Copyright © 1990 - 2016 by Robert Dale Rogers. All rights reserved.
No portion of this book, except for a brief review, may be reproduced, or copied and transmitted, without permission of author. This book is for educational purposes only. The suggestions, recipes and historical information are not meant to replace a medical advisor. The author assumes no liability for unwise or unsafe usage by readers of this book.
YELLOW EVENING PRIMROSE
(Oenothera biennis L.)
WHITE EVENING PRIMROSE
(O. nuttallii Sweet.)
RED EVENING PRIMROSE
(O. erythosepala Borbas.)
FRAGRANT EVENING PRIMROSE
BUTTE EVENING PRIMROSE
GUMBO EVENING PRIMROSE
(O. caespitosa Nutt.)
(Pachylophis caespitosa [Nutt.] Raim.)
(O. flava [A. Nels.] Garrett)
SHRUBBY EVENING PRIMROSE
PLAINS EVENING PRIMROSE
(O. serrulata Nutt.)
(Calylophus serrulatus [Nutt.] Raven)
PARTS USED- leaf, root, flower, seeds
The evening primrose opes anew Its delicate blossoms to the dew;
And, hermit-like, shunning the light,
Wastes its fair bloom upon the Night
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more
painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Evening Primrose seeds itself to distraction,
but the large pale-yellow flowers,
which open at night,
also add delicious perfume to the evening…
A tuft of evening primroses o’er which the mind may hover till it dozes.
Yellow Evening Primrose flower
Oenothera is from the Greek OINOS for wine, and THERA meaning, odour, pursuing or imbibing; in reference to either the dried root odour resembling wine, or the belief that roots increased capacity for drinking wine. The roots were infused in wine, to tame wild animals.
Oenanthe was an ancient Greek perfume produced from vine leaves on Cyprus. Pliny listed it as a royal unguent for the Kings of Parthia.
Caespitosa means tufted or clumped, and refers to the low growing habit of the plant. Erythrosepala is from Greek meaning red-sepal; biennis means biennial.
Yellow Evening Primrose is found throughout the central and southern prairies. As evening approaches, the yellow flowers unfurl and release a scent attractive to the night flying sphinx moth.
Well, the flowers do not so much unfurl, but if you listen carefully, the buds sound like popping soap bubbles bursting.
Even still, it has been estimated that at least half of the self-pollinated seeds die in the ovary from accumulated defects. The fruit contains hundreds of healthy seeds to ensure survival.
Its magical powers were recognized and used by Native people, with the plant rubbed against their bodies to ensure good hunting, and protection against snakes.
The Blackfoot dried and used the carrot-like pale pink biennial roots of yellow evening primrose for winter food. The young roots are particularly tasty, with a peppery, nutty flavour sort of like Radish. They also boiled the fresh leaves and stems as a potherb.
The seedpods are edible when young, and when dry can be pulled down along the stem to give a string fibre.
The Cherokee used the same root infusions for obesity—something just being recognized in the scientific community. They also used the poultice of heated root for hemorrhoid therapy.
Natives of New Mexico use decoctions of the dried or fresh flowers for kidney trouble.
The Iroquois also recognized its benefits in treating piles as well as boils and laziness. They chewed the roots and rubbed them onto athlete’s muscles to improve strength.
The Potawatomi tribe used the seeds of OWESA’WANAKUK, or Yellow Top, medicinally in an unspecified manner.
The Algonquin mashed the seeds as a poultice for skin rashes, and thewomen used this paste to maintain smooth, youthful skin.
The Crow simmered the flowers until water is all gone and after removing the flowers, used the oil for skin problems.
During wartime, the seeds were roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
The finely ground flowers are used in facemasks for red, irritated skin, as well as poultices for slight rheumatic pain.
While Yellow Evening-Primrose is a night blooming biennial, the
other three are all day blooming perennials. Two to five yellow flowers open at dusk and wilt the following morning, to be replaced by others. The flowers have a strong lemony scent to attract moths. At regular intervals, the flowers emit small puffs of scented warm breath.
If you take the time to watch the flowers open, you will notice the petals are held together by hooks at the end of the flower cup and the segments separate first at the lower part so that the corolla can be seen for a while. When unhooked, the corolla opens instantaneously and then halts as it takes time to spread out flat, all in about half an hour. Sometimes, you will see flowers open on a cloudy, overcast day.
Butte and White Evening-Primrose have scented flowers that open white in the morning and turn pink as the day progresses. Yellow Lavauxia starts out the day with yellow flowers that turn pink each evening.
