The common Evening Primrose plant (Oenothera biennis L.) is a wildflower that produces small, pale yellow blossoms that open their petals as dusk approaches and close them up in the early morning light. Other varieties exist as well including Showy Primrose, Pink ladies, and Pink Buttercups, and they produce pink, white, red, or purple blooms. The Evening Primrose flower symbolizes eternal youth and love. It is also thought to symbolize strong memory.
Often mistaken for a weed due to its invasiveness and appearance, the Evening Primrose plant has long been used by earlier civilizations to treat sickness. In particular, the roots of this plant have been used in remedies intended to hasten recovery from sore throats, bruising of the skin, and ailments of the digestive system. Primrose Oil is taken directly from the seeds and is an ingredient used more recently in health (herbal remedies) and beauty formulations.
The Evening Primrose plant is native to northeastern Mexico as well as many states throughout the mid United States (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska) and parts of South America. However, today it is commonly grown throughout the entire United States. It is a hardy plant that comes in varieties that can withstand long periods without water. The leaves are medium green in color and may turn red in the fall. Depending on its growing environment, this plant can grow anywhere from three to nine feet in height. It is commonly referred to by other names depending on its location, including sun drops and sun cups.
Valued by Native Americans, the Evening Primrose plant was an important part of their medicinal formulas and used to treat a variety of ailments, including the making of leaf poultices to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids and bruises. Native Americans treated colds with a tea brewed from the roots of the Evening Primrose plant and enjoyed eating this nut-flavored root boiled. Learning from this, the European settlers took up the use of the Evening Primrose plant to treat problematic issues of the skin as well.
Evening Primrose Oil has been used in a multiplicity of treatments, including those designed to help reduce the numbness associated with Raynaud's syndrome and the nerve damage caused by diabetes. It has been utilized in formulations aimed at alleviating the symptoms of high cholesterol, cancer, multiple sclerosis, alchoholism, asthma, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, heart disease, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, whooping cough, obesity, and neurodermatitis.
The Evening Primrose seeds contain an essential fatty acid known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a substance that the human body transforms into prostaglandins, important hormone-like compounds found naturally in the body that help to regulate several bodily actions. Since it contains Omega-6 fatty acids, an element that is beneficial in the regulation of insulin absorption by the human body, Evening Primrose Oil offers additional benefits to those people suffering from diabetes.
A variety of uses have been found for Evening Primrose Oil for pregnant women, including the ability to start labor, shorten labor, and alleviate high blood pressure associated with pregnancy (pre-eclampsia). It is also used to alleviate breast pain, endometriosis, cramps, and hot flashes. Nonetheless, insufficient evidence has been provided to date for many of these uses, and further studies are necessary before any definitive answers can be provided for the efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil in the aforementioned treatments.
Today, Evening Primrose Oil is commonly used to treat a variety of skin disorders including acne, psoriasis, and eczema. It is also used in treatments designed to offer relief from rheumatoid arthritis and dyspraxia, a movement disorder that occurs in children. If any individual decides to include an Evening Primrose Oil supplement in their daily health regimen, they should first consult with their physician to ensure that it will not interact with any other medication they are currently taking.
Currently, Evening Primrose Oil is used in a variety of soaps and cosmetics. Evening Primrose Oil can be used to reduce the inflammation that occurs with either acne or rosacea. The results of some recent studies have suggested that new occurrences of rosacea and/or acne are somewhat minimized with regular use of Evening Primrose Oil supplemental formulas. Evening Primrose Oil provides relief from the unpleasant itching of eczema and atopic dermatitis, eliminating the need to obtain prescription-strength medications that may deliver unwanted side effects.