The evening primrose is also called the night willow herb. This plant has a yellow blossom and mainly grows in North America and Europe. Most of the flowering plants blossom with the sunrise but this plant opens its petals in the evening.
The seeds of this plant are used to extract oil. It is commonly used as a topical treatment, health supplement and as a beauty product. This oil helps to balance the hormone levels, reduce inflammation and have antioxidant properties. It is also used to minimize the hair loss but there is not much research that confirms this.
Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acid which helps to fight oxidative stress, reduce inflammation and boosts cell growth. So, it helps to control the hair loss that is caused by sun exposure, nutrient deficiency or inflammation of the scalp.
It contains phytoestrogens which can improve the symptoms that are related to hormonal changes like menopause. Hair loss is a very common symptom of menopause and EPO can help in controlling that.
What do researchers say about EPO and hair loss
There is not enough research done on using Evening primrose oil for hair growth and improving the overall health of the hair. But there is research done on how certain ingredients or the chemical compounds that are found in EPO affect the quality of the hair.
Though it gives us some insight into this, it requires more research to clarify the effect of EPO on the health of the hair.
Promotes new hair growth
Like other oils extracted from plants, EPO oil contains arachidonic acid. This helps to promote the growth of new hair and help the existing strands of hair to grow longer.
Reduce scalp inflammation and damage of the hair follicle
EPO oil contains omega fatty acid which has Gamma linoleic acid (LGA) present in it. This ingredient has anti-inflammatory properties.
This is study as a therapy for inflammatory conditions like atopic dermatitis. But there is no proper research done on GLA and scalp inflammation.
Several types of researches also suggest that there are sterols in EPO that help in reducing inflammation.
Reduce oxidative stress
You put a lot of different stress on your hair in the form of products and heat. This can cause worse alopecia-related hair loss. To treat this you should use EPO as it is rich in antioxidant vitamin E which helps in reducing the oxidative stress.
A 2010 research study showed that taking oral vitamin E supplements helps in improving the symptoms of alopecia. People who take higher vitamin E supplements have a larger volume of hair on the scalp then the ones who take placebos. This suggests that EPO can help to protect the hair follicles and keep them active as well as healthy.
How to use EPO?
You can either apply EPO or consume it orally or you can do both the things. But remember, essential oil of evening primrose is different from EPO. Essentials oils are a lot stronger and give aromas that are used in aromatherapy.
If you are experiencing hair loss due to inflammation then anecdotal evidence favors the topical application of EPO.
If your hair loss is due to hormonal changes then you should take supplements as they are more beneficial for such condition than topical application.
Supplements are not approved by the FDA the way drugs are. SO, you should buy them only from trusted manufacturers. You should also consult a doctor and find out the risks and side effects involved with them.
It is best to take EPO supplements with a meal. the average dose is 500 mg per day. If you are taking a dose higher than this than you should check it with the doctor if your dosage is correct before further taking it.
If you are new to this supplement then you should start taking a lower dose of it and gradually increase your dose so that your body adapts to it. In case, you have an upset stomach or feel like nausea then you should reduce your dose or stop taking this supplement.
You do not need to dilute EPO like other essential oils. But, you should do a skin test to check if your skin is not allergic to it.
If you are using evening primrose essential oil then you will have to dilute it in a carrier oil before doing a patch test.
Here are the steps of doing a patch test:
- Take a drop of oil and rub it on the inside of your forearm.
- Cover that area with a bandage.
- If you do not experience any type of inflammation or irritation within 24 hours then it is safe to apply.
- If you do experience some irritation then immediately wash the area with cold water and do not use it as it does not suit your skin.
After you have successfully done a patch test you can move ahead with a full application on your scalp and the roots of the hair.
Below are the steps:
- Start with dry hair so it penetrates deep into your hair follicles.
- Rub the heat slightly by rubbing it between your palms before applying it to your head.
- Massage it in your scalp and deep into your hair.
- Leave it for 30 minutes and rinse it with a cream cleanser.
You can also mix the oil in your shampoo and wash your hair with it. Just make sure to massage it in your hair so it penetrates into your scalp and then rinse it properly.
Potential side effects and risks
EPO is usually safe if you are using it for a short duration. But it is not clear if it is safe to use it for a longer period.
So, you should consult your doctor before using it. Few people might experience some side effects.
You should not take EPO with consulting a doctor if you:
- are pregnant
- have epilepsy
- have schizophrenia
- taking blood-thinning medications
- have breast or ovarian cancer
- have surgery in the next 2 weeks
When to visit your dermatologist?
If you are experiencing sudden hair loss then you should see a dermatologist. They can have a look at your symptoms and based on it, suggest some treatment options. Though EPO is an option, you can try an alternative treatment option.
If you are experiencing any side effects with EPO then you should stop using it and have a word with your doctor. You should look out for accelerated hair loss, breakouts around your hairline or discoloration of the scalp.