Butte or Fragrant Evening Primrose, when it opens, smells like the most exquisite perfume; a mixture of tuberose, jasmine and lemon would be one description.
The Blackfeet used the roots of Butte Primrose, or Alkali Lily, to reduce inflammation by pounding and applying a poultice to the affected area. Their names for the plant AP AKS IBOKN translates roughly as “wide leaves”, or OSK PI POKU meaning, Sticky Root.
The Navaho used the ground plant poultices for strengthening a prolapsed uterus. A dusting powder from the flowers was used to relieve chaffing.
They also used the plant in the Bead Way, Big Star Way, Red Ant Way and Blessed Way ceremonies.
Yellow Lavauxia was utilized by Navaho. The ash of seedpods was smeared on burns, while a root poultice was used for large swellings, and as a “life medicine”. The whole plant was used in a combination for throat troubles.
When moved, in 1612 to Europe, yellow evening primrose was soon after used medicinally for calming nerves, and made into a mild sedative by infusing the flowers. The whole plant was used with spasmodic asthma and whooping cough, and was called the King’s Cure-All.
In France and Germany, the first year roots are served in stews or raw in salads with flavour reminiscent of parsnips or salsify. They can be irritating to the throat when eaten alone.
In France, where it is cultivated, it is known as Gardener’s Ham (Jambon du jardinier), due to the resemblance of flavour. To the north, it is known as German Rampion.
An old legend suggested that two pounds of root would bring as much strength as 20 pounds of beef, suggesting a revitalizing effect after illness or surgery.
The red seeds can be sprinkled on baked goods or salads like poppy seed. These seeds retain their energy for up to 80 years when buried in soil, waiting for their exposure to light and a chance to germinate.
Many plants in this genus emit “phosphoresence”, or luminescence from their petals at night. This is due to the storing of sunlight during the day and releasing at night. The delicately, fragrant blooms of yellow evening primrose are short-lived (often one night), and open to invite pollinating, twilight insects. Towards fall, the flowers stay open all day long.
Butte Evening Primrose (O. caespitosa) is a low growing, gray green plant with papery blooms on short stems. The flower buds open an hour or two before sunset and smell very similar to magnolia, or jasmine and lemon.
Red Evening Primrose is a native perennial of North America hardy to zone 3. It has red sepals and is often grown in gardens for its beauty. It is very frost and drought resistant. Both Red and Yellow Evening Primrose flowers have an unusual, not unpleasant amine-like odour, due mainly to the methyl ester mentioned below. Red Evening Primrose has a lemon and lily scent.
Red Evening Primrose symbolizes inconstancy, and birth date of March 30.
As a biennial, expect O. biennis seed production in the second year. The Alberta Research Council in Vegreville views it as a good native seed crop for reclamation work and erosion control. In Eastern Canada, the plants are started in greenhouses and transplanted to fields to be grown as an annual.
In many respects, borage seed is a better GLA source for the prairies commercially, but there is renewed interest in evening primrose, especially if annual varieties can be developed for the short growing season of the prairies.
The seeds are small (3.1-3.5 million per kilogram), and are planted at a rate of 150 seeds per linear metre in a row. The seeds are hardy, some have been found viable after 80 years in the soil.
Annual world production is about 4000 tonnes, with Canadians contributing less than 200. Over two tonnes per hectare have been recorded in Nova Scotia, but this is on the high side, 600 lbs per acre being the average.
A Farming for the Future Project conducted in 1997 by Mike Clawson et al, looked at Evening Primrose production under irrigation in southern Alberta. Their work found that due to the longer growing season, the seed set in first year, and under proper management may happen four years out of five. Seed yields varied from 29.6 to 41.4 pounds per acre.
CONSTITUENTS- O. biennis plant- oenotherin, potassium nitrate, resins, and various bitter principles. The leaves contain kaempferol, quercitin, and various gycosides, neochlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, delphindin, digallic acid, ellagic acid, and gallic acid; as well as 24-methylene cycloartenol.
The leaves, stems and buds contain 24-27% protein, 4.3% fat.
Roots contain mucilage, tannins, sugars, gallic acid, oenotheralanosterol A & B.
October roots contain 21% protein, the May roots only 11.5%.
seed- fatty oils (see below), as well as various amino acids, including tryptophan 1.6%, glutamic acid 2.8%, histidine 0.39%, aspartic acid 1.2%, and traces of boron.
