since it possess blood thinning properties, should not be taken if you have any type of blood disorder or bleeding problems. Additionally, no omega 6 supplement, including evening primrose oil, should be used by people who have a seizure disorder, as it may induce seizures.