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Evening Primrose Oil for Acne: Does it Work?

Evening Primrose Oil for Acne

Evening Primrose Oil 

Many people think that having pimples and blackheads is a part of growing up, but in severe cases, acne can leave deep physical and emotional scars. Fortunately, there are many ways to treat acne. You can go to your dermatologist who can prescribe medications. You can even undergo medical procedures such as chemical peels, light therapy, and steroid injections.

But there are also natural ways to treat acne. You can take herbal supplements that mitigate or even treat acne flare-ups. One of the best known natural treatments for acne is evening primrose oil.

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a time-honored remedy for sore throat, hemorrhoids, rosacea, skin inflammation, wounds and other ailments. It comes from the seed of the evening primrose plant, which is a member of the Onagraceae family. Recently, evening primrose oil has been found to be effective in treating acne and healing scars.

How Evening Primrose Oil Works to Help Treat Acne

Evening primrose oil is rich in gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid. GLA is converted into prostaglandins. As you probably know, hormonal imbalance is one of the main causes of acne. The prostaglandin converted from GLA regulates hormones which makes you less prone to acne breakouts.

Because it helps regulate hormones, EPO is also an effective treatment for cystic acne, a severe skin condition caused by hormonal imbalance. It also has anti-inflammatory properties.

EPO also dilutes sebum, the oily substance naturally produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands to protect itself from dryness. When sebum is diluted, it is less likely to clog your pores and cause acne.

How to Use Evening Primrose Oil for Acne Treatment

EPO is often sold in capsule or softgel form for oral intake. The recommended dose is 1,000 mg three times a day with food. This will provide your body with 240 mg of GLA every day. EPO also comes in liquid form for topical use. Every bottle should be kept refrigerated as the oil can quickly go rancid. You can also extract oil from a soft capsule. Simply poke the capsule with a disinfected pin or needle and squeeze out the oil.

Depending on the severity of your acne, it takes about four weeks of religiously taking an EPO supplement before you notice any positive effects. While it’s possible to see signs of improvement sooner, don’t expect an immediate effect.

Make sure to steer clear of unhealthy processed foods while you’re trying to treat your acne with EPO. No matter what you do, your acne won’t clear up if you keep eating fatty and sugary foods.

You can also use EPO as a topical treatment. You may use liquid EPO in a bottle or simply extract the oil from a capsule. Apply it gently onto affected areas before going to bed at night. When you wake up in the morning, wash it off with a mild cleanser and gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel.

Acne Scar Treatment

One of the worst things about having acne is that the lesions leave unsightly scars that last long after your acne has cleared up. When your skin lacks elasticity, you’ll be prone to scarring. The GLA in EPO makes your skin more elastic and supple. It reduces old scars and makes new ones fade faster.

To use EPO for acne scars, gently massage the oil onto affected areas until it’s fully absorbed by the skin. Use it before going to bed.

Side Effects of Evening Primrose Oil

While EPO is a natural acne treatment that is generally safe, it does have some side effects. Always consult a doctor before taking any kind of supplement as it could interact with any medication you might be taking. Besides, every person’s reaction to supplements varies and you need to make sure that each supplement you’re going to take is right for you.

Here are some known side-effects of EPO:

  • EPO is a blood thinner. It may increase your risk of bleeding if you have bleeding disorders. Do not take it with other blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin, heparin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), naproxen, supplements with garlic, ginger or clove, and others.
  • If you’re taking other medications, ask your doctor whether it’s safe for you to take EPO.
  • It also decreases blood pressure. Do not take EPO with antihypertensive drugs or any supplement that lowers blood pressure.
  • It may cause stomachaches and bloating, but only 2% of people who use EPO experience this side effect.
  • Very rarely, it causes allergic reactions to people who are sensitive to GLA or plants belonging to the Onagraceae family. If EPO causes skin inflammation and itchiness, discontinue use.

Other Benefits of Primrose Oil

EPO doesn’t just treat acne. Because it is rich in GLA, it also has a host of health benefits. Here are some of the reported health benefits of EPO that are worth knowing:

  1. It relieves the symptoms of PMS. Some women report that a daily intake of about three grams of EPO can relieve symptoms such as irritability, depression, breast tenderness, and water retention.
  2. It supports conception. The recommended dose is 1,500 to be taken on the first day of the menstrual cycle until ovulation. However, pregnant women should not take EPO as it puts them at risk for pregnancy complications.
  3. It treats other skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and atopic dermatitis.
  4. It relieves joint pain and inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
  5. It prevents diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage).
  6. It reduces inflammation associated with lupus.
  7. It prevents alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  8. It slows down the aging process.
  9. It nourishes hair, scalp, and nails.
  10. It helps with osteoporosis. Combined with calcium, it has been found to help increase bone mineral density and decrease bone turnover.

Tips and Guidelines when using EPO

  • Make sure that you’re buying EPO from a reliable vendor. Some products are either combined or substituted with cheaper oils such as safflower and soy.
  • Taking EPO with food helps you absorb it well and reduces some of its unpleasant side effects.
  • Take EPO with a high quality vitamin supplement. Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium help your body convert EPO into GLA properly.
  • Vitamin E slows the breakdown of GLA. Look for Vitamin E-enhanced products.