Evening Primrose Oil side effects - my story

(24 Posts)
Soveryupset Mon 26-Jan-15 10:39:31

I just thought I post this, as when it happened to me it was really quite scary and it was only after googling that I found other people going through similar.

In short, I had breast pain, which was found to be related to my cycle, and the breast consultant I went to see recommended high dose evening primrose oil. I never really suffered from PMT, so I never really took them. I started off with a lower dose, then went up to a higher one, taking 3 pills per day.

I started to feel really anxious all the time and every little thing set me off crying or flipping out. We went on holiday (this was last summer) and instead of relaxing immediately as I normally do, I started to feel worse and worse. It culminated with me having a massive showdown - screaming fit at DH and my DD1 as they made a tiny joke - everyone was really worried about me, including myself, as I ended up in a tiny room crying for hours for no reason whatsoever.

DH and I sat that night trying to work out what the hell was going on with me and it suddenly dawned on us - evening primrose tablets. I chucked them all in the bin and stopped taking them and after only a day I felt like a huge blanket of doom had lifted off my head. I later discovered on various forums that it can seriously affect your nervous system.

So I just wanted to warn everyone who starts to take these for the first time to monitor how they feel. Even if this only helps one person I will be glad that they don't have to go what I went through that time! I thought I was going mad.

OP’s posts: |
TiedUpWithString Mon 26-Jan-15 11:12:40

That's very interesting and might explain how my mother was such a cowbag...

I am glad you're feeling better OP. How about Safflower oil?

Soveryupset Mon 26-Jan-15 11:44:36

Glad you found it interesting. My breast issues seem ok now so I am not having to worry about alternatives, but I will bear it in mind. Needless to say, I am very cautious now after that experience!!!

OP’s posts: |
Towse03 Wed 04-Feb-15 16:27:59

Thank you for sharing your experience.

I too was told to take 3grams of Evening primrose oil daily for a breast condition and gradually started to feel just as your describing. Overacting to certain events or things being said. Crying at the drop of a hat. I started taking it 3 or 4 weeks ago and the last 2 weeks have been dreadful. I've found it's impacting my sleep also. I started waking up at 3 or 4am and initially would fall back to sleep but now I'm waking up and can't get back to sleep, then something that happened will come into my head and I'll be crying again! I feel exhausted through lack of sleep and ready for the funny farm and was blaming some of it on my job and was almost ready to quit!

I've never felt like this before, like yourself never had PMT so never taken these before and in general I'm not a person who cries at the drop of a hat. I'm purely taking them for the breast condition. I've now stopped taking them and hoping this feeling will lift very soon.

Once again thank you for sharing its good to know I'm not the only person having this sort of reaction to EPO. Glad you are now feeling so much better for not taking them hopefully I will feel the same soon.

nutdust Thu 18-Jan-18 10:32:09

Apologies for reviving a zombie thread but I wanted to share this, as I wish I'd know this information myself...
In brief, started taking Holland & Barrett oil of evening primrose a week ago to alleviate PMS symptoms & have been bowled over by side effects of anxiety, low mood, insommnia & digestion issues. I have no current or historic mental health diagnoses or issues. Stopped taking them a few days ago & feeling the symptoms life already. I know we all respond differently but...
to any other women considering oil of evening primrose: be warned! Wish I'd never touched the stuff!

OldCurmudgeon Thu 18-Jan-18 10:58:43

I tried them a few years ago for breast pain, dont remember any mental issues but they gave me serious diarrhoea, we are talking about 8 times per day, I decided I would rather have sore tits than sore ass and constantly going to the toilet blush

AllButterShortbread Thu 18-Jan-18 13:00:34

I have been taking them for a year for breast pain and have no side effects at all, bar a jippy tummy for a few days at the start. They’ve taken away 90% of my pain and I recommend them at the drop of a hat tbh!

