Although evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) is an herbal remedy that's most known for its effects on treating premenstrual syndrome, mastalgia (breast pain) and menopausal symptoms in women, the herb also has important benefits for men. Many medical studies have been conducted around the world on the uses of evening primrose for treating a wide range of different conditions in both men and women. Evening primrose is typically taken as an extracted oil or in capsules.
Evening primrose's contains concentrations of gamma linolenic acid, or "GLA," which is "a fatty acid that the body converts to a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1)," says the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS). Men and women with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes may have a metabolic problem that prevents the body from making GLA, explains the UMHS. Evening primrose oil may also reduce symptoms related to diabetic neuropathy, a nerve problem caused by diabetes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).
Men with eczema and other skin conditions may be GLA deficient, so taking evening primrose oil can benefit them, the UMHS says. The UMMC cites a study of more than 1,200 patients with eczema and dermatitis that found evening primrose oil helped to ease itching, edema, crusting and redness. Other studies have found evening primrose oil to be helpful for treating allergy-related skin rashes and hives.
Like men with diabetes or eczema, alcoholics also tend to be GLA-deficient and can benefit from taking evening primrose oil, especially during the withdrawal period, the UMHS says. The UMHS cites a double-blind study that also discovered that evening primrose oil supplements aided in improving liver function while the participants were undergoing a detoxification program. The subjects took 4 grams per day of evening primrose oil containing 360 mg of GLA. The Herb Growing & Marketing Network also notes a study conducted by the Highland Psychiatric Research Group at the Draig Dunain Hospital in Scotland that discovered that evening primrose oil helped to regenerate damaged liver cells in alcoholics.
Men with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from taking evening primrose oil, because the GLA content that converts into PGE1 produces anti-inflammatory effects, according to the UMHS. The UMHS points out a double-blind clinical trial that discovered positive effects for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers from taking evening primrose oil with fish oil. The Herb Growing & Marketing Network cites a study at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary of Scotland in which 60 percent of the subjects with rheumatoid arthritis who took evening primrose oil combined with fish oil instead of their regular medications experienced great improvement. The UMMC points out that these clinical trials have yielded inconsistent results and don't provide enough evidence surrounding the use of evening primrose oil for treating arthritis, however.
Heart Disease, Atherosclerosis and COPD
Evening primrose can be used in treating heart disease, atherosclerosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or "COPD," according to the UMMC and UMHS. In a double-blind study, taking 3 to 4 grams per day of evening primrose oil lowered cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, the UMHS says. GLA is an anticoagulant that researchers believe can reduce blood pressure, protect against coronary artery disease and prevent heart attacks, according to the Herb Growing & Marketing Network.
ADHD and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Evening primrose supplements may help men with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or "ADHD," and chronic fatigue syndrome, says the UMMC. The Herb Growing & Marketing Network highlights a medical study that found that two-thirds of hyperactive children experienced improvements from taking evening primrose oil.
The omega-6 fatty acids found in evening primrose oil can benefit men with multiple sclerosis, or "MS." The UMHS notes several double-blind clinical trials that found patients who took four grams per day of evening primrose oil for three weeks experienced improvement in gripping function in their hands. The GLA content in the evening primrose oil also lowered the length and severity of MS relapses, the researchers found.