Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is also known as Fever plant. Its botanical name comes from the Greek «Oïnos» (wine) and «Ther» (wild animal). An old legend attributed this plant the capacity of domesticating wild animals if it had been previously macerated in wine.
Evening primrose and its seeds have been used for centuries by American Indians. They used it as infusion to heal wounds, skin problems or even asthma. Evening primrose appears in Europe for the first time in the 18th century.
This plant landed in Europe growing in the areas around ports and docks, where earth was unloaded. Later, it spread from there little by little throughout Europe. Initially, it was planted to decorate enbankments and railways. It was only later when it started to be used for its therapeutic properties.At the same time, the American Indians used the strong scent of this plant: they rubbed their shoes with it in order to conceal their own odour before going hunting. This way, they were able to come very close to their prey.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
The valuable evening primrose oil is obtained through first cold-pressing from the seeds of evening primrose. This oil is extremely rich in essential fatty acids. Evening primrose oil contains basically linoleic acid and gamma-linolenic acid. They are named essential because our body cannot produce them by itself, but must take them with what we eat.
These fatty acids play fundamental roles in our body: they provide energy, are important components of the myelin sheath covering neurons, participate in keeping body temperature, are part of cell structures and are vital for metabolism. In addition to that, very important molecules called prostaglandins are derived from them.
PROPERTIES OF EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Prostaglandins, biologically very active substances, are found in nearly all types of cells and are vital regulators that contribute to maintaining the function of different organs. Prostaglandins, for example, are essential in hemostasis (a defence mechanism to stop bleeding).
The prostaglandin derived from evening primrose oil (or from other foods rich in linoleic and linolenic acids, like seed oils, nut oils, oily fish oils, etc.) has the following properties:
- It regulates lacrimal secretion and saliva seccretion.
- It contributes to normal functioning of the immune system.
- It controls skin fat formation.
- It hinders the production of inflammatory substances.
- It partakes in transmission of nerve impulses, regulates the release and action of neurotransmitters (messengers of neurologic information)
- It regulates the effects of female hormones in the menstrual cycle .
EVENING PRIMROSE & PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME
Countless pieces of research and experiments carried out in different countries in the last 20 to 30 years show the effectiveness, without any side effects, of evening primrose in treating the premenstrual syndrome. This period is hard to put up with, as its symptoms are very unpleasant: abdominal bloating, prolonged bleeding time and heavy flow of blood, headaches, vomiting, feeling bloated in general, irritability and mood swings, anxiety, depression …