Friday, May 13, 2011

Why Evening Primrose Oil?

  • may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease (common in those with Down syndrome)
  • reduce inflammation
  • contains the pain relieving compound phenylalanine and is increasingly being used to treat chronic headaches
  • used to treat the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, menopause, and the soreness of the breasts that often accompanies menstruation
  • improve acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems

Essential fatty acids, such as those found in alpha linolenic acid (ALA), borage oil, and evening primrose oil, may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. Dietary changes include eating fewer animal fats and more fish will also help.
There is evidence that reducing inflammation reduces symptoms and can even prevent the damage from Alzheimer's Disease to brain cells. Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is a natural way to reduce inflammation. EPO contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is an essential fatty acid. Normally, we think of fish oils for providing fatty acids, but EPO is a good source of an omega-6 fatty acid, as opposed to the omega-3 in fish oil, and offers anti-inflammatory properties as effective as Ibuprofen, but without the negative side effects of stomach upset, ulcers, and the like.
The GLA found in EPO is highly concentrated. Although not the highest of all supplements, it is the most effective. Researchers are not sure why EPO is more effective even at lower concentrations, but have the evidence that it reduces inflammation better. The concentration of GLA in EPO is between 7% and 10%, where some other supplements such as borage oil have as much as 20% GLA.
GLA produces prostaglandins which are considered to be anti-inflammatory in nature. Most people associate EPO with helping with female problems such as PMS, edometriosis, and fibrocystic breasts. This is also due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
In the prevention of Alzheimer's disease, EPO works by improving nerve impulse transmissions and reducing inflammation. In a therapeutic dose, 1,300 mg of EPO should be taken twice a day. This can be in oil, capsule or soft gel form. Substitutes that may be a little less expensive but still provide enough GLA concentration can be found in borage oil or black currant oil. To equal the amount of GLA from EPO, you would need to take 1000 mg of borage oil or 1,500 mg of black currant oil daily. All should be taken with food to help with absorption.
The only really known side effect of EPO is related to those who take phenothiazine epileptogenic drugs for schizophrenia. Other than that, EPO is not believed to have any negative side effects and is valuable in reducing inflammation and preventing Alzheimer's disease.
Evening Primrose oil that you obtain from a health food store is made from the seeds of a wild flower known as the Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis). It is grown in North America and Europe primarily and the root was once used extensively by Native Americans for numerous conditions. Modern research has led to the discovery of the power of GLA and omega-6 fatty acid as a way to prevent Alzheimer's disease.

Not all EPO is manufactured the same way. Some contain additives of safflower or soy oils that do nothing to help with inflammation, but are being passed off as pure EPO. Be sure you are shopping at a reputable supplement supplier, and know the manufacturer’s reputation.

Evening Primrose Oil contains the pain relieving compound phenylalanine and is increasingly being used to treat chronic headaches. It is currently being studied all over the world as a treatment for aging problems, alcoholism, acne, heart disease, hyperactivity in children, symptoms of menopause, multiple sclerosis, weight control, obesity, PMS and schizophrenia. 

Evening Primrose Oil contains a high concentration of a fatty acid called GLA and it is this fatty acid that is largely responsible for the remarkable healing properties of the plant. In fact, Evening Primrose contains one of the highest concentrations known of this important substance and only a few other plants contain it at all.  

The gamma-linoleic acid, linoleic acid and other nutrients in this oil are essential for cell structure and improve the elasticity of the skin. These fatty acids also help to regulate hormones and improve nerve function aiding problems ranging from PMS to migraine headaches. The hormone balancing effect contributes to healthy breast tissue.

The oil of evening primrose is very rich in polysaturated comega-6 fatty acids, which are necessary fatty acids that body needs to complete numerous functions including insulin absorption, regulating the heart, and regulating mood. The body does not manufacture these fatty acids on its own, so they have to be taken as food or food supplements. Aside from the omega-6 fatty acids, evening primrose oil has linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (“GLA”). Both of these acids are very important and very beneficial to general well-being. Linoleic acid is thought to help the body make use of insulin, regulate weight, and prevent cancer and heart disease. GLA is thought to reduce swelling or irritation. Because of the high GLA content of evening primrose, it is recommended to help treat inflammatory ailments like asthma or arthritis. Research also indicates that evening primrose could benefit sufferers of chronic fatigue syndrome, but little is understood about chronic fatigue syndrome and further studies are needed.

Evening primrose oil can be taken both internally and externally. It has been known to improve acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin problems. Evening primrose oil is also used in many lotions and creams since it has emollient properties that hydrate and soften the skin. 

For products, see the DS Day to Day amazon Store.

Nature's Answer Liquid Evening Primrose Oil -- 4 fl oz

If you order from vitacost, be sure to
get $10 off your first.
Dosage Recommendations

Evening primrose oil has been administered orally in clinical trials at doses between 6 and 8 g/day in adults and 2 and 4 g/day in children. 2 , 3 , 4 The typical content of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the oil is 8% to 10%. 5
Doses of evening primrose oil, when taken medicinally, should always include some form of antioxidant, like vitamin E, to ensure the unsaturated fatty acids don’t oxidize. Evening Primrose Oil and cod-liver oil work together well. 

shares her concerns about EPO in the DS population in her blog post here:

Side effects

Upset stomach, nausea, soft stools, or headache may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly. A very serious allergic reaction to this product is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Drug Interactions

primrose oil should not be used with anticonvulsants because it may lower the seizure threshold.
Before using this product, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: medications/herbal products that may increase your risk of bleeding (e.g., "blood thinners" such as warfarin and heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, herbals such as danshen/garlic/ginger). Aspirin may also increase the risk of bleeding when used with this product. If your doctor has directed you to take low-dose aspirin for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually at dosages of 81-325 milligrams a day), you should continue taking it unless your doctor instructs you otherwise. Consult your doctor for more information.This product may interfere with certain laboratory tests (bleeding time, cholesterol) 


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Kris said...

I ran out of EPO and went to order more - saw it touted as great for womens' problems and couldn't remember why I was giving it to my son. I went straight to your site and looked up this page. Thanks as usually for the super detailed information. Definitely my first go-to resource.

Shanaya said...

A very good and informative article indeed. It helps me a lot to enhance my knowledge, I really like this..