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Evening Primrose Oil and GLA: A Guide to Uses and Scientific Evidence

What is Evening Primrose Oil and GLA?

Evening Primrose Oil is derived from the seeds of the Evening Primrose plant (Oenothera biennis). It is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (“GLA” for short), an essential omega-6 fatty acid, as well as linoleic acid and other nutrients.

Uses of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil is commonly used as a dietary supplement for various purposes, including:

  • Supporting skin health
  • Alleviating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Relieving symptoms of menopause
  • Managing eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions
  • Supporting heart health

Scientific Support for the Use of Evening Primrose Oil

Research suggests that Evening Primrose Oil may be beneficial for skin health due to its high content of GLA, which is a precursor to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins. GLA helps maintain the integrity of the skin barrier and may alleviate symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis[1].

In addition to its effects on skin health, Evening Primrose Oil has been studied for its potential benefits in managing symptoms of PMS and menopause. Some studies suggest that GLA may help regulate hormonal balance and reduce symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings associated with PMS[2]. Similarly, GLA may alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and mood changes[3].

Furthermore, Evening Primrose Oil may support heart health by reducing inflammation and improving blood vessel function. GLA and other fatty acids in Evening Primrose Oil may help lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases[4].

Evening Primrose Oil Health Concerns

While Evening Primrose Oil is generally considered safe for most people when taken at recommended dosages, there are some potential health concerns to consider. Some individuals may experience mild gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, indigestion, or diarrhea when taking Evening Primrose Oil supplements.

Additionally, Evening Primrose Oil may interact with certain medications, including blood-thinning medications and anticonvulsants. Individuals with bleeding disorders, epilepsy, or those taking medications should consult with a healthcare professional before using Evening Primrose Oil.

Recommended Standardization or Dosage

Evening Primrose Oil supplements should be standardized to contain a specific concentration of GLA, typically ranging from 8% to 10%. As for dosage, the recommended amount varies depending on the specific product and individual factors such as age, weight, and health status.

For general health maintenance, typical dosages of Evening Primrose Oil range from 500 mg to 1500 mg per day, divided into two or three doses, taken with meals. Higher dosages may be recommended for specific health conditions under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


  1. Bamford JT, Ray S, Musekiwa A, van Gool C, Humphreys R, Ernst E. Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema. *Cochrane Database Syst Rev*. 2013;4:CD004416. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004416.pub2
  2. Farzaneh F, Fatehi S, Sohrabi MR, Alizadeh K. The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. *Arch Gynecol Obstet*. 2013;288(5):1075-1079. doi:10.1007/s00404-013-2845-5
  3. Sohrabi N, Kashanian M, Ghafoori SS, Malakouti SK. Evaluation of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: “a pilot trial”. *Complement Ther Med*. 2013;21(3):141-146. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.01.003
  4. Das UN. Gamma-linolenic acid, arachidonic acid, and eicosapentaenoic acid as potential anti-cancer drugs. *Nutr Cancer*. 1993;20(1):1-12. doi:10.1080/01635589309514207


Evening Primrose Oil, with its high content of GLA, offers potential benefits for skin health, hormonal balance, and heart health. While research suggests promising effects, individuals should be aware of potential health concerns and consult with a healthcare professional before using Evening Primrose Oil supplements, especially if they have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.

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