Natural Wellness, Beauty & Lifestyle |

Evening Primrose Oil

Potential Health Benefits of Evening Primrose for Hormonal Balance

Explore the potential health benefits of evening primrose as we delve into the advantages this natural remedy may offer for hormonal balance.

What is Evening Primrose Oil (EPO)?

The evening primrose plant is a widespread species in Europe and North America, and it has been employed for medicinal purposes for many years. Native Americans have traditionally utilised the plant's leaves, roots, and seed pods to produce remedies for skin conditions, bruises, and wounds.

In this article, discover the benefits and effects of evening primrose oil supplementation.

What does evening primrose oil do in the body?

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a commonly used supplement due to its high concentration of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that is not readily available from other natural sources. EPO is also a rich source of vitamin E[i].

Prostaglandins are a group of compounds with varying hormone-like effects. GLA is used by the body to produce a specific prostaglandin that plays a crucial role in regulating the nervous, cardiovascular, and reproductive systems, as well as maintaining healthy skin and other bodily functions.

Although the body can synthesise GLA from Linoleic Acid found in vegetable oils, this process can sometimes be slow, hindered and inefficient, making supplemental sources of GLA highly beneficial.

Clinical studies have shown that GLA supplements can be effective in many health issues related to the female reproductive system as well as many other non-reproductive ailments, such as skin complaints.

This supplemental oil is popular among

Those experiencing menstrual discomfort or discomfort related to hormonal changes (such as severe menstrual pain and cyclical breast pain[ii])

Women in the menopausal phase

People wanting to improve or maintain healthy skin

How does evening primrose oil function in the body?

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is known to calm inflammation. Inflammation is the natural response of your body to things that harm it, such as infections, injuries, and toxins, in an attempt to heal itself. In animal studies, EPO was seen to reduce inflammation in the body, which could explain why women have seen improvements in symptoms such as menstrual pain and problem skin[iii].

Many health issues in women like acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause may arise from hormonal imbalances. Holistic health practitioners suggest that evening primrose oil may help alleviate some of these conditions. However, the holistic health approach does not advocate for a quick fix. Instead, it views the body as a whole and aims to identify and address the root cause of any health issue. Nonetheless, evening primrose oil may assist in the natural healing process.

Menstrual discomfort

The major clinical studies are focused on breast pain triggered by PMS[iv]. Some women report PMS symptoms being eased by evening primrose oil. These symptoms include breast tenderness, feelings of depression, irritability and swelling and bloating from fluid retention. Research suggests that EPO is highly effective in treating these premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms[v].

In the body, GLA interferes with the production of inflammatory prostaglandins released during menstruation and so can offer some relief from menstrual cramps, as well as bloating, headaches and breast tenderness[vi].


Evening primrose oil can help to reduce hot flashes in menopausal and pre-menopausal women[vii]. This is thought to be in its action of being an oestrogen agonist[viii]. An oestrogen agonist is a substance that activates or stimulates the oestrogen receptor in cells, leading to oestrogen-like effects. Oestrogen agonists can be natural or synthetic compounds that mimic the action of oestrogen in the body.

Contributes to the maintenance of healthy skin

EPO is said to improve skin barrier function. The GLA in EPO may improve the skin’s epidermis, the outermost layer of skin on your body[ix]. This may be the mechanism by which EPO may be beneficial for conditions such as eczema, dermatitis, acne and other irritations of the skin[x]. It may also help the skin retain moisture, thus generally improving elasticity, firmness and texture.

Hormonal skin may also be improved with the use of EPO, due to the potential regulatory effects on female reproductive hormones. Researchers have discovered that the intake of GLA supplements resulted in a decrease in the number of both inflammatory and noninflammatory acne lesions.[xi]


Nerve pain in diabetics has been treated with evening primrose oil when conventional treatments have been unsuitable[xii].

Heart health

According to a 2014 study on rats, EPO is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce blood cholesterol. Most people with heart disease have inflammation in the body[xiii].

Other benefits

Due to its actions in calming inflammation in the body, EPO has also been seen to benefit those with[xiv]:

Gestational diabetes (diabetes in pregnancy)

Kidney problems

Rheumatoid arthritis

Precautions and potential interactions

Evening primrose oil likely interacts with anti-platelet and anticoagulant drugs, but there are no scientific reports on it[xv]. If you are concerned about its interactions with medications, please consult with your doctor prior to using evening primrose oil supplements.

Image Credit Ellie Burgin

Recommended For

Menopause , Skin Support , Dry Skin , Acne , Eczema , Hyperkeratosis

Explore products containing Evening Primrose Oil

See More Ingredients

See more Ingredients

Latest Blogs