Evening Primrose is a pretty little plant that grows wild on waste ground all over the world. But don’t be fooled – this is a majestic plant! The seeds from its dainty yellow flowers produce an oil that has a wealth of medicinal uses for a wide variety of complaints.
Evening Primrose is also a fascinating plant. Although a member of the willow herb family, it has adopted the “primrose” name. Its dainty bright yellow, lemon-scented flowers open at dusk, one circle of flowers at a time. The flowers open so quickly that the buds can be watched as they open. Enjoy a few of these pretty plants in your border or in patio pots and you will be rewarded with the most wonderful aroma on warm summer nights.
Native Americans have treated wounds and breathing problems with the roots and leaves of the evening primrose for centuries. In fact the whole plant is edible and it is the oil of the crushed seeds – evening primrose oil (EPO) – that modern research has shown to be beneficial for a wide range of conditions. It is often cited as the perfect herbal supplement.
EPO is rich in Gamma Linolenic Acid or GLA, an important omega-6 fatty acid also found in mother’s milk (and also in borage oil and blackcurrant seed oil). If the body has sufficient GLA, that in turn will assist the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins that play an important role in cell rejuvenation, regulation of blood pressure, reduction of cholesterol production, and an improvement in the activity of the immune system. In other words, a whole array of benefits!
EPO has long been associated with the treatment of pre-menstrual symptoms such as irritability and breast pain. Additionally, it is often recommended to treat eczema and other skin disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, alcoholism, childhood hyperactivity and schizophrenia – the list of benefits is growing as further research is completed. It is frequently recommended that EPO is taken in conjunction with fish oils, which are omega-3 fatty acids. There is a special reaction between these two important fatty acids that can ensure the body’s hormonal reaction to conditions associated with allergy, inflammation, pain and swelling is balanced, therefore providing maximum benefit.
The evening primrose was officially introduced in to Europe in 1614. Because of its wealth of medicinal properties it was known as “Kings Cure All”. There are very few side effects associated with EPO but as with all herbal remedies, you should consult your doctor before use.
In particular, it is best avoided during pregnancy because of its effects on hormones. It should be avoided by anyone taking blood-thinning products such as aspirin and warfarin, and it can also react badly with orthodox drugs used to treat epilepsy and schizophrenia.