Expeller pressing refers to the process of slowly breaking down evening primrose seeds under mechanical pressure, such as two rotating metal plates, to release the fats. Cold pressed means that the oil was expeller pressed at a low temperature. The low temperature prevents the oil from spoiling and helps it retain the beneficial properties of the plant, including plant sterols. The volatility of the valuable compounds being extracted make it a very delicate process that must be carried out in a narrow temperature range.
The amount of oil collected from the evening primrose seed is fairly low, but it is very valuable. The amount of oil collected is greatly increased by using a solvent such as hexane during the extraction process. The hexane is then removed under pressure at low temperatures. In an effort to remove the risk of exposure to solvent altogether, different companies have explored alternative methods. One is supercritical fluid extraction using carbon dioxide. This involves performing the oil extraction under carefully monitored temperature and pressure conditions, and using carbon dioxide to draw out the maximum amount of oil.
Uses In Ayurvedic And Chinese Medicine
Evening primrose oil is considered cooling and nourishing in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine system of India, making it useful for inflammatory conditions. It is used in eczema, allergies, autoimmune disease, and immune deficiencies. Both Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine recognize the value of evening primrose oil for managing the female reproductive cycles, and in Chinese medicine, it is used to move the blood and improve circulation.
Evening primrose oil is most sought after as an aid for women’s health, including breast cysts and pain, also called mastalgia, PMS, high blood pressure in pregnancy, facilitating labor and managing hot flashes in menopause. There is a need for larger trials to confirm its benefit in treatment, but the anti-inflammatory action of evening primrose support its traditional uses for these conditions.
Since the 1930s, researchers have believed that a deficiency of essential fatty acids (EFA) or an abnormality of EFA metabolism is at the root of eczema. People with eczema have lots of linoleic acid, but they may have trouble converting it to anti-inflammatory GLA. If that is true, it should be helpful to supplement with GLA-rich evening primrose oil. Studies have not consistently shown benefit, but it may be a matter of finding the right dose to use. It may be helpful at managing side effects from isotretinoin, an acne medication. More studies are needed to determine the efficacy.
Evening primrose oil has been found to help with pain and loss of nerve function associated with diabetic neuropathy. Results required taking a high dose of oil for six months, and worked better in people with well-regulated blood sugar. Evening primrose may also be helpful for managing blood sugar in women with gestational diabetes. More studies are needed. Because it assists circulation, there is interest in its ability to improve the symptoms of Raynaud’s disease, but again, more studies are needed.
Essential fatty acids have been studied for their ability to alleviate the pain of arthritis. The fats in evening primrose oil directly increase the amount of DGLA in the blood. DGLA is a strongly anti-inflammatory fat that should work to reduce pain and protect joints. Some studies are promising, but more evidence is needed before evening primrose can be recommended as a first line treatment for rheumatoid arthritis.
Evening primrose oil is used in cosmetic products such as soaps and lotions. It absorbs well into skin and softens it by infusing its beneficial oils. Topically, it is often used in conjunction with a carrier oil that improves the stability of evening primrose.
Native Americans used the leaves of evening primrose to make poultices for healing bruises and hemorrhoids. It was considered a remedy for rheumatism, paralysis, and gout. The whole plant prepared as a tea or tincture was used as a sedative for insomnia, restlessness and calming the lungs in congestions such as bronchitis. Its use for restlessness probably led to the modern suggestion that it is helpful for ADHD, but there is not yet enough research demonstrating that effect. It has also been used to help the body repair from the effects of too much alcohol.
More Facts About Evening Primrose Oil
Most evening primrose oil is sold in capsules. GLA is fairly unstable and goes rancid quickly, so look for products that have had an antioxidant, such as vitamin E added. Use manufacturers that you can trust. There are many examples of evening primrose oil being replaced in capsules by less expensive soy or safflower oil.
Allergies to evening primrose are rarely reported, but are possible. If you know you have an allergy to evening primrose flowers or to GLA, do not use evening primrose topically or internally. Ask your doctor about testing for an allergy to evening primrose or other plants in the onagraceae family.
Evening primrose oil has been studied and found to be safe in children. It is not a common allergen, but if your child has an allergy to evening primrose or other plants in the onagraceae family, do not use evening primrose oil topically or internally as a nutritional supplement.
You would not use evening primrose oil for cooking. It is extremely unstable under any heat, but the plant is edible and nutritious. Young leaves can be added to salad, and the roots can be eaten. A carrier oil such as olive oil could be infused with evening primrose flowers to capture some of the properties of the plant. The oil could then be used just as you would use an olive oil.
Shelf life for primrose oil is very short! Kept under proper storage conditions, evening primrose oil will only last about six months. Vitamin E is added to evening primrose oil to protect it from the oxidative stress that forms as oil begins to go rancid, extending its shelf life. Evening primrose oils need to be refrigerated, and when using it in preparations, it should be added after any step that involves heat.
Evening primrose oil is a good emollient, which means it is good at breaking down skin and softening it. Even so, the pores of the face can be more sensitive to clogging by thick oils. If you tend to have oily skin, evening primrose oil may be better used on other parts of the body.
Caution And Considerations
There has been some evidence that evening primrose will increase seizure activity. Do not use evening primrose, evening primrose oil, or evening primrose essential oil if you have epilepsy or are prone to seizures of any kind.
Evening primrose may increase bleeding, so do not use if you have a bleeding or clotting disorder, are on anti-clotting medications or are undergoing surgery.
Evening primrose oil can cause some stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, loose stools or headaches.
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