O. caespitosa- flowers- 0.1% gallic acid
O. erythrosepala- oenothein B.
Flowers- The flowers of Oenothera species contain an alkaloid, oxindole-3-acetic acid methylester.
Gallic and vanillic acids predominate in the seeds, while caffeic and ferulic acids are more common in the plants.
The fresh or dried root has soothing and anti-spasmodic action; good for coughs, asthma as well as skeletal arthritis and muscle pain in the reproductive organs.
Singh R et al, J Ethnopharm 141:1 357-62 identified anti-inflammatory activity in roots. Oenotheralanosterol A and B, as well as gallic acid all inhibited TNF alpha and IL-6 related to inflammation.
The tops can also be used for making cough syrups, but are somewhat milder in their anti-spasmodic and sedative effect.
The dry leaves contain up to 20% of aldose reductase inhibitors, compounds that play a role in the reduction of diabetic cataracts, and support eye health.
The leaves and flowers have a somewhat diuretic function that relieves kidney spasm, and sharp pain in the bladder and urethra. There is mild stimulation of the vagus nerve, somewhat validating an old treatment for underactive digestive and liver problems in seniors. Both the root and herb are mildly sedative, helping relieve nervous tension throughout the body.
Leaf tinctures are sedative and used for uterine and ovarian cramps, pelvic congestion as well as inflammation of GI tract.
Dr. Bastyr used the leaf and stem tincture, in 15 drop doses, for nervous, irritable patients, and general respiratory support by mildly sedating the cough reflex centre. The terpene, 24-methylene cycloartenol is a proven anti-nociceptive.
Eclectic physicians suggested leaf, root and flower tinctures for apathy, gloom and depression associated with dyspepsia, vomiting and frequent desire to urinate.
The flowers can be crushed in hot water, spread on a cheesecloth, and placed on the throat and chest to ease discomfort. The leaves; either freshly bruised, or as a fomentation, can bring great relief to external skin ulcers. Or simply chew a leaf and apply as poultice to swellings, bruises, insect bites, etc.
Dr. Scudder suggested that various digestive disorders from heartburn to hepatic congestion were eased.
Glandular enlargement of the spleen, and destructive inflammation of Peyer’s patches (digestive lymphatic nodes) are cleansed by the tincture.
His specific indications are sallow, dirty skin, tissues full and expressionless, face dull and apathetic, dyspepsia with vomiting of food and gastric distress, with desire to urinate frequently, choleric and dysenteric discharges, nocturnal restlessness, enervation, feeble, patient gloomy and despondent, atonic reproductive wrongs of the female, with pelvic fullness.
Dr. William Cook noted “its action is directed to the pneumongastric nerve, making it of service in asthma with gastric irritability”. William LeSassier used the whole plant collected during flower for spastic colon, crampy stools, tension in the lower pelvic area, ovarian pain, ileocecal valve pain.
HerbalGram (#44) printed a letter concerning Indian John, a Civil War herbalist. He used evening primrose leaves as a liniment for stopping goiter growth, massaged into the thyroid area. He also made an emulsion of the leaves for curing stomach cancer and other internal cancers, and leaf poultices for skin cancer sores.
The leaves are one of our richest sources of quercitin, a bioflavonoid useful in keeping healthy blood vessels, improving circulation and relieving asthma.
Dr. Winterburn writes in The American Homeopathist November 1883. “Oenothera is a useful remedy in asthma or dyspnoea associated with gastric irritability. It seems to have an especial influence on the pneumogastric, and when its function are disturbed by a morbidly sensitive gastric mucous membrane, showing itself reflexly in irritations of the laryngeal or pulmonary branches of that nerve, Oenothera is likely to prove helpful. In spasmodic asthma and whooping cough it fills a place similar to Lobelia, without its nauseant effect…I generally give ten drops of the first dilution in a half goblet of water, a teaspoonful every quarter of an hour until relieved.”
The stem bark is very mucilaginous, and decoctions can be used for soothing skin eruptions in children.
It is worth noting that evening primrose seed bran is one of the best natural sources of tryptophan available. One kilogram of dried seeds contains up to 16,000 mg of this important sedative amino acid. The dried bran would by weight contain much more; and would be a great addition to sleep promoting foods.
Increasing the amount of serotonin by directly stimulating dopamine D2 receptors has been shown to reduce the craving for alcohol. The oil has long been recommended for various obsessive compulsive disorders based on the oil; but perhaps the tryptophan content is also partly responsible.
