In this article you’re going to learn about the latest scientific discoveries on using evening primrose oil for hair loss, so you know exactly how to use this amazing oil to regrow your hair, starting today.
Firstly I’ll explain what evening primrose oil is, and where it comes from.
Secondly I’ll dive into all of the studies that have investigated how effective it really is for hair growth.
Thirdly, towards the end of this guide I’ll show you some of the hair care recipes you can start using right away to make the most of this oil to protect your own hair, stimulate hair growth and stop any further loss.
I recommend you read the entire article so that you have a good idea of how to use evening primrose for your individual situation so you can start using it right away if you want.
Evening primrose, or Oenothera biennis, is a yellow flower that is found primarily in the North America, Central America, and Europe region.
Each individual flower has a short blooming period, and only open up for one evening (hence the name) before withering and dying the following day. It is said to light up in the dark.
The oil, which is extracted from the seed, is considered to have therapeutic properties. In addition to the evening primrose’s leaves and roots, the Native Americans have used the oil for a wide array of ailments, from minor wounds and bruises to gastrointestinal disorders and hemorrhoids.
Evening primrose oil has a primary composition of omega-6 oleic acids, most notably linoleic acid, gamma-linoleic, and glutamine. Linoleic acid is considered an essential omega-6 fatty acid, as our body cannot produce this fatty acid itself.
Omega-6 is necessary for human health. It plays a crucial role in cerebral and nerve functioning, as well as growth and development of cells. In addition, omega-6 maintains bone health, support the reproductive system, regulate metabolism, and stimulate hair growth.
While there is currently limited evidence, evening primrose oil may show promise in counteracting different subtypes of alopecia such as alopecia areata and effluvium telogen. It can also be effective in treating hair loss as a result of hyperthyroidism, or overactive thyroids.
Evening primrose oil, in addition to stimulating healthy skin and hair growth, have strong anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties that will nourish the scalp and deliver essential nutrients to promote growth.
1. Evening Primrose Oil For Hair Growth Phases
Hair growth has three main cycles – anagen, catagen, and telogen phase.
- The anagen phase is the active stage where the cells are rapidly dividing as new hair is forming.
- The catagen phase is the transitional stage that allows the attachment of the hair sheath to its respective hair root.
- The telogen phase is the resting stage, where there are no activities in motion. This is the phase when the hairs are naturally shedding. Healthy individuals lose about 25 to 100 hair strands a day.
Recent studies have indicated that evening primrose oil can indeed have a direct effect on hair follicles!
In a study by Munkhbayar et al, the researchers took hair strands from healthy human volunteers between the ages of 20 to 50 years old and measured the effect of arachidonic acid on the elongation of the hair shaft, expression of growth and survival in-vitro, or using isolated human cells.
Meanwhile, the researchers applied a mixture of either a placebo, arachidonic acid, or minoxidil every day for four weeks on the shaved backs of female mice.
These mice had just ended the telogen phase and undergoing the anagen phase of hair growth. The anagen hairs were then examined 28 days later.
Multiple results showed to be very positive. The cells in the dermal papilla were more viable for up to 2 µM of arachidonic acid before decreasing significantly with increased dosage.
There was an increase in fibroblast growth factors and other molecules that stimulate hair production and survival. In addition, the hair shaft resulted in significant elongation at a moderate dose of arachidonic acid.
Meanwhile, the mice that had the arachidonic acid application on their back grew more hair at a faster rate than the mice in placebo or minoxidil groups.
The dermal papilla, which is located in the hair follicle’s bulb, is composed of cells that help regulate keratin. Keratin is a protein commonly known for building healthy hair and skin.
The researchers postulated that the arachidonic acid activated special growth factors that encouraged the multiplication and maintenance of these keratin cells during the anagen phase of hair growth.
Arachidonic acid also appears to trigger multiple signals that affect a variety of cell functions.
Specifically, important molecular factors for preventing cell death (aka apoptosis or necrosis) are triggered and activated to help promote the survival of growing and existing hair cells.
In addition, arachidonic acid appears to also induce the anagen phase of hair growth. It also extends the duration of the stage, resulting in more cell division before it settles into catagan phase!
All this not only contributes to ample hair growth, but also stronger and thicker hair strands!
