Evening primrose – the plant
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) originates from North America and gets its name from the large, yellow, tubular flowers that only open in the evening. Evening primrose produces an abundance of tiny seeds, up to 150,000 seeds per plant, and this is the source of Evening primrose oil. The seed contains 25% oil; around 8-14% of this is GLA, while the rest, around 60-80% is the essential fatty acid (EFA) linolenic acid (LA). A good quality Evening primrose oil will be free of genetically modified organisms (non-GMO) and be cold-pressed to avoid damaging the delicate oil with heat.
Health benefits of Evening primrose oil
GLA is the main active compound found in Evening primrose oil and is an important precursor for anti-inflammatory chemical mediators known as prostaglandins, particularly PGE1, and leukotrienes. This anti-inflammatory activity is unique to Evening primrose oil and clearly distinguishes it from other non-GLA omega-6 oils. This gives Evening primrose oil a range of health giving benefits that:
- May assist in the temporary relief of mild arthritic and mild rheumatic pain
- May assist in the relief of mild eczema and mild dermatitis
- May help relieve menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes
- Helps relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Helps maintain healthy capillaries in healthy individuals
- May help maintain peripheral blood flow to the hands, feet and legs and relieve cold hands and feet in healthy individuals
- Plays a role in the structure of cell membranes, helping to maintain their fluidity and flexibility and, therefore, assists in the maintenance of normal healthy skin. See more here: Evening Primrose Oil 1000
GLA deficiency states
A primary GLA deficiency typically occurs due to lack of dietary intake, while a secondary deficiency may be generated by faulty EFA metabolism, leading to a subsequent GLA deficiency. Mild eczema and mild dermatitis, both considered mild inflammatory skin conditions, may be aggravated by an imbalance between the ratio of omega-6 FA’s and omega-3 FA’s, and a relative GLA deficiency. Even though our western diet contains high levels of omega-6 FA’s compared to omega-3 FA’s, dietary and lifestyle factors including ageing, chronic health conditions, digestive disturbances, high alcohol consumption, smoking, stress and a diet high in saturated and trans-fatty acids can inhibit the activity of LA, leading to a GLA deficiency. Omega-6 fatty acids are involved in maintaining the barrier function of the skin, and LA and GLA are capable of this, but not other FA’s.