The seed extract possesses significant anti-oxidant activity at 98,563 TE/100 grams. This is nearly 30 times higher than blueberries. Borchardt et al, J Med Plants Res 2008 2:4.
Grind the seeds and mix with flaxseed oil to combine GLA and tryptophan with a good quality ALA oil.
GLA will certainly increase in demand. Genetic engineers are presently attempting to splice the oil capacity to canola, which would significantly change the market.
The root of evening primrose (O. biennis) has been found to be strongly anti-fungal (85% at 250 ppm). Shukla et al, Journal of Ethnopharmacology Nov 1999. It is probably due to the gallic acid and unknown constituents.
The root can be made into syrup by chopping freshly harvested and cleaned pieces in twice the amount of honey and slowly reducing. It is great for irritating coughs or tickle that does not respond to other demulcent, relaxing herbs.
The root may possess immunosuppressive effects, and in one study blocked cytotoxic T lymphocyte mediated cytotoxicity. Hamada et al, Biol Pharm Bull 1997 20 1017-19.
Evening-Primrose leaves, stems, flowers, fruit and roots have been extracted with water, ethanol, ether and alkalis. Activity against gram negative, gram positive and mycobacterium has been found.
Early work by Hayes et al, Bot Gazette 1947 108 found plant extracts strongly inhibitory of E. coli.
The plant extract has anti-viral activity, and O. caespitosa extracts have been patented for treatment of Herpes simplex lesions, Epstein Barr and Varicella infections.
Yellow Evening Primrose patents for purple pigment, and thioproline for cancer therapies have been filed.
Ul’chenko et al, Chemistry of Natural Compounds 1998 34:5 compared the gamma linolenic acid content of O. biennis, with two other species. Both O. lamarekiana (6.3%), and O. tetraptera (5.5%) were richer in GLA than the evening primrose used commercially (5.4%). This may lead to some hybridization, or research into new strains. The oil content of O. lamarekiana was impressive, 24.7%, compared to O. biennis at 23.8%.
Kocourkova et al, 1999 in the Czech Republic looked at various Evening Primrose varieties for oil yield. They found O. ammofila to contain 17% GLA, leading to new breeding possibilities.
Red Evening Primrose contains the very interesting macrocylic hydrolyzable tannin, Oenothein B. First recognized in Lythrum anceps, and lately in Small flowering Willow Herb in Europe, this compound has been found to effective in reducing prostate inflammation. It is active ingredient in Fireweed.
Earlier studies showed it possesses both anti-viral and anti-tumour activity indicating application in both the inhibition of 5-alpha reductase responsible for benign prostatic hyperplasia as well as possible value in treating prostatic adenoma and carcinoma.
The related O. villosa has been found to be active against a broad spectrum of fungal species in work by Towers et al, at University of British Columbia.
The de-fatted seed of related O. paradoxa inhibits metallopeptidases, neutral endopeptidase and aminopeptidase. Kiss et al, J Ag Food Chem 2008 56:17.
Procyanidins from defatted seeds induce apoptosis and decrease angiogenesis in breast cancer cell lines. Lewandowska U et al, Nutr Cancer 2013 65(8): 1219-31.
*****Evening Primrose stem and immature pods
Oenothera biennis is the remedy for effortless diarrhea with nervous exhaustion. Summer diarrhea in children, or chronic diarrhea in thin, emaciated subjects is relieved.
It is useful in whooping cough and spasmodic asthma. It has been shown to be useful in severe water retention in the brain (hydrocephalus).
Vertigo, swimming sensation in had and loss of muscular power. Numbness and pricking pain in body, accompanied by severe chills and cramping in muscles of abdomen and extremities.
DOSE- First potency. The mother tincture is prepared from the whole fresh plant in flower. First observation based on effects in forty-year old woman with first a teaspoon and then 30 drops of fluid extract in 1870s. Clinical observations by Boericke and Blackwood round out the symptoms.
CONSTITUENTS- cis-linoleic acid (72%), GLA (9%), palmitic, oleic and stearic
acids. The protein is rich in sulphur bearing amino acids and tryptophan.
A GLA, or gamma linolenic acid rich oil, with an aromatic flavour similar to poppy seed oil is produced from the ripe seeds. Over two hundred and fifty papers have been written on its medical wonders. From auto-immune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis; to skin problems like eczema and psoriasis; to relieving PMS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, endometriosis, and heart disease.