Linoleic acid in evening primrose oil is a precursor to arachidonic acid. Your body can take linoleic acid and synthesize it in the liver to eventually become arachidonic acid.
However, it is important to note that based on the results of this study, mild to moderate amount of arachidonic acid will reap the most benefit. Too much will be counterproductive and may induce adverse inflammatory responses.
2. Benefits of Evening Primrose Oil on Scalp Inflammation
Evening primrose oil can be helpful in reducing chronic inflammation on the skin and scalp. Inflammation is a natural defense response of our body to harmful stimuli such as injury to the tissues or allergies.
However, uncontrolled inflammatory response is the source of a vast continuum of crippling disorders related to metabolic syndromes, autoimmune, and cancer.
In individuals with chronic hair loss, unnatural accumulation of substances such as free radical, DHT, and bacteria in the scalp region ignites an inflammatory response from the body.
Early studies have postulated that the polyunsaturated fatty acids in the evening primrose oil could be the main derivatives for inflammatory relief.
In this one study, Senapati and his team of dermatologists enlisted young patients with atopic dermatitis and separated them into two groups – one taking 500mg of evening primrose oil and the other taking 300mg of sunflower oil.
After 5 months of continual usage, the researchers compared the results and found that 96 percent of the evening primrose oil users showed substantial improvements, in contrast to only 32 percent of the sunflower oil users.
Like earlier studies, the researchers supports the theory that lack of omega-6 fatty acids plays a role in inducing inflammation.
However, they further refine this theory by suggesting that it is not necessarily the lack of linoleic acid (aka omega-6 essential fatty acid) that is the source of inflammatory aggravation, but more likely the reduced conversion to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) that is the more likely culprit.
While the science community has conflicting views, the reduce production of gamma-linolenic acid may be contributing to an increased likelihood of inflammation.
This is primarily because gamma-linolenic acid can convert to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), which has been shown to fight against specific proinflammatory mediators.
Another suggestion for the evening primrose’s anti-inflammatory effects could be related to its sterol qualities. Sterol is a subtype of lipid – cholesterol and sex hormone (estrogen and testosterone) falls into this category.
Evening primrose oil has a high composition of phytosterol, or plant sterol. This sterol is a naturally found in many plant-based foods such as grain, vegetable, fruits, and nuts.
Plant sterol is well known for its cholesterol lowering effects, which is correlated with reduced inflammation.
A common belief for this phenomenon is due to the similar chemical composition of plant sterol and cholesterol. When there is too much LDL, or bad cholesterol, it will seep into the walls of the artery and damage the lining by forming plaque.
This will instigate an inflammatory response, which only worsens as an accumulation of cholesterol further aggravates the site.
Because plant sterol has a similar structure to LDL, it will act to directly block LDL’s absorption. In fact, a study where people drank sterol-fortified juice found that in two weeks alone, their LDL cholesterol level dropped an average of 12.4 percent.
Paz et al suggested an additional theory for plant sterols’ effect on inflammation by focusing on the mediators. In their study, the largest composition of plant sterol from the evening primrose oil, beta-sitosterol, and campesterol, were extracted and cultured with mice cells.
The researchers took several inflammatory markers, such as macrophages, nitric oxide, and prostaglandins, and tested each of them with 25, 50, and 100 g/ml of sterol in the cell culture.
The results found that a number of inflammatory markers were notably reduced, with many of them to a significant degree.
For example, the reduction of nitric oxide (NO), which plays a key role in inflammatory and immune reaction activities, was at its greatest in the 100 g/ml plant sterol culture.
In addition, the researchers postulate that the plant sterol helped prevent linoleic acid from converting into the polyunsaturated omega-6 chemical arachidonic acid.
Though we mentioned above that it could directly help with hair growth, an excessive amount of this particular omega-6 fatty acid has been thought to initiate and amplify inflammatory reactions.
This will only counteract the potential benefits that arachidonic acid can have on hair growth.
3. Evening Primrose Oil and Antioxidant Vitamin E
Free radicals attack important molecules leading to cell damage and disruption. Targets of free radicals include all kinds of molecules in the body such as lipids and proteins.
Once a cascade of cell damages have erupted within a site, such as at the scalp, the body will initiate an inflammatory response to stop the damage and start repairing the cells.
