According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), thinning hair and/or hair loss affects approximately 80 million Americans each year.
This could not only be a symptom of an underlying health condition or nutritional deficit, it also has the power to really hurt one’s self-esteem.
However, before consulting your dermatologist, consider a natural supplement for preventing hair loss: Evening Primrose oil.
Similar to borage and black current seed oils, Evening Primrose oil has a high content of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid that stimulates growth and provides nourishment to the hair, among other talents.
It is unable to be produced by the body directly, which means supplementation is often necessary. Its benefits are not limited to your hair — it also works to improve skin and your overall health.
Evening Primrose oil is native to North America, but is also found in areas of Europe and parts of the Southern Hemisphere.
The primrose’s yellow flower petals bloom in the evening (hence, the name), and the oil is distilled from the seeds of the primrose.
Medicinally, Evening Primrose oil has been known to treat bruises, hemorrhoids, digestive problems, and sore throats.
What You Need to Know about Hair Loss
Many don’t know there is a difference between hair loss and hair shedding – that is to say, if you see more hair than normal on your brush or on the floor after you blow dry your hair, don’t automatically come to the conclusion that you have a hair loss condition.
It’s actually normal to shed between 50 and 100 hairs a day.
If you shed more than that on a regular basis, you might have an excessive shedding condition (yes, it’s a thing!) called telogen effluvium. This is common following certain stressors:
- Dramatic weight loss (>20 lbs)
- Birth of a child
- Stressful life event
- High fever/recovering from an illness
- Suspension of birth control pills
How Evening Primrose Oil Can Intervene
Excessive shedding is only temporary, unless long-term stress is part of your daily life. Within six to nine months, your hair will return to its normal weight and body. However, Evening Primrose oil provides a remedy that could help get your hair back to its optimal health a bit more quickly.
Because of its extremely high content of GLA (fatty acids), it is nourishing to the scalp, which will stimulate hair growth and prevent additional hair loss. A nourished scalp has the power to work against numerous hair conditions.
Other causes of hair loss can include:
- Damaging hair treatments/styling
- Continuously pulling/twisting the hair
- Hairstyles that pull on the hair
- Prescription drugs (i.e. blood thinners and medications for gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems, and high blood pressure)
- Thyroid disease
- Iron deficiency
You Are Not Alone
30 percent of women report serious hair loss by age 30. By 50, that percentage has nearly doubled. The first step in taking action against hair loss requires trying to identify the cause. As said above, this could be anything from diet, stressful circumstances, aging, genetics, hormonal deficiencies, menopause, or pregnancy. By age 30-40, breakage occurs much more readily.
Oftentimes, hair loss can be attributed to nutritional deficiencies. This is when essential fatty acid supplements such as Evening Primrose oil can play a major role in your overall health, as GLA is not produced by the body. It is critical for fighting inflammation.
If you suspect your hair loss could be attributed to your thyroid, talk to your doctor to see if Evening Primrose oil could help balance the loss.
The GLA (fatty acid) content in Evening Primrose oil has the incredible ability to nourish the scalp from the inside out, promoting healing for numerous hair conditions by creating the ideal scalp environment for the hair follicles. This will directly affect hair texture, strength, and its ability to grow.
In addition to strengthening and promoting hair growth, Evening Primrose oil also comes with these benefits:
- Fights against dandruff, eczema, and other related bacterial and fungal infections
- Prevents dryness and brittleness
- Helps to prevent hair loss
- Helps to retain moisture
- Aids in balancing hormonal imbalances that might cause hair shedding
The antioxidant content of Evening Primrose oil helps to reinforce the scalp’s defense mechanism, preventing damage as a nutritious protective layer. If you mix Evening Primrose oil with black current seed oil, which contains twice the amount of GLA, you will be provided with an even richer source of antioxidants.
It also has the power to inhibit dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the main culprit behind androgenic alopecia, a very common hair loss pattern seen in both women and men.
How to Use Evening Primrose Oil
The best way to get these effects is through direct application to the scalp. Massage can dramatically improve blood circulation to the area, working to strengthen the hair roots and nourish any damage to the scalp. It can also lower your stress level, which is one of the main triggers of hair loss.
Specific research carried out at the University of Maryland (1998) tested rubbing essential oils (with a carrier oil) directly on the scalp versus rubbing only carrier oils. In the experimental group, 43 people massaged essential oils daily for seven months.
Those who massaged essential oils directly onto the scalp noticed significant hair regrowth compared to the 43 in the control group, who only used a carrier oil.
You can do this as well: directly apply approximately a tablespoon of Evening Primrose oil to your scalp, massage in, and leave in for a couple of hours.
Repeat this daily for a couple of weeks. Most importantly, this will increase blood circulation, bringing more nutrients to the hair follicles via the blood.
- Other oils such as coconut, avocado, and olive can be mixed in for added nourishment and antioxidants.
- This will not only help to heal the scalp, but also promote regular hair growth.
- If your hair is dry, this treatment will provide nourishment through the GLA content.
- If you are going through a period of hair shedding or have brittle hair, Evening Primrose oil can improve softness and quality.
Remember that the results of Evening Primrose oil are not instantaneous—most doctors say two months is the minimum length of time to begin seeing visible results of hair growth.
The other main treatment would be taking a daily supplement, ideally 500 mg twice a day. The only side effects that have been recorded include headache, stomachache, and nausea. However, they are very rare. Overdosing could have stronger side effects, such as seizures and vomiting.
The Final Takeaway
The power of Evening Primrose oil is unlike any other natural oil. While it may not be a cure-all for hair loss, it will certainly be of benefit to your hair’s overall health. Evening Primrose oil can also be an overall benefit to your health and well-being if taken correctly and used intelligently, as GLA cannot be independently produced by the body.
Dosage amounts can vary based on which research you read, so the best idea is to speak to your doctor about what amount would be right for you before beginning any routine supplement.