The beautiful Evening Primrose is a yellow flower native to North and South America. Each bloom of this flower opens for one night only around dusk, and by morning the flower has withered away. This perennial is known not only as a low maintenance flower that attracts birds, but also as a natural healer.
Although the oil extracted from the seeds has been used for various skin conditions for centuries, it’s only been since the 1970s that this plant has been studied for its healing properties. Some studies have suggested that Evening Primrose oil could be effective in the treatment of a variety of issues like PMS, arthritis, eczema and even cardiovascular disease.
Native Americans were known to use the entire plant as a food and a medicine. The roots could be boiled for food, and the entire plant could be applied topically for skin conditions and swelling. Early American settlers learned from the Natives the benefits of Evening Primrose, specifically, the Shakers who even used it as a tea. From this, we get early American medical literature and recipes for making a tea concoction that could be mixed with lard to make a healing skin salve.
Today we know why the oil from the Evening Primrose seed contains a rare essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). This fatty acid is a powerful anti-inflammatory that also helps regulate metabolism. This compound found in Evening Primrose oil is essential to our diets since our bodies do not synthesize it on their own. The effects of adding Evening Primrose oil are similar to adding Omega-3 fish oils. Taking this supplement is considered safe since there have been very few documented side effects in modern medical literature. But with any plant, there is always a chance of an allergic reaction. And pregnant and nursing women should use caution and discuss this and all natural supplements with their physician first.