Evening primrose oil is a popular herbal remedy for PMS and menstrual problems. It is made from the seeds of the evening primrose plant, which are rich in gamma-linolenic acid.
The evening primrose is native to North America, and native peoples have been using the plant medicinally for thousands of years.
Gamma-linolenic acid is an essential fatty acid which studies have shown has a number of health benefits. Among these, it has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of menopausal symptoms and mastalgia. Evidence for relief of PMS is more patchy, but many women report that evening primrose oil works very well for this purpose.
Evening primrose oil has been widely studied for its beneficial effects on eczema and dermatitis, where there is strong evidence that it can provide relief.
It is also thought to help slow down the joint damage which occurs in rheumatoid arthritis, and to potentially help to treat diabetic neuropathy, or numbness in the feet and legs.
Evening primrose supplements are widely available in tablet or capsule format. They are often combined with starflower oil; together the two oils are thought to maximise the benefits for PMS sufferers and women undergoing the menopause.