Many of you may be familiar with the benefits of Evening Primrose Oil. For many years now, the seed oil of the Evening Primrose plant has been researched, studied and touted for it’s GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) content, which is a precursor of EFA’s (essential fatty acids). Most of the findings of the more than 100 studies published so far show positive results for a broad range of actions from arthritis, skin issues, and premenstrual syndrome, to a variety of inflammatory problems, cardiovascular disease, and immuno-depression.
However, what you may not know about Evening Primrose, is that the entire plant, not just the oil, is used medicinally. Native to North America, this plant has many traditional uses that go far beyond the seed oil.
According to Kiva Rose, a Southwest Herbalist, Evening Primrose has been historically used in bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, whooping cough and similar lung ailments. It is an expectorant and very soothing to the lungs and respiratory system.
Used by traditional peoples extensively for a variety of issues from snakebite, spider bites and insect bites, to swelling, bruising and other itchy skin disorders, Evening Primrose is an excellent vulnerary. The leaves used as a poultice have even been used successfully for burns and eczema.
Studies have confirmed the abilities of the Oil of Evening Primrose to reduce hot flash frequency, severity and duration in menopausal women. However, in addition to that, the Evening Primrose plant also excels in the ability to soothe uterine and ovarian cramping. Herbalist, Kiva Rose, notes, “It is wonderful for chronic reproductive inflammation and pelvic congestion, especially when used long term.” According to Herbalpedia, A 1981 clinical study at the St. Thomas Hospital in London gave evening primrose oil to 65 women with premenstrual syndrome and 61% of the participants found their symptoms completely disappeared and another 23% felt partial relief.
Many Herbalists use Evening Primrose for digestive complaints, especially when there is an anxiety or depression related component. Herbalist, David Winston says, “This is one of the best herbs for GI-related depression.” Similarly, Herbalist, Matthew Wood, notes, “Evening Primrose vitalizes the stomach, stimulates the digestion and strengthens the nerve reflexes pertaining to the liver and spleen.”? In addition, Kiva Rose suggests that Evening Primrose is great for food based anxiety in those recovering from eating disorders.
Various studies have proven the value of Evening Primrose in benefiting inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and joint disorders. Furthermore, in 1987, the Glasgow Royal Infirmary of Scotland saw improvement in 60% of its rheumatoid arthritis patients who took a combination of evening primrose and fish oil instead of their regular drugs.
As you can see, while the oil of Evening Primrose has a multitude of medicinal uses, the herb itself is an amazingly useful and beneficial remedy in its own right.