Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose

Evening primrose, Oenothera biennis, is native to North Americas but grows wild in Europe. Its seeds contain the important fatty acid gamma-Linoleic acid (GLA).

FAMILY

Onagraceae

OTHER NAMES

Suncup, Sundrop

BOTANIC CHARACTERISTICS

Evening primrose, as the name suggests, blooms in the evening and is, therefore, pollinated by nocturnal insects. The flowers are yellow and scented. The seeds are the plant part traditionally used medicinally. A one-hectare field yields about 1600 kg seeds which are cold pressed to extract the oil.

CULTIVATION

Evening primrose grows very well in deep and sandy soils where it can grow deep, straight roots.

HARVEST

Harvest the seeds from September to October when they are fully ripe (hard and black). Pestle them when needed and sprinkle on food.

CONSTITUENTS

Polyunsaturated fat (up to 80%), linoleic acid (71.5%), gamma-linolenic acid (9%),palmitic acid (6.5%), oleic acid, stearic acid, myristic acid, arachidic acid, palmitoleic acid

PROPERTIES

Anti-inflammatory, immunoprotective

MEDICINAL USE OF EVENING PRIMROSE

Evening primrose contains fatty acids (up to 70% and 10-25%) that are anti-inflammatory and immunoprotective. One of these acids, gamma-linolenic acid, helps regulate the circulatory system, blood pressure, immune system, insulin and cholesterol. Improper diet, stress, aging process, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol, sedentary life, virus infections can lead to a decline in the body’s production of gamma-linoleic acid. A deficiency in gamma-linoleic acid can lead to inflammation, infections and allergies. Gamma-linoleic acid is present in the seeds of Evening Primrose, borage and black currants as well as in the human milk.

Take internally and externally for:

  • Neurodermatitis
  • Allergic asthma
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Blood circulation problems
  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Improving dry and aging skin
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome (debatable)
HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • Salves (fatty oil)
  • Creams (fatty oil)
  • Lotions (fatty oil)
  • Baths (fatty oil)
  • Infusion (flowers)
  • Powder (seeds)
SIDE EFFECTS

When taken internally, Evening primrose can seldom cause nausea, digestive problems, headaches and skin rash.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

Not safe for people with epilepsy and children younger than one year old.

CULINARY USE

The roots of Evening primrose are full of flavor in the first year. You can roast them or eaten them raw (when freshly harvested), cook them for 20 minutes in broth or add them to soups and stews as you would carrots. Prepare the young, fresh leaves like spinach or eat them raw in a salad. Perfume your salads by adding the flowers as edible decoration. Pestle the seeds in a morsel and sprinkle them on food.

Evening Primrose

References
Bühring, U. 2015. Alles über Heilpflanzen. 3rd ed. Stuttgart: Ulmer.

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