The oil is especially beneficial to patients with low delta-6-desaturase levels. Gamma linolenic acid is not normally obtained directly from dietary sources and the body relies on metabolic conversion from dietary linolenic acid. This may be affected by various concerns including age, diabetes, cardiovascular and cholestero health, high alcohol intake, viral infections, cancer, nutritional defects, atopic eczema and premenstrual syndrome.
Patients suffering diabetic neuropathy, in one clinical trial involving 22 males and females, showed positive benefit in a parallel, double-blind study.
Eleven type 1 diabetic children were given evening primrose oil (EPO) for four months, in a study at Juntendo University, in Tokyo. Metabolism of prostaglandin and fat metabolism both improved and stabilized.
Two studies in England involving over 400 patients with diabetes showed nerve damage, or neuropathy was significantly reduced.
Dr. Boulton, of the Royal Hospital in Manchester found similar improvement in 146 diabetics in a one year study.
Sardine oil, vitamin E and EPO were given to diabetics in a study at the Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital in Tokyo. Lower blood lipid levels and prevention of vascular occlusions were noted, in some cases after only one month.
A human, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial by Jamal et al, Lancet 1986 1098 on patients with diabetic neuropathy demonstrated reversal of symptoms with evening primrose oil.
A randomized, double blind, crossover study of fifteen healthy females by Tahvonen et al, J Nutr Biochem 2005 16:6 compared fish oil and black currant seed oil for two four week periods.
Results showed the seed oil increased the proportion of 18:3n6 in triacylglycerols (TAG) and cholesteryl esters, and that of dihomo- gamma-linolenic (20:3n6) in TAGs, CEs and glycerophospholipids.
Serum levels of LDL cholesterol were lower after black currant seed oil compared to fish oil.
There are mixed reviews on the effectiveness of EPO in treating PMS. In some studies, remission of severe symptoms was found in up to 61% of patients. Recent review of seven, placebo controlled clinical trials (5 randomized), reported improvements in PMS. But two of the better-controlled studies, failed to show any benefit.
In all the studies, no changes are found in plasma levels of 6-keto- prostaglandin F, FSH, LH, prolactin, progesterone, estradiol or testosterone, suggesting some other mechanism at work.
One placebo-controlled, double-blind study on 35 women suffering menopausal flushing, showed no significant difference from control. The oil was found to work synergistically with tamoxifen, in a study of 38 patients by Kenny et al, Int J Cancer 2000 85.
Hypersensitivity to prolactin during PMS is believed due to low levels of PGE.
Twenty-eight women with menopausal symptoms were given EPO for six months, in a study at the Hospital for Obstetrics and Gynecology at Keele University. Evaluation of their diaries indicated significant reduction in night-time hot flashes.
A recent six week randomized clinical trial of 56 menopausal women, looked at intensity of hot flashes. Two capsules daily of epo or placebo were taken daily. Results found decreased intensity and frequency in group taking oil. Farzaneh F et al, Arch Gynecol Obstet 2013 288(5): 1075-9.
Studies from Scotland show that evening primrose oil encouraged the regeneration of liver cell damage caused by alcohol. It is thought to stop alcohol from damaging brain cells by bolstering them with unsaturated fats. The brain is composed mainly of fat.
Evening Primrose oil has been found to reduce tremors from chronic lithium use by manic-depressive patients.
Studies from a New York hospital found it helped over-weight people reduce. Other studies have shown improvement in over two-thirds of hyperactive children.
Although two older, large trials found no benefit in atopic eczema, other trials have found positive results in children, 1-12 years and 320-480 mg in adults for three months. McHenry et al, BMJ 1995 310.
Two recent clinical trials suggest efficacy in atopic dermatitis (AD).
In one trial of forty patients, doses of 160 mg and 320 mg of epo daily were equally effective in treating the skin condition. Chung BY et al Ann Dermatol 2013 25(3): 285-91.
An open study of twenty-one patients with AD found a correlation between GLA levels and clinical efficacy. Simon D et al, Adv Ther 2014 31(2): 180-8.
Women with non-cyclic breast pain and inflammation found that taking three grams daily of EPO has equal effect to bromocriptine, or danazol but with fewer side effects (4% vs. 30-35%).
One study of 566 women with benign breast disease at Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland over seven years, found EPO and B6 of significant benefit. Another study at University Clinic in Manchester found 75% of women with breast pain were treated successfully with EPO.