So I’d say they’re worth a try but it’s good to be aware of others experiences.


eveningprimroseoil Mon 04-Feb-19 12:42:10

I had exactly the same problem with evening primrose oil, not only did it make my pmt symptoms ten times worse like i was under a rageful curse, it made my breasts hurt too! I now avoid it!

eveningprimroseoil Mon 04-Feb-19 12:48:23

Beware as evening primrose oil is included in ' wellwoman' supplements, left me feeling far from well!

jppovom270 Mon 18-Nov-19 22:56:00

I started taking it 2 months ago and just recently started feeling extremely fatigued, having hot flashes, anxiety, weight gain and brain fog.. I'm postmenopausal and am on HRT. I started taking it because It's suppose to help with neuropathy. I just discovered that it can either increase progestrone or estrogen... Either way, If you're dominate in either hormone you'll have the same side effects... I was wondering if anyone has been on this for an extended period of time and had this experience? If so, how long did it take for normality to set back in after you stopped?? :/

Mumma1984 Tue 19-Nov-19 11:40:17

@jppovom270 how strange is this... I've had some odd neuro symptoms sporadically ... now I've had MRI investigations and all GP's say anxiety and my worry was MS - GP's and neuro says no and so did the MRI ... so I started to wonder now what else am I putting in my body, I've had the depo injection for maybe 8 years.... (symptoms have come and gone since around that time) I'm wondering if it could be the cause, the nurse has now given me a pill but it's still a progesterone pill so maybe it won't make any difference but they won't give me a pill that will increase breast cancer risk as my aunt has breast cancer so they see that as a family risk ....

I'm very interested if these symptoms could have something to do with hormones ...

jppovom270 Tue 19-Nov-19 16:05:21

Are you menopausal now?

Mumma1984 Tue 19-Nov-19 16:09:12

No I'm only 35 and have a 18 month old x

jppovom270 Tue 19-Nov-19 18:19:50

Ok, gotcha! Hormones play such a vital role, I went through a horrible menopause. Absolutely, debilitating depression and anxiety. They put me on all sorts of psychiatric meds and come to find out it was ALL hormonal! This started a year and a half ago and I'm still trying to off all of my meds.. :/ How are you doing?

Erikkka Sun 12-Jan-20 12:19:40

I have recently tried multi vitamin supplements with evening primrose and starflower. After reading mumsnet comments I am now wondering if the evening primrose is a problem. I had taken it on its own for years thinking it was good for me but maybe it contributed to my anxiety. I am quite concerned about the affects after taking these multi vitamins for ten days. Felt weird. Dizzy..bloated and seemed to antagonise my joint pain (Reapetive strain) . Skin did look puffed up and glowing but is it the starflower or the primrose that affected me. Anyone experienced side affects of Starflower??

koula12345 Fri 27-Mar-20 18:34:27

Hello. I started taking evening primrose oil to cure my PMS symptoms. After around 10 days I started experiencing very irritating brain fog, fatigue and anxiety. I didn’t realize these were connected to the supplement till after 4 more weeks. I finally stopped taking it, but especially the brain fog isn’t going away. What did you do to treat the awful side effects?

Helenkay1988 Fri 08-May-20 13:55:33

After taking this tablet just 1 although it was like swallowing a bullet... and (morrisons make) I was fine all day feeling pretty good after I had a shower settled down about 10clock

Didn’t drop to sleep till about 1.30 well that’s even if I fell to sleep all of a sudden as I was dropping off I started to feel all anxious belly turning panicky heart Palps I don’t even know if I feel to sleep properly kept waking even though it felt like I had not slept! Waking in such a panic attack heart palps the lot! Dreaming wild dreams thinking they was real there are no side affects on google I can find which says they do this and it’s the only thing I have took that’s different.... any1 else feel like this and now I feel very tired and down and feel like crying and I have no idea why 😩😩😩😩 I only took 1 😩

