Submitted by: T. Mahabir
Native to North America, the evening primrose is a yellow wildflower that blooms at night. The flower s name is a result of its resemblance to the primrose but the plant actually belongs to the willow family. Its tiny seeds are an excellent source of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). It has been utilized for medicinal purposes for many centuries, both internally as well as externally. Traditionally known as the King s cure-all in England, the plant was also used medicinally by Native American tribes. Evening primrose oil extracted from the wildflower s seeds offers a good combination of herbal medicine and nutrition.
In the past decade or so there has been increasing interest shown in GLA in medical research circles globally. While not conclusive, most of the findings have been promising and positive, especially with respect to either symptom reduction or clearing of all types of inflammatory conditions, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), immunodepressed states, cardiovascular disease, skin disorders, and arthritis.
GLA has been found to be effective as an anti-inflammatory agent but with none of the common side effects seen with traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. GLA is difficult to come by ordinarily in our diets, though our bodies can manufacture GLA from an essential fatty acid known as linoleic acid. Many health conditions and symptoms can arise as a result of a linoleic acid deficiency.
The human body uses GLA to form the prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) series. If you increase your intake of GLA, you automatically encourage a rise in the formation of PGE1, which has an array of beneficial effects. The PGE1 series is possibly one of the key hormone-like prostaglandins that helps reduce inflammation, cholesterol formation, and also regulates the formation of abnormal cells and blood vessel tone.
GLA is said to help decrease blood clotting and arterial spasms, which along with vascular inflammation are factors that may contribute to cardiovascular problems. GLA seems to have a beneficial effect on the human immune system as well, while PGE1 is also believed to play a role in protecting the liver and lowering blood pressure. The prostaglandin helps maintain gastrointestinal function, nerve conduction, insulin secretion and salt and water balance too.
While evening primrose oil is often prescribed to younger women for breast symptomatology and PMS, older individuals have also been found to often benefit immensely from the extract. It can ease symptoms in conditions as varied as asthma, certain allergies, autoimmune disorders, brittle hair and nails, skin disorders, and arthritic pain. Patients have been found to have a particularly good response when GLA is taken in combination with beta-carotene and vitamin E.
However, you will not see immediate results as it generally takes up to eight weeks to experience the benefits of additional GLA in your diet. Ensure the label on the bottle states that the oil has been cold pressed and extracted without solvents.
The usual recommended dosage is 500 or 1,000 mg twice or thrice daily but a higher dosage may be prescribed for conditions like eczema, asthma and arthritis.
Side effects are negligible though some individuals may experience nausea but this can be circumvented by consuming it along with food. A small percentage of patients may also see acne or a mild skin rash. However, the herbal extract may exacerbate epilepsy and those taking anti-seizure medications should avoid it. Do check with your physician before starting on course of evening primrose oil or any other herbal or plant extract.
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