Treat cyclic mastalgia with evening primrose?

Q: Dear Dr. Mao,
I have heard that evening primrose oil can help with cyclic mastalgia. Will it help me?

A: European physicians commonly use evening primrose oil to treat cyclic mastalgia, and the practice has come to be popular among some physicians in the United States as well. Evening primrose contains relatively high concentrations of the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Fatty acid metabolism is known to be disturbed in women with cyclic mastalgia, and abnormalities in essential fatty acid levels have been found in women with PMS and with nonmalignant breast disease. It appears that supplementation with evening primrose oil may be able to correct this imbalance.

In uncontrolled studies, evening primrose oil has been found to reduce pain and discomfort associated with cyclic mastalgia. However, evening primrose oil does not seem to be helpful when there are breast cysts rather than just pain.

Work with your physician to determine the best course of action for taking evening primrose oil.

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This entry was posted in Mastitis, Q&A.