Evening primrose

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Overview

Evening primrose is a plant with yellow flowers.

Evening primrose oil extracted from plant seeds is usually sold in capsules. The supplement contains the fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

People take evening primrose oil orally to treat a wide variety of conditions.

Evidence

Research on evening primrose use for specific conditions shows:

  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Research on oral use of evening primrose oil to treat eczema has produced conflicting results. The most comprehensive evaluation is that evening primrose taken orally doesn't effectively relieve the signs and symptoms of eczema.
  • Diabetic neuropathy. Research on the use of evening primrose oil to treat this type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes has been inconclusive.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Research suggests no benefit for oral use of evening primrose oil to treat symptoms of PMS.

Our take

Yellow light: Caution

Caution

While evening primrose oil is probably safe for most people to take short term, research doesn't support the use of the supplement as a treatment for any condition.

Oct. 24, 2017