Evening primrose oil has been used for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions. Not only is evening primrose oil usually considered safe to use while you are breastfeeding, but it also might provide additional health benefits, such as a decrease in unpleasant symptoms that often are experienced while nursing. Always talk with your doctor before taking any supplements.
About Evening Primrose
Evening primrose actually is a wildflower that grows throughout the United States. The oil is extracted from the flower seeds for most medicinal uses. The oil contains 25 percent essential fatty acids, which often are promoted for their health benefits, including linoleic acid, or LA, and gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. The most common uses of evening primrose oil include treatment of skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, as well as diabetic neuropathy treatment and arthritis symptom relief.
Safety While Breastfeeding
Most medical authorities, such as the University of Maryland Medical Extension and Medline Plus, an online resource run by the National Institutes of Health, consider evening primrose oil to be safe to use while breastfeeding; however, they also recommend that you discuss using evening primrose oil with your doctor before taking it regularly. Although there has not been extensive research done on the use of evening primrose oil during lactation, there also is nothing to suggest that it is dangerous to nursing mothers or their babies. In fact, as noted by the University of Maryland Medical Center, breast milk contains both LA and GLA, which also are primary elements of evening primrose oil.
Benefits for Nursing Moms
Among its other uses, evening primrose oil has been administered for the relief of breast pain both during nursing and menstruation. Breast pain is particularly common in the first stages of nursing, when the milk supply is not yet regulated. Once your menstrual cycle returns, evening primrose oil also might alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, such as mood swings and bloating.
Like any supplement or herbal remedy, evening primrose oil should be used with care, especially while nursing. If you have a bleeding disorder, schizophrenia or a seizure disorder, do not take evening primrose oil. Because evening primrose oil increases blood flow, you also should stop taking it if you are having surgery within two weeks. For the treatment of breast pain, studies have shown that 3 to 4 g per day is a safe and effective dosage.
Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.