This page about Evening Primrose oil for gout was last reviewed or updated on 31 May 2014
Evening primrose oil is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose flower, so perhaps we should call it a herb, but it's definitely a dietary supplement.
You may wish to include evening primrose oil among the nutrient supplements you take for gout, because it's a good source of gamma linolenic acid, an omega-6 fat. It is abbreviated to GLA.
Linoleic acid, (LA) which is abundant in foods, is also in evening primrose oil, and many cooking oils. It is converted in the body to GLA. But only some will be converted, and the conversion depends on many factors.
Age is a key conversion factor One key one is your age. Gout sufferers are usually over 40. By 65 you only produce ⅓ of the amount of GLA from LA as you did when about 25. Taking GLA in its own form, not converted, guarantees you can get an amount you know.
So because you can't know the amount you convert from LA to GLA – but you can read on the omega - 6 page about ways of boosting it – it's best to get GLA by taking it as is, especially when you need it for a very specific purpose such as this treatment. That's why you take evening primrose oil for gout, or borage oil or eat oatmeal (porridge oats).
There is another healthy fat in evening primrose oil, oleic acid, but it is really not close to the importance of EP OIl's GLA.
It is easy to get linoleic acid from food sources but it is not easy to get GLA, in its own form, from food.
Evening primrose oil is also a better source of linoleic acid than the cooking oils mentioned on the omega -6 page.
Why are we writing about evening primrose oil for gout, and why can gout sufferers use it for gout pain relief and swelling? GLA is one of the star nutrients – the other stars are EPA and DHA, (from fish oils or certain fish). The rest of the cast are the body enzymes D6D and D5D, linoleic acid (LA) and alpha linolenic acid (ALA).
Together, and along with dietary measures, they perform the production in the body of "good" and "bad" eicosanoid prostaglandins. These are hormones, produced in the cells in their case, not in the glands. The balance of them affects many health factors. Obviously you want more "good" than "bad." But the words “good” and “bad” are in this medical context. i.e. gout pain relief. In others, “bad” can be good.
For gout sufferers the significance of a better eicosanoid balance is that by improving it you can achieve relief for gout pain and perhaps reduce your need for pain medications such as NSAIDs or corticosteroids such as prednisone.
You can learn much more about this approach on the omega-3 and omega -6 pages.
The complete theory can be read in “The Omega RX Zone” and “The Anti-Inflammation Zone” both written by Barry Sears PhD, a fats chemist by training, and also author of the “Enter The Zone” and other Zone diet books.
The change of balance of eicosanoids is also featured in “Dr.Atkins' Vita-Nutrient Solution” written by the famous diet doctor Robert Atkins. Dr.Atkins also used balance improvement against inflammation. His doses were different to Dr. Sears's, especially the amount of GLA required. Sears's theory is we think the most comprehensive one for dealing with pain and swelling with these oils plus his Zone Diet, but the Atkins amounts, explained in his book mentioned above, may work for you.
Are these only well substantiated gout pain relief theories?
If you visit this page you can click on links to testimonials where pain relief for gout, at the least, has been achieved.
How much gamma linolenic acid for gout ?
In Dr. Sears's theory you can also get sufficient GLA by simply eating three to five bowls of slow cooked oatmeal (whole grain porridge oats) a week. Or you take a small amount of GLA from evening primrose oil or borage oil daily. No more than 50 mg weekly.
For information about oats and their GLA read the oats page
If you attempt this treatment, high quality fish oils and the control/reduction of insulin levels by carbohydrate restriction, (but not down to the amounts in the initial stages of the Atkins diet), are the other key factors. You may find you require more GLA, although there is such a thing as taking too much.
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If you decide on the high omega -3/low GLA approach, as described on the omega -6 page, then click on the Zone Diet banner advertisement below, and view the EicoRx range of fish oils which also contain added amounts of GLA concentrate. To do this, when the Zone Diet's home page arrives, click on the Omega -3 tab at the top.