What are the Most Common Evening Primrose Oil Side Effects?

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  • Written By: D. Waldman
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2018
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The most common evening primrose oil side effects are headache and nausea, although stomach pains and diarrhea may also occur and often indicate the dosage being taken is higher than needed. While studies have shown that animals given evening primrose oil experienced a drop in blood pressure, this does not seem to be the case for humans.

Evening primrose oil is commonly used to treat a variety of skin conditions, specifically eczema. It is also commonly recommended for individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or those experiencing pains in the breast. Menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are two other conditions whose symptoms the supplement is said to help alleviate, but studies have yet to show any significant findings in these areas.

Overall, the number of potential side effects from evening primrose oil are minimal. The headaches that may result form taking the supplement are often mild and tend to fade quickly. Nausea tends to occur when the supplement regimen is first started, and it usually only lasts for the first few days. If these particular symptoms last longer than expected or begin to worsen, individuals should consult a healthcare professional.


Other evening primrose oil side effects may be a warning sign that the individual should take less of the supplement. Loose stools and stomach cramps are reactions triggered by the gastrointestinal tract's inability to process larger quantities of the supplement. Most healthcare providers recommend starting with an average dose of 0.1 ounces (3 g) per day and slowly increasing the amount until improvement is noticed. Daily intake should not, however, exceed 0.28 ounces (8 g) per day.

Other side effects can be triggered by interactions with certain types of medications. Certain medications used to treat schizophrenia, particularly those in the phenothizine class of drugs, should never be mixed with evening primrose oil supplements, as this may cause seizures. Individuals taking any medications with blood-thinning effects, such as anticoagulants and anti-inflammatory drugs, should also avoid taking evening primrose oil.

Individuals looking to start taking the supplement should be aware of the fact that there are complications that can arise in individuals with other medical conditions. It should not be taken by individuals with diabetes or liver disease, as the sugar and alcohol content in the supplement tends to be somewhat high. There have also been cases of the supplement causing seizures; therefore, people who already have a history of seizures should avoid the using it as well. The supplement is also not recommended for pregnant mothers or those who are breastfeeding.


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Post 4

Does anyone know how long evening primrose oil stays good? I bought a bottle of this a couple years ago to use on my eczema. My eczema went away and the bottle now sits at the back of my shelf. I have some irritating skin spots again, and am wondering if it would still be good.

Post 3

I use evening primrose oil in a skin care product I mix up for myself. I mix a few drops of this oil along with olive oil and vitamin E and apply to my skin when it is really dry.

This is very moisturizing and my skin really soaks it up. It can leave a slightly greasy feeling, so I don't use it every day. If I did get in the habit of using it on a regular basis, I don't think my skin would be as dry. I know there are a lot of evening primrose oil benefits, but I have never taken it internally.

Post 2

I am one of those people who had side effects with evening primrose oil capsules. I too was hoping this would help with some female issues, but I ended up getting a bad headache.

It took me awhile to figure out what was causing the headaches. I already had headaches and the evening primrose supplements seemed to aggravate them. I have had to find other ways to deal with my symptoms.

It was kind of frustrating because headaches is one of the symptoms I was trying to alleviate, and the evening primrose seemed to make them worse. I was taking other supplements, but wasn't on any kind of prescription medications. I guess it is just one of those things that my body doesn't react very well to.

Post 1

My daughter lived in Europe for several years and on one visit home, she recommended I try evening primrose oil for my PMS symptoms. Her doctor overseas is actually the one who recommended she try it. Since she seemed to have good results with it, I decided to give it a try.

She told me it was important to start out with a small evening primrose oil dosage and gradually work my way up. I wondered if it was really helping until I stopped taking it for a few weeks. That is when I could really tell a difference. My PMS symptoms did not completely go away, but they were much more manageable.

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