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Evening Primrose as an Herb

Evening Primrose as an Herb

Oenothera biennis

The generic name for Evening Primrose is derived from oinos (wine) and thera (a hunt), and is an old Greek name given by Theophrastus to some plant, probably an Epilobium, the roots of which were eaten to provoke a relish for wine, as olives are now. Others say it dispelled the effects of wine.

Evening primrose oil is obtained from the seeds of a common wildflower of the evening primrose family native to eastern North America and widely naturalized in Europe and western North America. Most of the seed for oil production is grown commercially. It is a good source of magnesium.

Medicinal Uses of Evening Primrose

The medicinal parts are the fatty oil extracted from the ripe seeds and the fresh plant gathered at the beginning of the flowering season. The flowers are fragrant and open in the evening.

Native Americans gathered the seeds for food in Utah and Nevada. Those in eastern North America used the whole plant as a poultice for bruises, a tea to treat obesity, and a decoction of the root to treat hemorrhoids. Early settlers used the leaves to treat wounds and to soothe sore throats and upset stomach. Use of the seed oil is relatively recent.

Evening Primrose oil is used for neurodermatitis, premenstrual syndrome and as a dietary aid. The herb is also used to treat hyperactivity in children, high cholesterol, menopausal hot flashes and mastalgia.

Evening primrose oil has been used as a dietary supplement to provide essential fatty acids. Dietary supplementation of GLA from evening primrose oil can help resolve problems associated with essential fatty acid deficiencies. Oil of Evening Primrose is popular for control of cholesterol.

More than 120 studies in fifteen countries report potential use of the seed oil. Its use treats imbalances and abnormalities of essential fatty acids. Ailments include the following.

Evening Primrose Seed Oil

  • Allergy-induced eczema.
  • Asthma.
  • Migraine.
  • Inflammations.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Diabetes.
  • Arthritis.
  • Alcoholism.

Also said to be a remedy for coughs from colds, and is a good source of magnesium.

Has been made into an ointment for rashes and other skin irritations.

Native Americans used the root tea for obesity and the poulticed root for bruises.

Root is currently being investigated for aid in the battle against multiple sclerosis.

Other Uses

Evening primrose is a terrific trap crop for Japanese Beetles. Place several inches of water in an old tin can or other suitable container then add a top layer of baby oil or mineral oil. Beetles can be knocked directly into the can and the oil will kill them. Or, beetles may be sprayed directly but do not consider using sprayed plants for herbal considerations.

For insects: A terrific trap crop for Japanese Beetles. Place several inches of water in an old tin can or other suitable container then add a top layer of baby oil or mineral oil. Beetles can be knocked directly into the can and the oil will kill them. Or, beetles may be sprayed directly but do not consider using sprayed plants for herbal considerations.

Culinary Uses of Evening Primrose

In Europe the roots are eaten like olives after dinner.

Cautions

No known contraindications or drug interactions have been reported for evening primrose oil.

There are case reports of seizures in schizophrenic patients that were being treated with Evening Primrose oil along with phenothiazine medications. Practitioners should be aware that Evening Primrose oil has a potential to lower the seizure threshold in patients with seizure disorders or those being treated with drugs that lower the seizure threshold.

In clinical studies, fewer than 2 percent of patients taking it for long periods reported side effects such as abdominal discomfort, nausea, and headache.

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