CLICK: Color Control   Color Choice

Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose"The flowers open in the evening and close up during the day and are
strongly scented with a delicious sweet perfume which attracts
pollinating moths."

There are so many varieties of Evening Primrose. I have grown an ornamental variety in my garden for some years, though it is actually a North American wildflower. I have always known my proliferate garden variety as "Prince" or "King Primrose". Otherwise, while growing as many actual herbs and wildflowers as I could find, I also set out to see how many years it would take to grow my actual Evening Primrose plant (Oenothera biennis, Family: Onagraceae)into a twelve-foot giant, such as the wild-grown plants I have enjoyed visiting on the outskits of a local sanctuary in Carleton Place, Ontario.


Before we moved to Glencairn, my Evening Primrose was about four feet high, and it grew quietly in the semi-shade. This plant will grow in anything from deep shady wetland areas to full sun in dry sand. It seeds enormously, and the rosettes of dark-green and rose-tinged leaves as they appear in the Spring have to be (unhappily) weeded, as if they were unwanted and noxious weeds.
Something I dislike is to "junk" plants. My garden can successfully make fourteen old ladies and the landfill engineers happy from Spring to frost with its many weededout products, as I attempt to keep a burgeoning jungle under control. Growing indigenous wildflowers and hardy flowering herbs assure the gardener that the flowers will return in the Spring in the multitudes. I am never without a myriad of seeds, seedlings or uses for my plants - but I haven't time to do something productive with every seedling forked from the fresh earth. Of course, my compost bucket keeps the flowers well-fed, once or twice a year.


The fact that the herbal remedy, Evening Primrose Oil delivers the "happy vibe", GLA, or gamma linolenic acid, is fairly well known to nutrition or health-conscious people like myself, but advances in research indicate that the original uses for the vitamin cum nutrient and also food, Evening Primrose are joined by new discoveries in health studies.
You know that taking Evening Primrose Oil  (EPO) can help you lose weight through breaking down fatty plaque, and even blood clotting. (When I first started to take it, I lost eighteen pounds in a month!) What you may not know is that EPO can actually play a medicinal role in the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis.
I remember, so many years ago, visiting with my Doctor with the discovery that taking EPO caps plus Yarrow Tea as a hot drink seemed to have successfully cleared the obstinate blood clotting from which I had suffered from ten years. To this day I have not had to go back to the Anturan or Persantine which I had to take for so long! In those days, someone had suggested the EPO and I had bought it right away, but I had never seen anything written as comfirmation of my own discovery.


The news is in:


"Traditional uses of evening primrose as an astringent, antibiotic, mucilaginous, expectorant, antitussive, and digestive stimulant have given way to modern uses concentrating on a single property of the plant. The oil is high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is readily converted in the body to prostaglandin E1; therefore, it is employed in the treatment of any and every condition for which prostaglandin could be beneficial.
Numbering among those conditions are:
 premenstrual syndrome, benign breast disease, cholesterol regulation, platelet aggregation, blood pressure regulation, obesity, atopic disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, mental disorders, rheumatism, alcoholism, and childhood hyperactivity.

Evening Primrose - Method of Action
Evening Primrose Oil is a Rich Source of GLA The real value of evening primrose lies in the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) content of its oil. GLA is an important intermediary in the metabolic conversion of linoleic acid (technically, the cis-isomer) to prostaglandin E1. Essentially that pathway goes as follows: cis-linoleic acid --> --> gamma-linolenic acid --> --> dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid --> --> prostaglandin E1 The normal diet is quite sufficient in linoleic acid, but the first step in its conversion to prostaglandin E1 can be easily blocked. Among the known blocking agents are: viruses, carcinogens, cholesterol, saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, alcohol, insufficient zinc or insulin, radiation, insufficient delta-6-desaturase, and the aging process. Dietary GLA could therefore be extremely valuable since very few factors block the successive steps in the metabolic pathway. Most, if not all, properties of evening primrose oil resemble and indeed can be attributed to the actions of prostaglandin E1."


Sam Ibrahim, Owner - Nutrition Plus Pharmacy Edmonton, AB

Presented at the Prairie Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Conference - Olds, Alberta - March 3-5, 1996  Botanical Description and Habitat Oenothera biennis Family

Please click the above link for a wealth of further information on EPO.



Common Names:

Common Evening Primrose, Fever plant, Scabish, Scurvish, Sundrop Tree Primrose, Willow Herb ,Great Evening-Primrose, King's-cure-all, Night willow-herb.



Native to the North Temperate Zone, east of the Rockies to the Atlantic coast; found in dry meadows, waste places, and along roadsides.


