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Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose is an attractive herb that grows in mild climates. It is cultivated and processed primarily in Canada and the United States. Evening primrose plants may grow anywhere from 3 to 7 feet in height. A unique characteristic of the evening primrose plant is that it will bloom throughout the summer, but its flowers each last only one day, opening as the sun goes down and then dying away in sunlight (hence its name, evening primrose). The seeds of the evening primrose are used to produce the volatile oil that is used in medicines and cosmetics.

Evening primrose oil contains substantial amounts of polysaturated omega-6 fatty acids, essential fatty acids (EFAs) which are needed by the body to regulate a number of activities including insulin utilisation, heart function, and mood. Since the body does not produce EFAs, they must be ingested through proper diet or supplementation. In addition to omega-6 fatty acids, evening primrose oil contains linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Both linoleic acid and GLA are believed to have very positive health and medicinal indications. Linoleic acid may affect how the body utilises insulin, maintains weight, and fights cancer and heart disease. GLA may help to inhibit the body's production of chemicals that cause inflammation. Consequently, evening primrose oil has been used in connection with inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Some studies have also suggested that evening primrose oil may be useful in helping chronic fatigue syndrome, but more research is needed before evening primrose oil can be recommended for that condition.

Evening primrose oil may help support relief from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), symptoms of menopause, and breast pain due to hormonal changes during menstruation. Supplementary GLA, such as is supplied by evening primrose oil, may help relieve some PMS symptoms.

Oral and topical forms of evening primrose oil have been studied for treating acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. When used as a topical application, evening primrose oil has moisturising and softening effects.

Additional research indicates that individuals suffering from diabetes, scleroderma, Sjorgen's syndrome, and tardive dyskinesia may be deficient in GLA. In preliminary studies, supplementation with evening primrose aided individuals with these conditions.

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