What is Evening Primrose Oil?
The Evening Primrose is a plant of the willow family whose flowers open in the evening. The plant flowers from June to mid August and is indigenous to North America. It grows wild in Britain around estuaries and sand-dunes.
What is so Special About It?
The active ingredient in Evening Primrose Oil is an Essential Fatty Acid called Gamma Linolenic Acid(GLA). Essential Fatty Acids are vital for the proper functioning of the body, but cannot be manufactured by it. They are therefore obtained solely through diet. Fatty acids are found in every cell in the body. The key Essential Fatty Acid is cis-Linoleic Acid. It is used either as a source of energy, for tissue formation and repair or (most importantly), it is converted to GLA as a precursor to prostaglandins.
Sources of GLA
We normally obtain GLA from our diet through eating dairy products, vegetable oils and products like soya which contain Linolenic Acid. This is broken down into GLA. Corn oil contains GLA, but due to its particular molecular structure, it cannot be utilised in the same way as Evening Primrose Oil. Safflower and Sunflower oils contain Linolenic Acid, but not GLA.
The only other source of importance is human breast milk. However, once children who are breast fed from the neo natal stage are weaned, they often develop eczematous skin conditions. This is because their body is not able to convert from Linolenic Acid to GLA.
The Metabolic Pathway of Essential Fats
Linolenic Acid -> Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) -> Dinomogammalinolenic Acid (DGLA) -> Prostaglandins.
Prostaglandins are required for metabolic functions of the body. They act by reducing inflammation, dilating blood vessels, reducing the tendency of the blood to clot, and are also involved in the production of cholesterol. They are constantly being depleted and require continual replacement.
When is Evening Primrose Oil Needed as a Supplement?
Some people seem to have an inability of convert Essential Fatty Acids to GLA as successfully as others. Certain factors can also block the conversion process such as:
- Too much saturated fat in the diet
- High levels of cholesterol
- Excess alcohol
- Atopy (an inherited susceptibility of certain diseases)
When the conversion process of Fatty Acids to GLA does not occur, prostaglandins are not produces. One of several medical conditions may then occur. Supplementing the diet with EPO provides the body directly with biologically active GLA and ensures a supply of cis-Linolenic acid.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – Evening Primrose Oil inhibits inflammation, activates the immune system and blocks the release of damaging enzymes which cause pain and inflammation.
A trial* carried out in Glasgow using a combination of EOP and fish oil on 52 arthritis sufferers was highly successful. 50% of the patients were able to stop their anti-inflammatory drugs altogether and 50% were able to reduce their dosage.
Eczema – It seems that patients with eczema have an inability to convert Linolenic Acid to GLA because of a faulty immune system. A clinical study carried out at Bristol Royal Infirmary on 50 adults and 39 children had a high success rate. The patients were given high doses of EPO capsules every day for 12 weeks. Generally the patients improved over the three month trial period and the symptom showing most relief was itchiness. This helped in containing the skin condition as scratching can spread the infection. DGLA levels were tested at the start and conclusion of the trial and in 80 of the 89 patients, levels were raised after three months, indicating that conversion of GLA to prostaglandins had occurred.
Pre-menstrual syndrome – a condition affecting 40% of women in the UK to a greater of less extent. Women suffering from PMS seem to be lacking in Essential Fatty Acids. This deficiency leads to an overproduction of the hormone prolactin, which can lead to mood changes. Clinical trials* have rated positively against similar trials using hormone treatment. It was most effective in the treatment of depression and mood changes, water retention and breast discomfort.
EPO is also prescribed as an effective treatment for mastalgia.
Evening Primrose Oil can be used in a dietary approach to the treatment of a number of medical conditions. It should be taken for at least 3 months on an initial trial basis.
http://www.GoodnessDirect.co.uk have a choice of products you can choose from: Efamol Pure Evening Primrose Oil 500mg 90 Capsules, Natures Aid Oil of Evening Primrose 1000mg 90 capsules or Quest Evening Primrose Gammaoil 1000mg 30 capsules
* Trial reported by Britannia Ltd.