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Evening primrose oil is a type of supplement that’s been claimed to have numerous healing properties. Some people may be tempted to add it to their daily diet – what are the benefits?
The evening primrose is a type of plant that’s usually found in both North and South America, characterised by its bright yellow petals.
For centuries, the plant has been used as a herbal remedy to treat skin conditions and wounds.
Since then, it’s been claimed to work as a treatment for eczema, premenstrual syndrome, withdrawal flomax and even sore throats.
The oil itself is made from the seeds of the evening primrose flower.
Its health benefits are believed to be linked to its high omega-6 fatty acid content.
Evening primrose oil contains a specific type of omega 6, known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is usually found in a number of plant oils.
Without enough GLA in your diet, you’re more at risk of developing some common skin conditions or allergic reactions, according to Jenny Logan, nutritionist at Wild Earth – experts in eco-friendly vitamins and supplements.
People that eat a typical Western diet are more likely to be deficient in GLA.
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“Evening primrose oil is a rich source of the omega-6 fatty acid GLA,” Logan told Express Health.
“Whilst our diets do tend to contain omega-6 fats, we do not get a lot of GLA in a typical Western diet.
“This lack of GLA has been linked to an increased risk of skin conditions, allergic reactions, and inflammation. Research has indicated that increasing GLA intake can help to reduce inflammation and support skin health.
“Evening Primrose has also long been suggested to women suffering with PMS and menopausal issues.”
Taking evening primrose oil supplements during menopause has been claimed to relieve breast pain and tenderness, she added.
Some patients have claimed that the supplements could be helpful for treating hot flushes, although more evidence is needed to confirm it.
Evening primrose oil’s GLA has also been claimed to reduce inflammation in the skin, and help the skin to retain moisture.
The added moisture creates a protective layer on the skin, which can help to get rid of acne.
The supplement itself is generally well tolerated, said Logan.
Some people may develop an allergic reaction to evening primrose oil, however, while others could get an upset stomach.
If you have epilepsy, you should avoid taking evening primrose oil supplements, as it could increase the risk of seizures.
If you’re pregnant, you should talk to a doctor before adding the supplements to your diet.
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