Menopause Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is becoming very popular for the treatment of menopause symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, anxiety, fluid retention, irritability, and breast tenderness.
These are more or less the classical signs of PMS which are also common in Peri-Menopause.
The use of menopause Evening Primrose Oil for hot flashes is not as common. Several studies have looked into using EPO for hotflashes but could not find any significant benefit.
The oil is often used in lotions, creams and soaps because of its benefits for the skin.
What is Menopause Evening Primrose Oil?
The Evening Primrose is a Native American wildflower (Oenothera biennis) with very fragrant flowers that open in late afternoon and evening. The oil is extracted from the seeds and is sold as oil or in capsules.
The active compound is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) one of the essential fatty acids. Evening Primrose Oil is not the only source of GLA. Other oils such as borage oil and black currant oil have actually more GLA, but Evening Primrose Oil is by far the most common source of this fatty acid.
Essential fatty acids are very important for a variety of processes in the body and must be provided through diet or supplements.
It is important to have enough GLA because it acts as messengers between cells and regulates functions such as hormone production and proper function of hormones, which is very important for women in menopause.
Women’s Health and MenopauseEvening Primrose Oil Benefits
Evening Primrose Oil is gaining in popularity for the treatment of common peri-menopause symptoms such as mood swings, headaches, anxiety, fluid retention, irritability, breast tenderness and hot flashes. For women in menopause, Evening Primrose Oil is beneficial for the prevention of Osteoporosis, when used together with calcium and fish oil.
Some small studies that looked into the effectiveness for the overall treatment of PMS symptoms showed no significant symptom relief. However the studies were not well designed, so the jury is still out.
Other Medicinal Uses
There have been some studies that researched the use of Evening Primrose Oil for the treatment of Cyclical Mastitis (the tender and lumpy breast some women experience prior to their period) and Fibrocystic breast disease. Results have shown some positive effects.
Other than for the treatment of symptoms of PMS and menopause, Evening Primrose Oil is used to treat skin diseases (such as eczema), rheumatoid arthritis and neuropathy as well as some other conditions. The results of the scientific research regarding the effectiveness of these treatments are mixed.
Recommended Dosages for Menopause Evening Primrose Oil
As it is true for most herbal remedies, EPO must be taken for several weeks before symptom relief can be felt. Reaching maximum benefits may take several months.
The standard dose is 3,000mg per day, divided in smaller doses throughout the day. Some resources recommend up to 8,000mg per day for adults. Most supplement labels recommend a maximum dosage of 4,000 mg/day.
Many women have successfully tried the following regimen for the treatment of PMS symptoms which may be beneficial for peri-menopausal women as well: take 3,000 mg containing 12% GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) daily for the first 12 weeks to rebuild your GLA stores and then take 1,000 mg as a maintenance dose.
This oil should be standardized to contain at least 8% gamma-linolenic acid, have a freshness date and be packaged in a light-blocking container. It is best kept in the refrigerator.
Always take (Menopause) Evening Primrose Oil with food to avoid upset stomachs and other gastrointestinal side-effects. It is also recommended to take it together with Vit E for better results and to counter some substances that are generated when Evening Primrose Oil is metabolized in the body.
Side Effects and Interactions
Evening Primrose Oil is well tolerated and safe if used as recommended. Allergic reactions are rare but possible, as are gastrointetestinal problems. Always take with food if taken as a supplement.
Pregnant and breast-feeding women should not take EPO as it has not been studied in this population. People on anti-psychotic medications or any medications that treat mental illness should not take EPO because of potential drug interactions. It is not recommended for people with seizure or bleeding disorders.
As always be safe and check with your health care provider before starting to take any herbs and supplements.