Evening primrose oil (EPO) is found in the seeds of the evening primrose plant one of many species making up the oenothera genus of plants. The evening primrose is a tall, hardy biennial found in many parts of North America. The plant typically reaches a height of 3 to 4 feet.
Its pale yellow flowers bloom for most of the summer and open in the evening hence the name evening primrose. Its roots can be eaten like a vegetable (they have a flavor similar to pepper), and the shoots can be eaten as a salad.
- Evening primrose is a natural source of the unsaturated fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
- EPO is one of the richest sources of GLA.
- For centuries, women of all ages have depended on the reliability of evening primrose oil.
- EPO helps promote menstrual health and provides nutritional support for women with PMS.
- EPO nutritionally supports healthy skin and can help with dry skin.
- EPO promotes nerve health.
- EPO supports joint health.
- EPO supports heart and cardiovascular health.
- GLA is a precursor to prostaglandins, action-specific bio-molecules which regulate many important functions in cells.
- GLA is important for cardiovascular health by promoting the release of prostacyclin, a vasodilator.
- EPO is one of the few plant sources of GLA.
- Gamma-linolenic acid is a fatty acid not commonly found in food.
- Many factors can affect the body's ability to convert linoleic acid into GLA. These include aging, intake of certain nutrients such as zinc, B6, magnesium, biotin and calcium, stress, and cholesterol levels. This is why supplementing with evening primrose oil, a natural source of GLA, can be so important for overall women's health.
The existence of evening primrose evidently dates back to the Pleistocene Era which began about 1.8 million years ago. To put that in perspective, it was the period which marked the end of the last great glaciers which covered much of North America.
During the periods of global warming which separated the advance and retreat of each great glacier, waves of botanical development brought many new plants it is likely one of those plants was evening primrose.
These separate waves of plant growth and expansion during the Pleistocene Era may account for the fact there are 125 different species of oenothera (a term first used in botany in 1587). One of the common names for oenothera King's cure-all reflects the traditional history of the plant and the wide range of powers ascribed to it.
In America, evening primrose was originally grown and used by North American Indians to support circulation in the body.
- The oil of evening primrose is notable as a rich source of the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) an omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid.
- In fact, evening primrose oil contains up to 25 percent essential fatty acids including both linolenic acid (LA) and GLA. Earlier in this program you learned the importance of fatty acids. Among other benefits, they may support calcium absorption, reduce calcium excretion, and support bone strength.
- GLA is a precursor of prostaglandin E1. Prostaglandins affect the function of virtually every system in the body and are involved in the regulation of the immune system, fluid balance, blood clotting, and hormone production.
- When combined with natural body processes, GLA exhibits soothing and lipid-lowering potential. It enhances smooth muscle relaxation and may be beneficial in certain dry-eye conditions. GLA can also provide support for women during the menstrual cycle.
- GLA can be synthesized from linoleic acid in the body, but biological conversion is estimated to be less than 10 percent. Since there are no significant food sources for GLA, supplementation is important for supporting women's health.
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