However, chronic inflammation will ensue if the free radicals are not dealt with properly.
Antioxidants prevent free radicals from causing damages by donating one of their own electrons. There are likely thousands of different antioxidants to manage different subsets of free radicals.
Among the many antioxidants in the evening primrose oil, one of the more abundant is Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant known for its ability to build and repair tissues. Vitamin E is also a potent radical-scavenging antioxidant that is most well known for acting as an inhibitor for lipid peroxidation, or degradation to the lipid, caused by free radicals.
To demonstrate Vitamin E’s correlation with preventing hair loss, researchers Beoy et al took 38 healthy male and female with varying levels of alopecia were split into either taking a placebo supplement or tocotrienol (a member of the Vitamin E family) supplement for eight months for a total of 100 mg a day.
Hair count and weight of hair were collected and measured.
The results showed that the hair numbers at the 8-month interval were significantly greater than those at baseline and at the 4-month interval for the Vitamin E group.
In contrast, the placebo group displayed very little growth at the 8-month mark. (So, supplementation with vitamin E wins by 35%)
Unfortunately, this study did not find any statistical difference in weight of hair strands.
The researchers also mentioned that in addition to acting as a vital antioxidant, Vitamin E may be able to increase blood vessel growth, therefore increasing the number of nutrients that reaches the cells of the hair follicles.
It also efficiently increases the removal of waste that would otherwise cause damage to scalp tissues. This will encourage rapid hair growth and the healing of damaged hair shafts.
How to use Evening Primrose Oil Treatment
Evening primrose oil can be taken as an oral supplement. It is sold in capsule or soft gel form. Each capsule generally contains 1000mg. Talk to your doctor about the best dosage based on your circumstances.
One of the more effective methods of utilizing evening primrose oil is directly applying it to the scalp. It can better penetrate the pores and deeply nourishes the hair follicles.
You can have it deep conditioned by leaving it overnight on the scalp and washing it off in the morning.
Should you adopt evening primrose oil as a hair routine, it is recommended that the balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is taken into consideration.
Make Your Own Evening Primrose Oil Shampoo
One of the best ways to reap the benefits of this amazing oil is to use it in your own homemade shampoos and hair masks. Rather than damaging your hair with harsh chemicals from commercial products, its so much better to make your own.
My personal rule is, if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your hair or your skin.
Here is one recipe you can use right away to stimulate hair growth, reduce scalp inflammation, soothe the scalp skin and clear away blocked and clogged follicles.
- Nettle (2-3 bunches)
- Evening Primrose Oil (1 teaspoon)
- Rosemary Essential Oil (10 drops)
- Powdered Tumeric (1 teaspoon)
- Apple cider vinegar (1 cup)
- Baking soda (1 teaspoon)
- Steep the nettle bunches in hot water and allow to cool before straining the water out.
- Add the rest of the ingredients (if you are missing ingredients then thats okay, just use what you’ve got) and mix thoroughly.
- Lather on to your hair and massage into the scalp for 2-4 minutes, then rinse out thoroughly.
Stinging nettle is extremely rich in hair growth boosting vitamins A, B, C, D and K, which also help to stimulate the scalp and helps with BPH. The rosemary essential oil has antiseptic properties and can aid new hair growth.
Turmeric is a well known and powerful spice that has long medical history. The turmeric in this recipe will rejuvenate and soothe your scalp whilst providing rare nutrients and minerals that are essential for hair growth.
It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory and helps with itching and irritation.
Rosemary helps to increase scalp circulation and clean the follicles.
Apple cider vinegar and baking soda are the cleansing agents and the base components for most of my homemade shampoos. Learn more about ACV here.
Evening Primrose Oil Risks and Side effects
Though the oil does not contain many side effects, it may interact negatively with certain medications. According to WebMD, use with caution if you are taking the following:
Bleeding: there is an anticoagulant (blood-thinning) effect with evening primrose oil so there is a higher risk of bleeding for people taking any blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin). Therefore, these patients should not use the oil.
Seizures: people with epilepsy or other seizure disorder should avoid taking evening primrose oil as it may increase the chances of having a seizure.
Also, people with schizophrenia treated with certain drugs may be at risk of seizure, so medical advice should be sought.