Generic Name: Evening Primrose Oil


What is evening primrose oil used for?

Evening primrose oil is the oil from the seed of the evening primrose plant.

Evening primrose oil is used for:

  • Skin disorders such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Weak bones (osteoporosis)
  • Raynaud’s syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Cancer
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Dyspraxia
  • Leg pain due to blocked blood vessels (intermittent claudication)
  • Alcoholism
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Schizophrenia

Some people use evening primrose oil for:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Asthma
  • Nerve damage related to diabetes
  • Neurodermatitis
  • Hyperactivity in children and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Obesity and weight loss
  • Whooping cough
  • Gastrointestinal disorders including ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and peptic ulcer disease

Women use evening primrose oil in pregnancy for:

  • Preventing high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
  • Shortening labor
  • Starting labor
  • Preventing late deliveries

Women also use evening primrose oil for:

In foods, evening primrose oil is used as a dietary source of essential fatty acids.

In manufacturing, evening primrose oil is used in soaps and cosmetics.

How does it work?

There are not enough studies about how this herbal supplement works. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for more information. However, it is known that evening primrose oil contains “fatty acids.” Some women with breast pain might not have high enough levels of certain ”fatty acids.” Fatty acids also seem to help decrease inflammation related to conditions such as arthritis and eczema.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using evening primrose oil?

Consult with your doctor or pharmacist or herbalist, if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription.
  • You have allergy with any substances of evening primrose oil or other medications or other herbals.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.
  • You have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

The regulations for an herbal supplement are less strict than the regulations for a drug. More studies are needed to determine its safety. The benefits of taking this herbal supplement must outweigh the risks before use. Consult with your herbalist or doctor for more information.

How safe is evening primrose oil?

Evening primrose oil is likely safe for most people when used for up to a year.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking evening primrose oil is POSSIBLY UNSAFE during pregnancy. It might increase the chance of having complications. Don’t use it if you are pregnant.

It is possibly safe to take evening primrose oil during breast-feeding, but it’s best to check with your healthcare provider first.

Bleeding disorders: There is a concern that evening primrose oil might increase the chance of bruising and bleeding. Don’t use it if you have a bleeding disorder.

Epilepsy or another seizure disorder: There is a concern that taking evening primrose oil might make seizures more likely in some people. If you have a history of seizure, avoid using it.

Schizophrenia: Seizures have been reported in people with schizophrenia treated with phenothiazine drugs, GLA (a chemical found in evening primrose oil), and vitamin E. Get your healthcare provider’s opinion before starting evening primrose oil.

Surgery: Evening primrose oil might increase the chance of bleeding during or after surgery. Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Side effects

What kind of side effects may I have from evening primrose oil?

It can sometimes cause mild side effects including:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about side effects, please consult your herbalist or doctor.


What interactions may I have with evening primrose oil?

Evening primrose oil may interact with your current medications or medical conditions. Consult with your herbalist or doctor before using.

Products may interact with evening primrose oil include:

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Evening primrose oil might slow blood clotting. Taking evening primrose oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Evening primrose oil contains GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). GLA is the part of evening primrose oil that might slow blood clotting.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Medications used during surgery (Anesthesia)

Evening primrose oil might interact with medications used during surgery. One person who was taking evening primrose oil and other medications had a seizure during surgery. But there isn’t enough information to know if evening primrose oil or the other medications caused the seizure. Be sure to tell your doctor what natural products you are taking before having surgery. To be on the safe side, you should stop taking evening primrose oil at least 2 weeks before surgery.

  • Phenothiazines

Taking evening primrose oil with phenothiazines might increase the risk of having a seizure in some people.

Some phenothiazines include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), and others.


The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your herbalist or doctor before using this medication.

What is the usual dose for evening primrose oil?

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


For breast pain: 3-4 grams daily.

The dose for this herbal supplement may be different for every patient. The dose that you take depends on your age, health, and several other conditions. Herbal supplements are not always safe. Please discuss with your herbalist or doctor for your appropriate dosage.

What form does evening primrose oil come in?

Evening primrose oil may be available in the following dosage forms: pure oil, dietary capsule

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: July 13, 2017 | Last Modified: July 13, 2017

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