With up to 80 percent of women experiencing them during perimenopause, hot flashes are common in the end of fertile years, not to mention uncomfortable and stressful.1 Affecting not only daily life, but also quality of sleep, they can be much more than a passing nuisance.
One of the many herbal medicines that has been investigated for alleviating hot flashes is evening primrose oil. But does it actually work? Find out if you can use evening primrose for hot flashes below.
What Is Evening Primrose?
Evening primrose is a plant found across most of North America and parts of Europe and South America. It has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years by Native Americans.
Primarily used for minor wounds, bruises, stomachaches, and hemorrhoids, evening primrose essential oil has now become popular for treating menopausal hot flashes.
The wildflower is characterized by a circle of leaves that grow at ground level. It blooms during the summer and often has bright yellow petals, though it can come in other colors. Evening primrose remedies are usually made from its essential oil, which is extracted from the seeds.
Does Evening Primrose Oil for Hot Flashes Work?
Despite its recent popularity, evening primrose oil has generally been found to be not very effective for alleviating hot flashes.
Some women have reported small benefit from evening primrose oil, but only in the severity of hot flashes and not their duration or quantity. In other words, though their hot flashes were less intense, they were not shorter or less frequent.2,3
Evening primrose has been evaluated for treating several hormonal conditions, including PMS and breast pain, and it appears that results are mixed. That being said, it doesn't seem to be the most efficient choice for treating menopause symptoms, like hot flashes.
What Other Herbal Treatments Are There?
While evening primrose oil can work for some women, it may have less of an effect on others. Here are three of the best alternative herbal medicines for hot flashes:
- Black cohosh is scientifically acknowledged for decreasing the severity and quantity of hot flashes.3
- Dong quai has been used for hot flashes, high blood pressure, and other menopause symptoms.
- Red clover extract has been found an effective treatment in reducing hot flash intensity.4
Different treatments work better for different people. Click on the following link to find out more about alternative treatments for hot flashes.
- Lee Health. (2015). Dong quai. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from http://www.leehealth.org/healthinformation/Complementary%20and%20Alternative%20Medicine/33/000238.htm
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2016). Evening Primrose Oil. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/eveningprimrose
- The North American Menopause Society. (n.d.). Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/natural-remedies-for-hot-flashes
- Winchester Hospital. (n.d.). Cyclic Mastalgia. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.winchesterhospital.org/health-library/article?id=21908
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2015). Menopause-related hot flashes and night sweats can last for years. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/menopause-related-hot-flashes-night-sweats-can-last-years-201502237745
- Farzaneh, F. et al. (2013). The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 288(5), 1075-1079. doi: 10.1007/s00404-013-2852-6
- Mehrpooya, M. et al. (2018). A comparative study on the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primrose oil” on menopausal hot flashes. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 7, 36. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_81_17
- Ghazanfarpour, M. et al. (2015). Effects of red clover on hot flash and circulating hormone concentrations in menopausal women: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 5(6), 498-511. Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678495/