A study at King’s College hospital in London involving 276 physicians revealed 30% reported good results in treating mastopathy, or painful breasts. Work by Horobin, Rev Contemp Pharmacother 1990 1 found GLA helpful in cyclical mastalgia. Combined with EPA, the oil
was found to reduce symptoms of endometriosis in 90% of women; whereas 90% of placebo group found no relief. This work also found beneficial effect in ulcerative colitis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, with relief of lethargy and modest improvement in tear flow.
A six week randomized clinical trial of 56 menopausal women found 500 mg daily of evening primrose oil decreased intensity of hot flashes and improved social activity, relations with others and sexuality.
Farzaneh F et al, Arch Gynecol Obstet 2013 288:5.
Midwives have found that new mothers, who would normally have 12 hours of active labour, have only 4-6 hours when taking up to four grams of evening primrose oil daily throughout pregnancy. Perineal lacerations/episiotomies and stretch marks are significantly reduced.
The oil can also be rubbed directly on the cervix to encourage softening and opening. Apply oil to fingers and rub slowly around and into the os, holding the os open through 2-3 contractions.
Evening Primrose Oil appears to help prevent pre-eclampsia, a serious complication of pregnancy involving sudden rise in blood pressure and edema. A controlled, double-blind study at Tulane University in New Orleans found a combination of EPO, fish oil and magnesium oxide resulted in not one case; while the placebo group had three cases.
Animal and human cancer cell studies in South Africa and India found GLA reduced cancer growth by 70%, probably by binding to certain proteins that stimulate formation and growth of these cells.
GLA is found in breast milk. Sometimes infants switched to artificial milk formulas are deficient in delta-6-desaturase, with resultant atopic eczema. A baby’s digestive system is not fully developed until at least five months of age. Massaging the oil directly into skin allows quick absorption into the body. In England, topical creams are registered for medicinal use for this very condition. The oil makes a superior carrier oil for use in skin care and aroma therapeutics.
Neurodermatitis is a chronic skin condition related to allergic response, causing burning and itching, especially at night.
One study at the University of Turku, Finland on 14 sufferers for 12 weeks found significant reduction of infections.
A year-long multi-centre study of 609 patients found significant symptom relief after three months. In over half of patients the symptoms improved to degree that no further medication was needed.
Dr. Lepore has found that evening primrose oil appears to antidote wheat and corn allergies. The oil helps prevent formation of leukotrienes that contribute to asthma attacks. Prostaglandin E1 produced from GLA also prevents release of arachidonic acid, helping prevent inflammation.
In studies on patients with tremors from Parkinson’s disease, two teaspoons of evening primrose oil daily for several months resulted in a 55% improvement.
Evening Primrose oil helps abnormal tear production, soft, brittle finger nails, and alleviates the effects of alcohol.
The oil may help patients suffering Raynaud’s disease, characterized by cold hands and feet. Belch et al, Thromb Haemost 1985 54:2.
Combine with prickly ash bark.
Synergism with colchicine in multiple sclerosis showed improvement in disability score in a human study.
And the oil reduced cyclosporine-induced kidney damage, albeit in a rat study.
In one study with a psychiatric control group and a normal control group, EPO supplementation did not produce improvement in abnormal movement measurements.
But there was significant improvement in mental state, schizophrenic symptoms and memory in those receiving essential fatty acids. In the open phase at end of trial, the supplementation of zinc, niacin, B6 and vitamin C showed more marked and significant clinical improvement.
One isolated study at Bootham Park Hospital in York, England showed marked improvement in symptoms of schizophrenia when EPO was used in combination with penicillin. No one knows why.
Another study found patients diagnosed as schizophrenic and treated with phenothiazines were later re-diagnosed with epilepsy.
The seed husk contains tryptophan, with some in the oil. It has been found that tryptophan boosts the effectiveness of L-dopa (faba bean). See Brain.
Isolated cases of EPO and B12 helping chronic fatigue syndrome have been reported from the University of Miami and New Zealand.
Evening primrose meal has great potential as a source of natural antioxidants. Schwarz et al, Eur Food Res Technol 2001 212.
At the present time the growing season on the prairies is better suited to borage than evening primrose for commercial production.
Supercritical, or CO2 extraction is a preferred process to solvents like hexane. At 122º F and 10,000 psi, more than 95% of evening primrose oil is obtained in 10 minutes.
At -25MPa, and a temperature of 25-35º C, and a CO2 flow of 38-40 kg/h, extraction time is about three hours for the same 95%.
