Evening primrose oil is a popular component of many a remedies and cosmetic products. Its moisturizing, astringent, anti-inflammatory properties combined with essential fatty acid content, make it a good skin and hair care component to battle wrinkles, aging, sun damage, and even atopic dermatitis. However, solid evidence might be lacking for some claims.
There’s a good chance that you’ve at some point been recommended evening primrose oil as a remedy, probably for a hair or skin problem, by someone or on a blog you’ve read. You may even have noticed it on labels of popular herbal products. So what is it that has made evening primrose oil (EPO) so popular in cosmetics, soaps, and natural remedies?
EPO contains omega-6 fatty acids. Linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) are both essential fatty acids, meaning you need to consume them through diet or through supplements as your body can’t produce them.
While some omega-6 fatty acids are known to cause inflammation, there are others found in EPO that are actually good for you! And it is these essential fatty acids that are responsible for many of the health benefits you’ve heard about.
Benefits Of Evening Primrose Oil
1. 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.
Simply massage the oil on to your scalp as a topical remedy or check with your doctor about taking a supplement internally.
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.
2. Tired Skin
According to research, taking EPO supplements could improve the elasticity, moisture, firmness, and fatigue resistance of your skin.
One study evaluated the effects of EPO gel capsule intake by adults, thrice a day, for a 12-week period and found significant improvements on the skin parameters mentioned.4 While research has shown that the GLA in EPO can significantly improve vascular function in diabetic test animals, this may also help improve overall circulation.
You should be able to rejuvenate tired skin with the oil, which helps with better blood circulation and oxygen supply to your skin. Use a cotton ball to dab some on to your skin, which also moisturizes your skin. Just be sure to mix it with a light organic carrier oil, like coconut oil.
3. Dark Circles And Tired Eyes
EPO is supposed to help remove the trademark tiredness and puffiness around the eyes.
A few remedies suggest using EPO to reduce dark circles. Simply dab it on as a topical remedy, diluted with a milder carrier oil like virgin coconut oil and vitamin E oil.
For tired or strained eyes, besides nutrients like vitamin A, some suggest taking an EPO supplement to cut inflammation and swelling. Due to its toning properties that tighten up your skin, plus its anti-inflammatory action, the oil may help with dark circles.
4. UV Ray And Sun-Damaged Skin
EPO is among an array of natural herbal remedies that can nurture the skin that’s in need of repair, as is the case with sun-damaged skin. It can soothe your skin, moisturize it, and prevent it from drying out and worsening UV ray linked damage.
Evening primrose has been tested in remedies including one that combines it with antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E, and pycnogenol, a 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.
Eczema or atopic dermatitis leaves you with inflamed itchy skin. The GLA in EPO has been considered a good remedy for this as the oil helps reduce inflammation.
GLA may not only reduce eczema but cold also help reduce the dependence on antibiotics and steroids, which are stronger drugs with side effects.
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.
Overall, however, there are several studies pointing to the use of EPO to ease symptoms such as redness, crusting, itching, and even edema.
6. Acne And Other Skin Problems
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.
First-hand accounts of using 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. EPO is believed to help treat hormonal imbalance when taken internally and 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 remains conjecture for now.
Safety And Side Effects
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.