Does Evening Primrose Help PMS Symptoms

PMS is a common condition that occurs during a womans monthly cycle. The most common symptoms being mood swings, breast pain and fatigue. The increased irritability can greatly impact quality of life. Evening Primrose oil is often touted as being effective to relieve some of the worst symptoms, but the question is of course, does evening primrose oil actually work for PMS?

How Does Evening Primrose Oil Work?

Evening primrose oil is rich in a few fatty acids particularly linoleic acid (60%-80%) and gamma-linolenic acid (8%-14%). These omega-6 fatty acids are often thought to be the reason that it works for PMS.

Gama-linolenic acid as a precursor for something called prostaglandin E1 synthesis. Prostaglandins play a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes in the body including inflammation and hormonal balance.

Clinical Trials Evening Primrose Oil and PMS

Numerous clinical studies have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of evening primrose oil in managing PMS symptoms.

An older meta analysis reviewed seven high quality placebo-controlled trials found that evening primrose oil was safe for use in PMS, but the small sample sizes limited definitive conclusions about its effectiveness. At the time this was the best sample group. It did generally show that it was effective in most of said trials.

There have been some more recent trials that have better sample sizes. Notably a double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Women with PMS were given a daily dose of 180 mg of gamma-linolenic acid or a placebo for three luteal phases. The results showed that the group receiving gamma-linolenic acid experienced significant improvements in symptom severity and duration compared to the placebo group.

And a further study of 80 women with severe mood swings with PMS showed that after three months of supplements the group receiving evening primrose oil showed a significant reduction in PMS severity scores compared to the placebo group.

Management of Mastalgia with Evening Primrose Oil

Looking at breast pain Evening primrose oil the best study was of 100 women with moderate to severe mastalgia. They were divided into two groups: one receiving 100 mg of oral danazol and the other receiving 500 mg of evening primrose oil twice daily for three months. The results showed no significant difference between the two groups in terms of symptom improvement meaning that it was as effective as the artificial treatment.


Generally speaking there are a couple of studies that do seem to show that evening primrose is effective for mood swings and breast tenderness. Whilst more studies would need to be done to say it’s definitively effective, there’s enough evidence to say that it’s promising as a natural supplement.

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