An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Evening Primrose - Oenothera biennis - family: Onagraceae (Evening Primrose Family).

This annual or biennial plant grows to about five feet high. It has toothed lance-shaped leaves. In the summer it produces large scented bowl-shaped yellow flowers which open in the evening. The flowers are followed by capsules (fruits) that enclose many tiny seeds. Traditional Native American use of leaves, stems and roots as a food source. American folk use of roots as a cooked vegetable. Traditional Native American use of seeds as a remedy for menstrual problems and pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). Traditional Native American use of roots in a poultice for bruises. The seeds are compressed to yield evening primrose oil. This oil is a modern American folk remedy for asthma, attention deficit disorder, coughs, digestive problems, eczema, coronary heart disease, coughs and multiple sclerosis. Modern American folk use of oil as a possible remedy for atherosclerosis, attention deficit disorder (ADD), Alzheimer's disease, lupus, prostate problems, osteoporosis, vaginal yeast infections and for treating the discomforts of menopause. Primrose oil may possibly help slow down the aging process and may be useful in dealing with memory loss. The essential oil may also be useful in the treatment of diabetes and diabetic neuropathy (a loss of feeling in extremities such as toes). Evening primrose oil contains a substance called gamma-linoleic acid (GLA). GLA has been found recently to be useful in the treatment of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis. Note: do not use during menstruation periods: it may increase the flowrate. Note: may interfere with the action of anti-coagulation prescription drugs. Note: do not take if you have epilepsy. Native to eastern and central North America. Naturalized in California. Cultivated as an ornamental in North America.



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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.