Nutrition Made Simple


March 02 2021



Evening primrose oil, commonly known as EPO, is derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant called Oenothera biennis. Traditional uses of EPO included treatment of bruises, hemorrhoids, digestive problems, and sore throats. EPO is a good source of omega-6 essential fatty acids. It also comprises linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which are considered the essential components of the protective coating around nerve fibers known as myelin.

Various health benefits of evening primrose oil

  • Helps in clearing up acne – The gamma-linolenic acid present in evening prime rose oil plays a huge role in clearing acne. It functions by reducing skin inflammation as well as the number of skin cells that cause lesions. It also helps the skin in retaining moisture. According to a 2014 study, it was found out that EPO helped relieve cheilitis, a condition involving pain as well as inflammation in the lips and caused by the drug isotretinoin. Another study demonstrated found the GLA supplements were indeed very beneficial in reducing non-inflammatory as well as inflammatory acne lesions.
  • Helps ease eczema – EPO has been approved in many countries to treat inflammatory skin conditions, like eczema. According to a study, GLA in EPO helped in improving the skin’s epidermis, thereby helped in easing out eczema.
  • Helps in improving overall skin health – A 2005 study found out that oral supplementation of EPO helped in maintaining smooth skin and also improved skin’s elasticity, moisture content, firmness, and fatigue resistance. GLA is often considered a necessity for ideal skin structure and function. But our skin is unable to produce GLA on its own. Therefore, researchers very often recommend the use of GLA-rich EPO supplementation to help maintain good overall skin health.
  • Helps relieve PMS symptoms – Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is often associated with symptoms such as depression, irritability, and bloating. According to an older study, EPO was found very effective in treating symptoms associated with PMS. Researchers have found that women experiencing PMS are generally sensitive to prolactin levels in their bodies. GLA, on its conversion to prostaglandin E1, prevents prolactin from triggering PMS. According to a 2010 study, it was found out that PMS was relieved on the consumption of a supplement containing a combination of vitamin E, vitamin B-6, and EPO. Furthermore, a 2013 study in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found out that daily consumption of evening primrose oil for six weeks provided modest relief of hot flashes.
  • Helps in minimizing breast pain – A 2010 study stated GLA’s effectiveness in reducing inflammation and inhibiting prostaglandins, which were responsible for the cause of cyclical breast pain. The study also showed that daily consumption of EPO for six months decreased the severity of cyclical breast pain.
  • Helps in reducing hot flashes – EPO helped in reducing the severity of hot flashes, which are often considered as an uncomfortable side effect of menopause. A study showed that women who daily consumed 500 milligrams of EPO for six weeks, experienced less severe, less frequent, and shorter hot flashes.
  • Helps in reducing nerve pain – One of the common side effects of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. According to research, linolenic was found very effective in reducing neuropathic symptoms, such as hot and cold sensitivity, weakness, tingling, weakness. Moreover, according to several clinical trials, consumption of evening primrose for 6-12 months, helped in improving symptoms related to nerve damage caused by diabetes. A small randomized trial published in Diabetic Medicine stated that people who consumed EOD for 6 months showed significant statistical improvement in the neuropathic scores, including nerve conduction test as compared to people who consumed a placebo. Furthermore, a 12-month study conducted in India reported that 88% of 80 people suffering from severe diabetic neuropathy, achieved pain relief on daily consumption of 500-1,000 milligrams dose of evening primrose oil along with 400 milligrams of vitamin E.
  • Helps ease bone pain – Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disorder, is often responsible for bone pain. According to a systematic review conducted in 2011, it was found out that GLA present in EPO effectively reduced rheumatoid arthritis pain without causing any unwanted side effects. Moreover, an 18-month study conducted in South Africa reported that older women who consumed a combination of primrose oil, fish oil, and calcium supplements, experienced slow or reversed bone as compared to those who consumed the only placebo.

Risks and side effects associated with consumption of EPO

For short term use, EPO has been generally considered safe for most people. But its safety before long-term use hasn’t been determined yet. However mild side effects, such as stomach upset, stomach pain, headache, and soft stools have been observed in some people who consumed EPO. Moreover, EPO also causes allergic symptoms in some patients such as inflammation of hands and feet, rashes, breathing difficulty, wheezing, etc. Furthermore, people on a blood thinner or blood pressure medication were often advised not to consume EPO as it may result in dangerous drug interactions.

Evening primrose is generally sold in gel cap form and is readily available in all sorts of health food stores or pharmacies.


According to several types of research, it is evident that EPO is very effective in treating several health problems or conditions on its own or as a complementary therapy. However, more research is required. To date, there is no standardized dosing for EPO consumption. Most dosage recommendations are mostly based on previously conducted research studies. Therefore, consultation with a physician is highly recommended before consuming EOD. Moreover, the lowest dose is often recommended to reduce the risks of side effects. In any case, if any unusual or persistent side effects are noticed during EOD therapy, the therapy should be discontinued and immediate consultation with a doctor is highly advised.

Example of a good EOD supplement

Alvizia’s ALENEVE NUTRACEUTICAL made with 10% GLA: Evening Primrose Oil (1000mg).This incredible product provides several health benefits, such reduces the risk associated with rheumatoid arthritis, improves skin health, reduces symptoms related to menopause, and also prevents hair loss.

This article is the sole opinion of the author and Alvizia Healthcare holds no responsibility for the content. *



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