Evening primrose was called “the king’s cure-all” by early European settlers in North America and has long been used by Native Americans for its plethora of therapeutic effects. Modern science has discovered that many of these benefits appear connected to the concentration of GLA (up to 9%) found in evening primrose oil.
In the body GLA, a long chain fatty acid, is converted into a number of prostaglandins that influence numerous biological functions, including blood coagulation, blood vessel dilation, hormone production, cholesterol levels, inflammation, skin moisture, trans-epidermal water loss, and fatigue resistance. GLA has shown benefits for cardiovascular health, arthritis, skin disorders, premenstrual syndrome, and many more conditions.
A number of foods contain LA, the precursor to GLA, and the body can convert some LA to GLA with the help of various co-factors, including the enzyme delta-6-desaturase. However, a variety of other factors can hinder this process. People with diets high in sugar, alcohol, and trans or saturated fats; the elderly; and anyone with diabetes are especially at risk of having a low conversion of LA to GLA.