The plant is a perennial herb with an erect, hairy stem bearing alternate, rough, hairy, lanceolate leaves. The leaves taper to a point and grow from 3 - 6 inches long. Yellow flowers bloom in umbrels, 1 to 1-1/2 inches across, from June to October. Fruit is an oblong, hairy capsule.
The whole of the Evening Primrose may be used in both medicine and in diet. A british agrarian recewntly wrote to say that the root is really fairly balnd to eat. The leaves may be included in salad or boiled. Personally, I would boil any part of the plant before eating, since spiders love it.

Traditional uses

Astringent, antibiotic, mucilaginous, expectorant, antitussive, and digestive stimulant have given way to modern uses concentrating on a single property of the plant.


Modern Ideas

Studies involving Effamol, EPO and EPO plus fish oils (Efamol Marine)are shown through the link below to help cope with MS, Arthritis, Psoroasis Alcoholism and Diabetic Neuropathy (A loss of sensation affecting some older diabetics). Brain and liver function improved more quickly for alcoholics, in the study mentioned.

 "Psoriasis may be responsive to a combination of Evening Primrose oil and fish oils (GammaOil Marine). A preliminary study in Denmark has shown this to be so, and a more comprehensive study is currently underway."

Antimicrobial Activity

"Evening Primrose Oil has good antimicrobial activity Evening Primrose oil has some antitubercular activity as well as antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. It is active against Staphylococcus citrius, S. roseus, Pseudomonas pyocyanea, Streptococcus pyogenes, E. coli, Bacillus subtilis, Klebsiella aerogenes, Diplococcus pneumoniae and Salmonella typhi. For each of these organisms, the oil compared favourably with penicillin. "




 " A number of trials have also shown the benefits of evening primrose oil in preventing pre-menstrual symptoms including breast tenderness and water retention, but they have shown no benefits in menopausal flushing. "

"Patients with Raynaud's syndrome (cold hands), post-viral fatigue syndrome and alcohol withdrawal all experienced symptomatic relief .."


Contra-indications, warnings, side-effects:

Patients with a history of epilepsy should avoid evening primrose oil as it may lower their threshold for seizures. Also, those taking phenothiazines for schizophrenia should use evening primrose oil with caution as it may precipitate epilepsy. The most common side-effects reported in trials are headache and mild nausea.


Photo by Karen Shelton Copyright 2001 Photo by Deb Jackson Copyright 2000



"The leaves are cooked and eaten as greens and the roots are said to be sweet succulent and delicious when boiled like potatoes. Flowers are a sweet addition to salads or as a garnish and young seedpods are Steamed. This plant was a staple food for many Native American tribes. Formerly cultivated for its nutritious edible roots, it is being increasingly cultivated for the oil contained in its seeds which contains certain the essential gamma-linoleinc acid (GLA), a very valuable fatty acid that is not found in many plants and has numerous vital functions in the body.


 Roasted seeds: Rotate and press dry seed capsules to release seed, roast in oven for 15 to 20 min. at 350 deg. Use on bread or in salad, sprinkle over any dish like pepper.


Grieves,  A Modern Herbal: Constituents Reference

Gamma Linolenic- 9.7% Linoleic- 74.1% Oleic- 7% Palmitic- 5.9%


Agricultural Expert Consulting:

"On the basis of its health-food business and its registered pharmaceutical products Efamol (now renamed Scotia Holdings) was able to raise substantial amounts of investment funding, particularly during the 'biotech boom' of the early 1990's, which it used to increase substantially its rate of research into other disease states which showed a disturbance of GLA metabolism. Particularly promising areas included cancer, the long-term complications of diabetes and the side effects of radiotherapy. One problem in tackling these diseases was that ...."


Womens Health and History of Medicine

"Evening Primrose Oil is well known to help in liver and spleen conditions by working through the stomach. ...It has been used in Europe to treat multiple sclerosis and helps rid the body of toxins caused by a bad diet. It is special in its action to stop thrombosis (blood clots) by opening the blood vessels. Also, Evening Primrose oil relieves the pain of angina, and helps in preventing inflammation and the pain of arthritis. New information about helping skin problems, female problems (menstrual cramps, hot flashes) and Endometriosis are reported to be relieved.


In laboratory tests, Evening Primrose oil stops the growth of many kinds of cancer cells, suggesting it should be a cancer prevention. Whooping cough and many types of coughs can be helped along with some headaches, nervousness, depression, eye problems and hyperactivity in children."




index ] text-only directory ] column ] herb directory ] moonphase] links] contact ] copyright] credits] dictionary ]

copyright Sue Risk, Northdays Image 2004 - 2015