Evening Primrose (Yue Jian Cao)
Botanical Name: Oenothera biennis
Evening primrose oil is made from the seed of the plant. It is popularly used to treat a wide variety of ailments including: premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause symptoms such as hot flashes. It is also used to treat a variety of skin disorders from acne to eczema. The seeds contain high levels of fatty acids that are known to help decrease inflammation related to such conditions as arthritis and eczema. The leaves, flowers, and roots are all edible.
Below is an overview of Evening Primrose (Yue Jian Cao), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Evening Primrose (Yue Jian Cao).
Western Name: Evening Primrose
Also Known As: Fever Plant, Kings-Cure-All, Night Willow-Herb, Scurvish, Tee Primrose, Sun Drop, Suncups
Organs/Systems: Uterus, Nervous System, Endocrine System, Heart, Immune System, Skin
Key Actions: Astringent, Analgesic, Anti-inflammatory, Anticoagulant, Estrogenic, Anodyne, Antidepressant, Sedating
Medicinal Uses: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), hot flashes, eczema, acne, psoriasis, neurodermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, Sjorgren’s syndrome, cancer, high cholesterol, heart disease, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue, asthma, nerve damage due to diabetes, obesity, weight loss, whooping cough, ulcerative colitis, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), peptic ulcers, osteoporosis, pre-eclampsia, starting labor, shortening labor, preventing late deliveries, breast pain, endometriosis.
Pin Yin: Yue Jian Cao
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Kidney, Liver, Heart
Key Actions: Moves Blood, Tonifies Yin, Tonifies the Liver, Reduces Pain, Soothes Skin
Medicinal Uses: Infertility, premenstrual Syndrome including cramping, mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness, excessive bleeding, menopausal disorders including hot flashes and depression. The herb is used to treat headaches, acne, psoriasis, eczema.
Evening primrose is a hardy biennial herb that can grow to be six feet tall. The showy flowers appear in the second year and bloom in the evening and at night. The flowers are bright yellow. Some varieties produce white, purple or pink flowers. All flowers have four petals and 8 stamens.
Evening primrose is native to the temperate climates of North America and is now found in Europe and parts of Asia. It likes dry, open soils along roads, railroads, and fields. The plant was brought to Europe by early settlers returning from North America. There are several species in the Oenothera family, including a few species native to Europe, Mexico, and Chile, do not confuse them with the yellow-flowered native of North America (Oenothera biennis).
Parts Most Frequently Used: Seed Oil, The Entire Plant is Edible, Leaves, Roots
Flavors/Temps: Leaves – Slightly Pungent, Slightly Sweet, Neutral, Astringent. Roots – Sweet, Pungent, Warm. Oil – Sweet, Neutral.
Caution: Generally considered safe.
History/Folklore: Native Americans boiled and ate the root. They used a poultice made from the leaves to treat bruises and hemorrhoids. The plant is still used as a food. The leaves and flowers can be added to salads, and the roots eaten as a vegetable. The oil from the leaves and seeds can be used in creams and balms to relieve itching, red and inflamed skin conditions, such as eczema and acne.
The cooked roots are nutritious and have a sweet and slightly peppery taste, resembling parsnips. The young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked, though not in large quantities, and some sources recommend you not eat them as they are mucilaginous and more medicinal in nature. The edible flowers are sweet and make a nice addition to salads or as a garnish. Even the young seed pods can be cooked and enjoyed as an excellent source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid.
Evening primrose oil, extracted from the seeds contains the essential fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and linoleic acid, both of which are Omega-6 fatty acids. These fatty acids are known for improving cardiovascular health, utilization of insulin, treating multiple sclerosis, premenstrual disorders, and regulating moods. GLA forms part of the structural fats that comprise the brain, muscle, bone marrow, and cell membranes.
Certain disorders or diseases may block the body’s ability to make GLA. Supplementing with evening primrose oil can help counter this deficiency and thereby help treat the conditions that are blocking this critical essential fatty acid in the first place.
The body uses magnesium, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin B6 to convert the GLA found in evening primrose oil into prostaglandin, the hormone-like substance the body uses for a wide variety of chemical processes. Therefore some sources recommend supplementing with these minerals and vitamins when using evening primrose oil.
Today, China is the world’s biggest producer of evening primrose oil.
Evening primrose can act as a natural estrogen promoter helping to ease disorders associated with hormonal disruptions such as headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, mood swings, and hot flashes. It is a popular supplement for enhancing fertility. It helps to increase cervical mucus and balance hormones helping to promote fertility.
The blood circulating properties of evening primrose are thought to be beneficial in cases of Raynaud’s syndrome.
Regular consumption of the oil has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Recent research shows that evening primrose has anti-clotting properties that can help prevent heart attacks caused by thrombosis.
The leaves and bark of the stems are used to treat obesity, gastro-intestinal disorders, whooping cough, and asthma. A syrup can also be made from the flowers for treating whooping cough.
Typically recommended dose of evening primrose oil is between 3,000 and 6,000 mg.
The flowering stems can be dried and made into a powder used in face-masks to counteract reddened, irritated skin.
The plants name is somewhat a mystery as it is unclear which Greek word it comes from. Some say it comes from the Greek word meaning “donkey catcher,” others that it means “wine seeker,” and in Latin, the word oenothera means, “a plant whose juices may cause sleep!”
Evening primrose blooms in the evening and at night. It is associated with the moon. The flowers are used to decorate alters for moon ceremonies. It has been used in magical ceremonies for attracting success in achieving one’s goals. In the Victorian language of flowers they were associated with fickleness.
A yellow dye can be made from the flowers.
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Fatty acids (including Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and Linoleic acid), Oleic acid, Palmitic acid, Stearic acid, Mucilage, Tannin, Caffeic acid, Beta sitosterol, Lignin, Amino acids, Calcium, Vitamin E and B, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc.
Piles and Bruises
A poultice made from the roots can be applied to piles and bruises.
Evening primrose has been effective in reducing peripheral neuropathies and other symptoms associated with diabetes.
A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of obesity and bowel pains.
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