Evening primrose oil

Sourced from the seed of the evening primrose plant, evening primrose oil, or oenothera, is used in the management of skin disorders such as eczemapsoriasis and acne.

What are its health benefits?

Evening primrose oil’s uses include assisting in the management of the following conditions:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
  • Breast pain during menstruation
  • Symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes

Literature suggests that it may assist in the management of the following conditions:

Women use evening primrose oil in pregnancy for preventing high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia), to induce labour, shortening labour, and preventing late deliveries.

It is generally considered safe for use while breastfeeding.

Using evening primrose oil for hair loss and evening primrose oil for skin conditions such as eczema or atopic dermatitis is also popular.

Do you have a deficiency?

Adults who suffer from a gamma linolenic acid (GLA) deficiency (the active ingredient in evening primrose oil) can show signs of gastritis (inflammation of the lining of the stomach).

GLA deficiencies in babies may occur when they are fed with infant formula instead of breast milk. Symptoms may include dryness, thickening of the skin, and growth failure.

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

An evening primrose oil supplement usually comes in capsule form.

While there is no recommended evening primrose oil dosage, it has been administered orally in clinical trials at doses between 6 and 8g per day in adults and 2 and 4g per day in children.

If you are considering taking evening primrose oil, first talk to your doctor or Clicks pharmacist about whether you should be taking it and the correct dosage if so. 

Possible side effects

Side effects are rare but consult with your doctor if you experience any of the following mild side effects:

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following severe side effects:

  • Severe allergic reactions (rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue).

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

This medicine has not been evaluated by the Medicines Control Council. This medicine is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in September 2015