Photo: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Trouble with hair loss? If so, you've probably had all kinds of crazy advice, from the shark's teeth powder your aunt tried to get you to take, to the scalp masseuse your neighbor's boyfriend's sister's roommate swears by. Evening primrose oil supplements may have figured somewhere in this spectrum of unwanted but freely dispensed haircare recommendations. Scientific studies indicate that evening primrose oil may be seriously beneficial for a number of medical conditions -- just not any hair-related problems, including hair loss. Be safe, ladies: Talk to your doctor about the possible side effects and dangers before having a go at the evening primrose oil pills.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil sounds like some sort of uppity perfume that only leggy blondes strutting down French fashion runways can afford. It isn't. Evening primrose oil is derived from the seeds of the Oenthera biennis wildflower. Research studies link evening primrose oil supplementation with all kinds of potential health benefits, including a decrease in the symptoms associated with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, skin problems like acne or eczema and exclusively feminine troubles with menstruation, endometriosis or premenstrual syndrome. Scientists believe that evening primrose oil's high concentration of the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, is responsible for its potential health benefits, though Mayo Clinic.com warns that much more research is needed.
Prevention of Hair Loss
Alternative medicine practitioners say that all those omega-6 fatty acids in evening primrose oil makes it a sure bet for preventing hair loss. They recommend either massaging some of the oil onto your scalp, which may help keep the skin moisturized and stimulate better scalp circulation, or taking a 1-gram evening primrose oil supplement three times a day. Remember, though, that medical research doesn't support the idea that evening primrose oil is any better for your hair than using vegetable oil.
Possible Side Effects
If you decide to take evening primrose oil supplements to benefit your hair and scalp, you may experience a variety of side effects, including abdominal pain, headaches, diarrhea and nausea. If you're pregnant or nursing, don't take any chances -- avoid any products containing evening primrose oil. You should also avoid evening primrose oil if you have epilepsy or any type of blood or seizure disorder. The oil can also interfere with the proper function of a number of medications, including antidepressants, blood thinners, seizure-controlling drugs and phenothizines.
Just because evening primrose oil is natural, that doesn't mean that it can't possibly hurt you. Evening primrose oil isn't approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of any medical condition, which means that any commercial evening primrose oil supplement you may purchase has not been checked for purity, safety or effectiveness. On top of that, so little research has been conducted on supplementation with the oil that health experts don't know if it's safe to take regularly long term. It may even end up making your hair loss worse. If you decide you want to give evening primrose oil a whirl for your hair's sake, check with your doctor first and never take more than 4 grams per day.