Herbalists recommend the oil from the seeds of the plant known as evening primrose for a wide range of ailments that includes arthritis and premenstrual syndrome. Evening primrose supplements may also benefit brittle hair and fingernails, and may help to keep dry eyes lubricated. Native Americans and early settlers in North America used the oil to treat asthma, gastrointestinal ills and bruises.
The therapeutic component of evening primrose oil, known as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), is an essential fatty acid that the Western diet often lacks. GLA supports the body's production of hormones known as prostaglandins, which affect the body's hormone balance. When the body's supply of essential fatty acids such as GLA is deficient, the effects of premenstrual syndrome, diabetes and other disorders may become more pronounced.
Evening primrose oil may also be useful in treating sore breasts in nursing mothers, through its anti-inflammatory action. In addition, recent studies suggest that evening primrose oil may have an anti-clotting action. Some herbalists believe this may be helpful in treating coronary artery disease.
Available in capsules and in liquid form. Use as directed.