Solvent extraction includes the cost of solvent waste disposal, exposure of personnel to hazardous chemicals, as well as more time and less product recovery. Not to mention, a less healthy product for consumers.
Note that the wild evening primrose seed can vary greatly in oil content. Commercial suppliers and plant breeders have developed cultivar varieties with the yields noted above.
In one animal study, evening primrose outshone both borage and black currant oils at reversing diabetic neuropathy. This may or may not relate to humans, but each oil does have unique properties. Trials have found the oil helps reverse muscle weakness, arm tendon reflex and numbness.
A double-blind, randomized trail of one hundred multiple sclerosis patients divided participants into three groups. One received hemp seed and evening primrose oil with diet recommendations, another just the oils, and another olive oil. The first group showed beneficial effects after six months. Olive oil group was worse. Rezapour-Firouzi et al, Complement Ther Med 2013 21(5): 473-80.
In another study by Munoz et al, Nutrition 1999 15 evening primrose oil was found to enhance the body’s ability to fight cancer tumours. Work by Horrobin in 1994 found high doses of GLA prolonged life, without side effects, in patients suffering from liver, breast, brain and esophageal cancers.
Faster response to tamoxifen was found in patients with estrogen sensitive breast cancer.
A study at Tufts University in Boston in 2000 found 4.5 grams of seed oil promoted cell mediated immune function.
Numerous studies, including some above and others, suggest the efficacy of EPO in various autoimmune disease, childhood hyperactivity, chronic inflammation, ethanol toxicity and acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Icthyosis vulgaris, scleroderma, Sjogren’s syndrome, brittle nails, mastalgia, various psychiatric syndromes, tardive dyskinesia, ulcerative colitis, and migraine headaches.
Various patents have been filed; from vegetable-derived petroleum jelly replacement to treatment of ulcerative colitis to immunosuppressive agents.
The oil may inhibit conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, helping prevent benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Phenolics with significant anti-oxidant potential have been found in the seed meal by Wettasinghe et al, J Ag Food Chem 2002 50. They consist of over 10.5% (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin.
Peschel et al, Ind Crops and Prod 2007 25:1 found the seedcake to possess high anti-oxidant potential.
CAUTION- Some individuals with schizophrenia taking epileptogenic drugs (phenothiazines) and evening primrose oil may be subject to increased risk of temporal lobe epilepsy, or difficulty in breathing. This report has been repeated numerous times, and yet, the only reference is an anonymous entry in the Data Sheet Compendium 1994-5, with no details available.
No seizures or epileptic events were observed in a crossover study of 48 patients (mostly schizophrenic) taking phenothiazines when given EPO for four months. Vaddadi KS et al, Psychiatry Res 1989 27 313-23.
Phenothiazines decrease seizure threshold on their own, so any interaction report would have to be very well documented to be credible. Borage oil may be a suitable substitute, for those concerned.
Essential oil, steam distilled from the leaves and root of evening primrose (O. biennis), showed 79 constituents. The main component is furfural.
The related O. odorata from China is made into a concrete; with linalool and indole the main constituents of 24 compounds identified thus far.
LEAF AND FLOWER OIL
An oil infusion can be made of the leaves and stems of evening primrose by gently simmering in olive or canola oil. Use equal parts by weight and volume for superior product, for 30 minutes and then removing from heat and let sit for two more hours.
To make an ointment for treating cradle cap, eczema and other skin affections of children, simply add a small amount of pure beeswax until desired consistency.
Evening primrose (O. biennis) flower essence is needed often because of the over concern of parents; leading to over sensitivity of the child to ideas and influences regarding themselves.
Sometimes the caring, smothering type of concern can manifest later as a hatred of the mother. It may never be expressed while mother is essential for life sustenance, but festers away in the personality to cause problems later in life. This can lead to feeling unsafe, or feeling uncomfortable with tears. NEW ZEALAND
Evening primrose (O. hookeri) is for feelings of rejection, avoidance of commitment in relationships, or fear of parenthood.
