Medical Attributes of Oenothera biennis - Evening
by Nicole Sheptock and Michael Yuhas
commonly called the evening primrose and belongs to the Onagaceae
(evening primrose family). The young evening primrose plant
consists of a green rosette, while older plants have an erect stem
measuring approximately 1m tall and bearing green lobed leaves
that are alternately arranged. The top of the stem has a spike of
yellow flowers and elongated capsules.Evening primrose is native to temperate
regions of North America, and is distributed throughout the United
States and lower Canada (plants.usda.gov, Singh et al. 2012).
evening primrose was used as an anti-inflammatory agent in the
treatments of rheumatoid arthritis and premenopausal pain (Singh
et al. 2012).Native
Americans were the first recorded culture to use this herb’s seeds
medicinally for healing bruises. Also the seeds were eaten for
their perceived nutritional value (umm.edu).
are the main therapeutic constituents found in this species.They are used as
inflammation mediators and serve to decrease nitric oxide
production in experimental macrophages (Montserrat-de la Paz et
acid, which is needed in the human body to undergo normal chemical
and hormone production, is also found in this herb.That
compound aids in treating hot flushes and sweating associated with
menopause (Chenoy et al. 1994).Polyphenols in seed extracts of the evening primrose have
antioxidant activity (Matsumoto-Nakano et al. 2011).
studies investigated its effects on inflammatory diseases found
some positive results.In
vitro experiments conducted by Montserrat-de la Paz et al.
(2012) and Singh et al. (2012) found that the oils reduced
inflammatory mediators like nitrous oxide.Additional in vitro tests further
indicated that primrose oil suppressed inflammation via activity
on lypoxygenase (Granica et al. 2013). Primrose oil is used to
treat various inflammatory diseases of the skin such as eczema
atopic dermatitis. However, there is little support for the
efficacy of primrose oil in successfully treating these conditions
(Stonemetz 2008 and Bamford et al. 2013). A clinical study
conducted by Gehring (1999) found that primrose was effective
against dermatitis but only when used with water-in-oil emulsion.
Primrose oil has cancer treating effects, the effect of which is
based either through radical scavenging or inflation inhibition or
increase of white blood cells and activation of tumor suppressor
genes (Hamburger et al. 2002, Granica et al. 2013, Zeg et al.
2013). The anti-inflammatory properties of primrose were seen to
improve multiple sclerosis by inhibiting cytokines
is also used to treat mastalgia premenstrual and pregnancy
problems, though the effectiveness is not established. A clinical
study by Dove and Johnson (2012) not show any effective results on
pregnancy and labor time in women. However, the drug synthesized
from evening primrose Femicomfort
was shown to relieve PMS symptoms in a clinical study of forty-two
women lasting six months (Kashani et al. 2010). An increase in the dose
of another drug derived from evening primrose, IOVE, did not cause an
increase in menstrual symptom relief suggesting possibly that the
other active ingredients in Femicomfort may have caused its success (Cancelo et
et al. (2009) found benefits to cardiovascular health with evening
primrose oil in which an in
vivo experiment determined it anti-platelet anti-coagulant
properties. Another study found that primrose oil lowered LDL
cholesterol in patients suffering from hypercholesterolemia (Gupta
et al. 2012).Controlled
studies show this herb effectively treats multiple sclerosis and
dermatitis inflammation (Stonemetz 2008 and Bamford et al. 2013).
excess primrose oil can lead to a few adverse effects. Taking it
longer than a year, increases the risk of inflammation, thrombosis
and immunosuppression. Additionally taking primrose oil with
coumadin may increase bleeding (Bamford et al., 2013).
is found to be most effective when used for treating individuals
dealing with inflammation. The herb also relieves PMS symptoms for
women (Kashani et al. 2010).As with any medication, herbal or synthetic, extracts of Oenothera biennis present
a few drawbacks to those individuals interested in taking those
compounds. Although numerous sources indicate the beneficial uses
of anti-inflammatory compounds within O. biennis, extended
dosages (more than a year) can lead to severe side effects
(Bamford et al., 2013).Interactions
between all medications need to be taken into consideration when
prescribing. In conclusion, Oenothera
biennis is found to be somewhat helpful medicinally.While some controlled
studies have found positive effects, others show no difference
between the herbal extract and the placebo given to individuals.
Bamford J., S. Ray, A. Musekiwa, C. van Gool, R. Humphreys, E.
