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Evening Primrose Oil

Evening Primrose Oil - Herbal Research
A WHO Organizational resource: Evening Primrose Oil - FULL REPORT

Medicinal uses supported by clinical data
Internally for symptomatic treatment of atopic eczema (2, 16-21), diabetic neuropathy (22, 23), and mastalgia (24-26). Clinical evidence for its use in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (27-30) is conflicting, as are the results of trials in women with premenstrual syndrome (31-35). Further well-designed clinical trials are needed to clarify these data. The results from clinical trials do not support the use of Oleum Oenotherae Biennis for the treatment of climacteric symptoms or psoriasis (36, 37).
Uses described in pharmacopoeias and in traditional systems of medicine
Topical use for the treatment of minor bruises and wounds (2).
Uses described in folk medicine, not supported by experimental or clinical data
Taken internally for the treatment of asthma, coughs, gastrointestinal disorders, pain and whooping cough (2, 9, 38).


2. Briggs CJ. Evening primrose. Canadian Pharmaceutical Journal, 1986, 119:249-254.
9. Stuart M, ed. The encyclopedia of herbs and herbalism. London, Orbis Publishing, 1979.
16. Biagi PL et al. A long-term study on the use of evening primrose oil (Efamol) in atopic children. Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research, 1988, 14:285-290.
17. Biagi PL et al. The effect of gamma-linolenic acid on clinical status, red cell fatty acid composition and membrane microviscosity in infants with atopic dermatitis. Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research, 1994, 20:77-84.
18. Bordoni A et al. Evening primrose oil (Efamol) in the treatment of children with atopic eczema. Drugs under Experimental and Clinical Research, 1987, 14:291-297.
19. Reynolds JEF, ed. Martindale, the extra pharmacopoeia, 30th ed. London, Pharmaceutical Press, 1996.
20. Morse PF et al. Meta-analysis of placebo-controlled studies of the efficacy of Epogam in the treatment of atopic eczema. Relationship between plasma essential fatty acid changes and clinical response. British Journal of Dermatology, 1989, 121:75-90.
21. Wright S, Burton JL. Oral evening primrose seed oil improves atopic eczema. Lancet, 1982, ii:1120-1122.
22. Jamal GA et al. The effect of gamma-linolenic acid on human diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Diabetic Medicine, 1990, 7:319-323.
23. Keen H et al. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy with gamma-linolenic acid. The gamma-Linolenic Acid Multicenter Trial Group. Diabetes Care, 1993, 16:8-15.
24. Gateley CA et al. Drug treatments for mastalgia: 17 years’ experience in the Cardiff mastalgia clinic. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 1992, 85:12-15.
25. Pashby NL et al. A clinical trial of evening primrose oil in mastalgia. British Journal of Surgery, 1981, 68:801-824.
26. Pye JK, Mansel RE, Hughes LE. Clinical experience of drug treatments for mastalgia. Lancet, 1985, ii:373-377.
27. Hansen TM et al. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with prostaglandin E1 precursors cis-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. Scandinavian Journal of Rheumatology, 1983, 12:85-88.
28. Jantti J et al. Evening primrose oil and olive oil in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Clinical Rheumatology, 1989, 8:238-244.
29. Brzeski M et al. Evening primrose oil in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and sideeffects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. British Journal of Rheumatology, 1991, 30:370-372.
30. Belch JJ et al. Effects of altering dietary essential fatty acids on requirements for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a double-blind placebo-controlled study. Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, 1988, 47:96-104.
31. Horrobin DF. The role of essential fatty acids and prostaglandins in the premenstrual syndrome. Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 1983, 28:465-468.
32. O’Brian PMS et al. Premenstrual syndrome: clinical studies on essential fatty acids. In: Horrobin DF, ed. Omega-6-essential fatty acids. Pathophysiology and roles in clinical medicine. New York, NY, Wiley-Liss, 1990:523-545.
33. Brush MG. Evening primrose oil in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. In: Horrobin DF, ed. Clinical uses of essential fatty acids. Montreal, Eden Press, 1983.
34. Collins A et al. Essential fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 1993, 81:93-98.
35. Khoo SK et al. Evening primrose oil and treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Medical Journal of Australia, 1990, 153:189-192.
36. Chenoy R et al. Effect of oral gamolenic acid from evening primrose oil on menopausal flushing. British Medical Journal, 1994, 308:501-503.
37. Oliwiecki S, Burton JL. Evening primrose oil and marine oil in the treatment of psoriasis. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 1994, 19:127-129.
38. Farnsworth NR, ed. NAPRALERT database. Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL, November 6, 1998 production (an online database available directly through the University of Illinois at Chicago or through the Scientific and Technical Network [STN] of Chemical Abstracts Services).

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