Healthy skin, bright eyes and focus—it’s what we’re all after, is it not? And while we can do plenty to achieve these things—from wearing a wide-brimmed hat outdoors to prioritizing sleep and dining on vitamin-rich eats—sometimes we need a boost to take our health from good to great.
Introducing evening primrose oil. Derived from the miniscule seeds of the Oenothera biennis—a flowering perennial native to North America and found in Europe and Asia—evening primrose oil has been linked to a host of potential benefits. Frequently used and consumed by Native Americans, people have been calling upon its beauty and health-boosting benefits for centuries. Here’s all you need to know about the wonderful, night-blooming wildflower.
One of the biggest lures of evening primrose oil, which is also called sun drop, night willow herb and fever plant, is the fact that it brims with omega-6 fatty acids—compounds that are essential to optimal health, such as brain function and mineral absorption. The home remedy also organically encourages skin health: The National Institutes of Health, for one, published results from a study that demonstrated EPO (as it’s also commonly known) significantly improved skin moisture, elasticity, and firmness after twelve weeks of oral administration. Additionally, evening primrose oil supports a healthy inflammatory response and tear production (thanks in part to its inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids, which naturally bolster eye health and lubrication and may keep dryness and irritation at bay). What’s more, one of the fatty acids found in EPO, gamma-linolenic acid (or GLA), may have an affect prostaglandins—lipids that impact everything from PMS to breast pain.†
What's an ideal evening primrose oil dosage — and form?
Evening primrose oil—which is available in health food stores, online and by prescription—can be found in capsules, in liquid (as a pure oil), and in beauty products. If taking an EPO supplement, your dosage will be dependent on the health aims you’re after (those hoping to naturally support eye lubrication, for example, should take 15 mg twice a day, while people supplementing with EPO for skin conditions should take 3,000 mg a day). Also, be sure to eat plenty of foods that are rich in magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C, B6, and B3: Doing so will help your body use the GLA present in evening primrose oil.†
Are there any possible evening primrose oil side effects?
Evening primrose oil is generally well-tolerated and safe when used in recommended doses—and, the NIH notes, for a short period of time. Side effects, while rare, may include nausea, dizziness, intestinal distress (such as diarrhea), and/or a rash.
Pregnant? Be sure to get the green light from your physician before taking EPO: The NIH reports that it “may increase the risk of some complications in pregnancy.”
Those who take blood-thinning medications should also be wary of evening primrose pil, as it may lead to increased bleeding. Steer clear of EPO if you’re prone to seizures and take a class of medications called phenothiazines, too—or if you’ve recently had surgery: Medical News Today says that EPO should not be taken within two weeks of going under general anesthesia, due to the increased seizure risk it poses.
Should I take an evening primrose oil supplement?
Looking to naturally support eye and skin health—or shooting for a healthy inflammatory response? Then it may be right for you. Should you choose to give it a try, consider Vitacost Evening Primrose Oil. The targeted wellness solution contains 10 IU of natural Vitamin E per serving, is suitable for vegetarians, and is free of common allergens such as milk, eggs, tree nuts, and gluten. With it, you, too, might bloom.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.