The soul is most open while in utero or in very early infancy. At this time the soul is more like a moon-being than a sun-being; it receives and reflects the soul light of the parents, but especially the mother. FLOWER ESSENCE SOCIETY
Evening Primrose (O. caespitosa) flower essence is for those who lack inner strength and are overly sensitive; or prone to depression, nervousness, anxiety, rejection or sexual suppression. They may have unhealed childhood issues related specifically to the mother, such as feeling rejected or not bonded. Or they may suffer from identity crises. LIVING FLOWER
Missouri Primrose (O. missouriensis) works on the self-esteem by helping a person learn to accept and receive love, friendship, goodness, pleasure and other forms of self-nurturing. An individual develops a sense of self-worth based on general conditions of love, respect and nurturing obtained from childhood. DALTON
Evening Primrose (O. lamarckiana) strengthens the creative forces of the moon. It helps you to rediscover and connect with the source of your self-confidence, beauty and the inner feminine. Gives insight into the old, unknown areas of darkness, such as incest, abuse and problems with sexuality. BLOESEM
The generous, warm message of the Evening Primrose flower spirit is one of love. It is time for you to discard all your resistance to loving and being loved and allow it to happen, naturally, with no conditions. ECLARE
The leaves of Evening primrose have a beneficial effect on the vagus nerve.
Traditionally, this nerve was thought of as a physical sensor related to digestion.
However, recent research conducted by psychologist Robert A. Jensen, at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, has reported evidence in humans that the vagus nerve helps store memory.
Researchers have found that stimulating the vagus nerve improves memory, and may play an important role in helping victims of stroke or head trauma recover faster.
The work by Jensen and colleagues, reported in journal Nature Neuroscience, may help explain why people remember emotionally charged events better than ordinary happenings.
The vagus nerve is a kind of two-way street. It relays commands from the brain to regulate heartbeat, and keeps the brain informed about the stomach.
Studies suggest that arousal hormones use the vagus nerve to tell the brain to hang onto particular memories.
Researchers looked at 10 people involved in a medical study to see if stimulating the vagus nerve could suppress epileptic seizures.
In word memory studies, an improvement of 36% better word recognition occurred in those receiving nerve stimulation.
It showed the vagus nerve helps the brain store the memory of something that just happened, rather than alerting the brain to pay attention to what’s coming up. PRAIRIE DEVA
For me, Evening Primrose’s primary medicine (at least, for right now), is a luminous kind of calm I feel when I taste it, and what I can only describe as a clear and quiet mind and heart—very much a gift to me. JANE VALENCIA
DOCTRINE OF SIGNATURES
The flower emerges from a tuft of leaves that grown directly from the root crown, and the significance of the white flower demonstrates a magnetic healing flow of energy from the root crown to the crown at the top of the head. The flower wilts to a gentle pink colour, corresponding with the power, compassion and love of the heart or fourth chakra.
The soft yet strong velvety, hairy leaves symbolize gentle strength.
The flower appears delicate, yet it’s stronger than it seems; its nectar is deep and sweet, yet it can grow from dry, rocky ground. This is symbolic of having a strong foundation or connection to earth, taking in earth’s nectar and giving it back to Spirit. The physical vitality of the flower lasts only one night, giving the flower a full appreciation of valuing a short life. The flowers bloom towards evening, all evening long, and in the early morning before being hit by the sun. This is a significant signature of its relationship to the moon, the feminine and the mother. PALLASDOWNEY
MYTHS AND LEGENDS
When the Old Ones of the Ani-Tsalagi tell the story of the beginning of the world, they speak of the two brothers who were made by the Father.
These two brothers knew that people lived in the depths of the underground world in darkness and filth. The two descended into the earth and led the people up. The sun was so bright it made them cry, and the tears which fell grew into flowers of the sun, (and) became the evening primrose and the sunflower. HEATHERLEY
Pretty flowers wild and plain
With special oils in its seed
Fatty acids they contain
Helps prevent deficiency
Use the plant as a poultice too
Decoct the root for hemorrhoid grief
Soothe sore throats and heal a wound
Bring a tummy ache relief
The use of the oil is fairly new
It can help with PMS
Asthma and inflammation too
Helps relieve painful breasts
For eczema, it’s a great friend
Put the dryness to an end
Allergies to keep at bay
Drink the tea for obesity
A Yin tonic you might like
Seems quite safe so take it freely
Inflammation take a hike!
SYLVIA CHATROUX MD
TINCTURE- 30-60 drops 3X daily. The fresh plant tincture is made 1:2 at 60% alcohol, or 1:5 dry tincture at 40%.
FLUID EXTRACT- five to thirty drops.
INFUSION- Up to four cups daily of leaf and flower tea. Prepare 1:20 with hot water.
DECOCTION- Two to four ounces three times daily of simmered root. Same ratio as above.
SYRUP- Chop dried or fresh root and simmer slowly in twice the volume of honey. Strain and bottle. One tablespoon every 3-4 hours.