December 2021 | Eurobio


We often hear about the needs and benefits of incorporating essential fatty acids in a healthy balanced diet, which includes omega-6 fatty acids. Many of us know that omega-6 fatty acids can be obtained from consuming the oil of a little yellow flower, so what is this yellow flower and how does it gain its popularity? 

What is Evening Primrose Oil?

Evening primrose (Oenothera biennisis a plant native to North and South America. It is a plant with yellow flower that also grows throughout Europe and parts of Asia. Evening primrose plant has many uses as it can either be consumed orally or applied topically. In the earlier days, Native Americans appreciate the value of this plant by making poultices from the evening primrose plant to treat several skin conditions, such as bruises and minor wounds. The stem and leaf juices were often used as topical remedies for skin inflammation. As for oral remedies, the leaves were used to help with gastrointestinal discomforts and sore throats. 

Evening primrose oil is obtained by extraction from the seeds of the evening primrose plant, and is rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids including gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It is often used to make medicine or supplements. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids and are necessary for human health as part of a healthy balanced diet. However, our body cannot make them therefore we have to obtain omega-6 essential fatty acids from food. 

Health Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil carries a lot of benefit to the human body. It is sometimes known for its use in the management of chronic inflammation such as atopic dermatitis and rheumatoid arthritis, but evening primrose oil is widely known and more commonly used for several women health hormone-related conditions.  

Management of Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome is a group of symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. It is associated with somatic, emotional and behavioral symptoms during the women’s menstrual cycle, such as: 

  • anxiety 
  • depression 
  • acne 
  • fatigue 
  • cyclical mastalgia 
  • irritable bowel syndrome 
  • headache 

GLA in evening primrose oil helps to promote prostaglandin synthesis and alleviates premenstrual syndrome. In one study conducted, two groups were given either GLA or placebo and evaluate their severity and duration of premenstrual syndrome. After three cycles, the severity and duration of the symptoms and irritability improved in the GLA group compared to the placebo group. Read more on managing premenstrual syndrome.

Management of Breast Pain

Breast pain is a common discomfort and anxiety for ladies in the reproductive ages. There are two types of breast pain, which are cyclical breast pain and noncyclic breast pain. Evening primrose oil can help to manage cyclical breast pain. 

Cyclical breast pain is linked to the menstrual cycle and the changing hormone levels.  It is often described as dull, heavy and achy pain that usually starts in the second half of the menstrual cycle then settles during the period.  It usually involves the upper outer breast area into the underarm. 

Most clinical trials on women alignments have focused on the efficacy of evening primrose oil in cyclical breast pain. The deficiency in GLA or its derivatives makes the breast tissues sensitive to sex hormones, which is associated with breast pain. Studies have shown that those who have consumed evening primrose oil have been known to feel significant relief of discomforting breast pain. 

Management of Menopausal Symptoms

Evening primrose oil is known to be useful in managing menopausal symptoms as well. Hot flush is one of the most commonly experienced menopausal symptoms. Evening primrose oil is often used to manage the frequency, severity and duration of hot flushes. 

Generally, evening primrose oil is considered safe and a good source of omega-6 fatty acids to include in our daily diet due to the needs of our body and its vast benefit to our health. 


  1. Mahboubi, Mohaddese. “Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) Oil in Management of Female Ailments.” Journal of menopausal medicine vol. 25,2 (2019): 74-82. doi:10.6118/jmm.18190 

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Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a plant found throughout United States, California, South America, Africa, Australia and Asia. Historically, milk thistle plays a role as a natural remedy to treat a range of health condition especially liver disorders such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, jaundice, gallbladder problems, diabetes, indigestion and other conditions.  

One of the active ingredients in milk thistle is called silymarin, which is extracted from the fruit of the plant. Silymarinis believed to have a mixture of active flavonolignans and flavonoids that displays scavenger and antioxidant properties and act against free radicals as well as having anti-inflammatory effect. This antioxidant activity of Silymarin can protect our liver from both acute and chronic toxicity and injury, which is why milk thistle may be beneficial for liver problems. 

Today, milk thistle is still used as a complementary treatment to help with chronic inflammatory liver diseases. 

Function of Our Liver 

Liver is a very important organ in our body. It is located under our rib cage and on the right side of our abdomen. Liver regulates most chemicals in the blood as all the blood leaving the stomach and intestine will pass through the liver. The liver will process this blood and breaks down, balances, and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic. This is why we often associate detoxification to liver function.  

There are various related health conditions that are related to poor detoxification of our liver, which may lead to liver related diseases such as alcoholic liver disease, hepatitis and fatty liver disease. 

Liver diseases can either be genetic or caused by a variety of factors that damage the liver such as toxins, viruses, alcohol use and obesity. Over time, these damages will lead to several conditions such as scarring of the liver, which can lead to liver failure. 

Role of Milk Thistle in Liver Health 

Milk thistle has been shown to play a role in the management of some of these related liver health conditions.  A few studies have shown that the benefits of silymarin on these conditions; to reduce inflammation and protect the liver, and to improve liver function. 

Alcoholic liver disease is a result of overconsuming alcohol that damages liver cells, which will lead to build up of fats, inflammation and scarring. One of the ways to help with alcoholic disease is to stop the intake of alcohol completely.  

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver. Inflammation happens when our liver tissues are injured or infected.  Alcohol consumption, several health conditions and some medication might cause inflammation of the liver. Viral infections are the most common cause of hepatitis, such as Hepatitis B and C. Chronic hepatitis can lead to complication such as scarring of the liver, liver failure or even liver cancer.  

Fatty liver disease is a common condition caused by the storage of extra fat in the liver. In most cases, fatty liver disease will not cause any symptoms as the liver can still function normally. However if left uncorrected, the disease will worsen over time and might lead to inflammation and scarring of the liver tissue. Being overweight, having type II diabetes and having high cholesterol will increase the risk of you getting fatty liver disease.  

Lifestyle tips for a healthy liver 

The best way to fight a disease is to avoid it. Here are a few tips to keep your liver healthy. 

  • Maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss can play an important part in reducing liver fat. 
  • Eat a well-balanced diet 
  • Exercise regularly to burn off the fat storage in our body 
  • Limit your intake of alcohol. Alcoholic drinks can damage our liver cells and scar our liver. 

In general, milk thistle is a beneficial complementary treatment option alongside with the other conventional treatment. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before starting to use milk thistle or any other supplement. 


  1. Gobalakrishnan, S., Asirvatham, S. S., &Janarthanam, V. (2016). Effect of Silybin on Lipid Profile in Hypercholesterolaemic Rats. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 10(4), FF01–FF5. 
  2. Abenavoli, L., Capasso, R., Milic, N., &Capasso, F. (2010). Milk thistle in liver diseases: past, present, future. Phytotherapy Research, 24(10), 1423–1432. doi:10.1002/ptr.3207 

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