Ernst. 2013. Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema. Cochrane
Database Syst Rev. 30.4:CD004416
Cancelo Hidalgo M., C. Castelo-Branco, J. Blumel, J. Lanchares
Perez, J. Alveros De Los Heros. 2006. Effect of a compound
containing isoflavones, primrose oil and vitamin E in two different
doses on climacteric symptoms. J Obstet Gynaecol 26(4):
Chenoy R., S. Hussain, Y. Tayob, P.M. O’Brein, M.Y. Moss, P.F.
Morse. 1994. Effect of oral primrose oil on menopausal flushing. BMJ
Dove D., and P. Johnson. 1999. Oral evening primrose oil: its effect
on length of pregnancy and selected intrapartum outcomes in low-risk
nulliparous women. J Nurse Midwifery 44(3): 320-4.
Gehring W., R. Bopp, F. Rippke, M. Gloor. 1999. Effect of topically
applied evening primrose oil on epidermal barrier function in atopic
dermatitis as a function of vehicle. Arzneimittelforschung
49 (7): 635-42.
Granica S., M. Czerwinska, J. Piwowarski, M. Ziaja, A. Kiss. 2013.
Chemical composition, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory activity
of extracts prepared from aerial parts of Oenothera biennis
L. and Oenothera paradoxa Hudziok obtained after seeds
cultivation. J Agric Food Chem 61(4): 801-10.
Gupta H., D. Pawar, A. Riva, E. Bambardelli, P. Morazonni. 2012. A
randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial to evaluate the
efficacy and tolerability of an optimized botanical combination in
the management of patients with primary hypercholesterolemia and
mixed dyslipidemia. Phytother Res. 26(2): 267-272.
Hamburger M., U. Riese, H. Graf, M. Melzig, S. Ciesielski, D.
Baumann, K. Dittman, C. Wegner. 2002. Constituents in evening
primrose oil with radical scavenging, cyclooxygenase and neutrophil
elastase inhibitory activities. J Agric Food Chem 50(20):
Kashani L., N. Saedi, S. Akhondzadeh. 2010. Femicomfort in the
treatment of premenstrual syndromes: a double blind, randomized and
placebo-controlled trial. Iran J Psychiatry 5(2): 47-50.
Matsumoto-Nakano M., M. Nagayama., H. Kitagori, S. Inagki., Y.
Takashima., M. Tamesada., S. Kawabata, T. Ooshima. 2011. Inhibitory
effects of Oenothera biennis seed extract on Streptococcus
mutans and S. mutans-induced dental caries in rats. Caries
Res 45(1): 56-63.
Montserrat-de la Paz S., F. Fernandez-Arche, M. Angel-Martin, M.D.
Garcia-Gimenez. 2012. The sterols isolated from evening primrose oil
modulate the release of proinflammatory mediators. Phytomedicine
Rezapour-Firouzi, S. Arefhosseini, M. Farhoudi, M.
Ebrahimi-Mamaghani, M. Rashidi, M. Torbati, B. Baradaran. 2013.
Association of expanded disability status scale and cytokines after
intervention with co-supplemented hemp seed, evening primrose oils
and hot-natured diet in multiple sclerosis patients. Bioimpacts
Riaz A., R. Khan, S. Ahmed. 2009. Assessment of anticoagulant effect
of evening primrose oil. Pak J Pharm Sci. 22(4): 355-9.
Singh R., P. Trivedi, D. Bawankule., A. Ahmad, K. Shanker.
2012. HILIC quantification of oenotheralanosterol A and B from
Oenothera biennis and their suppression of IL-6 and TNF-α
expression in mouse macrophages. J Ethnopharmacol 141(1):
Stonemetz D. 2008. A review of the clinical efficacy of evening
primrose. Holist Nurs Pract 22(3): 171-4.
Zeng G., Y. Ju, N. Zhou, L. Huang. 2013. Immunopotentiating
activities of the purified polysaccharide from evening primrose in
H22 tumor-bearing mice. International Journal of Biol Macromol.
Zieve D. and D.Eitz. 2013. Evening Primrose Oil. University of
Maryland Medical Center. N.p., Web. 30 June 2013. This paper was developed as part of the BIO 368 - Medical Botany
course offered at Wilkes University during the summer of 2013.
Course instructor was Kenneth M. Klemow, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The information contained herein is based on published sources, and
is made available for academic purposes only. No warrantees,
expressed or implied, are made about the medical usefulness or
dangers associated with the plant species in question.