neonbunbun Fri 03-Jul-20 14:30:51

This may actually be my life saver. I've been scouring the internet looking up side effects of evening primrose oil and coming up with nothing.
I had a feeling these supplements that I was taking for mood swings and bad PMS might actually be causing me even WORSE moodswings and actually PMDD symptoms but when I spoke about it to my Dr, she said that since they had considerably shortened my cycle length from 45 days to 35, they were probably doing good and that I was a little out of whack but that things would settle down as I got used to them.
I'm over two months in and I feel like I'm losing my mind. I feel sick, constantly anxious, shaking, crying, raging, in constant despair, intrusive paranoid thoughts.... I keep telling people that I feel like I'm going insane and I even got prescribed some anti depressants because I just can't cope with this.
It HAS to be those oil pills, right?? I'm afraid to stop them because the last time I did for a few days, I started spotting. But I can't keep on feeling like this. Feels like my brain is on fire. I haven't felt like myself in over two months and I'm reaching my limit. Help!

mandina33 Fri 03-Jul-20 15:53:10

Please stop them as soon as possible!! They helped my cycle but made my health so so bad, 3 months after stopping them I still have some symptoms and I only took them for 5 weeks. I had to start homeopathy for the anxiety it gave me and I still have to get over the dissociative feeling they caused me. I know it might sound like I’m exaggerating, but please, if you think that they make you feel bad, stop them before it becomes worse. I’ve read so many stories of women whose bodies went crazy after using Evening Primrose Oil, I guess some bodies can’t process it in the same way as others. Take care of yourself!

neonbunbun Fri 03-Jul-20 19:09:47

Woah you're kind of freaking me out here. I hope I won't have such severe after effects since I'm already feeling so sick :O
Take care!

Lockdownfatigue Fri 03-Jul-20 20:23:14

Oh wow. I was about to start taking them for pms and I might think twice now!

BlibBlobBab Thu 05-Nov-20 15:59:19

I've been taking evening primrose oil for period pain and PMS, as recommended by my pharmacist. I suffer quite badly with my period, very painful cramps that make me feel like I'm going to pass out, plus mood swings. I get very depressed, have angry rages and have suicidal thoughts (I wouldn't act on them) and sometimes self harm. I realise I don't sound particularly mentally stable but this happens only for a few days of the month and outside of those times I am usually quite a carefree, easy going person and not like that at all.

So that's why I began taking evening primrose oil, and my first period since starting it was actually better. BUT, as the days pass my mood in general is getting lower. I'm paranoid, anxious and have like a permanent low level depression. I am bursting into tears over stupid things, and the paranoia and anxiety is getting unbearable.

I had a very similar reaction when I was on the contraceptive pill, and it grew worse the longer I was on it until it became like I was in a constant state of my worse days of PMS. If it wasn't for that experience with the pill, I don't think I would have made the connection between what's happening now and EPO. This thread has made my mind up and I will stop taking it. I just wanted to add my story in case anyone else ever has the same reaction and turns to Google for answers.

I would rather put up with about 3 days of hell each month rather than constantly be feeling like this, however, if anyone else has ever been in a similar situation and found something that actually works for them, I'd love to hear it.

sabi1247 Mon 15-Mar-21 08:49:25

Hi ladies,

I have been taking the EPO for the last two weeks then stopped three days ago as i was going insane, weird thoughts, suicidal thoughts.. i reached out to a psychiatric and about to take Zoloft (anti depressants).
I have hormonal imbalance, PCOS.. and was having hot flushes so starting to take this evil meds.
My question is: how long did it take for you to get back to "normal" once you stopped the meds?


Safzee Sun 28-Mar-21 16:56:32

It happened to me few years ago. I decided to take it due to PMS. I bought it from H&B. I started feeling anxious about everything. I was going through some stuff but normally I could handle it, everything escalated pretty much. I was anxious, I had butterflies in my tummy for no reason. I had heart palpitations which was very scared. I was crying a lot without any reasons. I was so depressed that I stayed in bed the whole day and night. Anything set me off and o couldn’t handle interaction or working. As soon as I noticed maybe was the evening primrose oil I stopped immediately. But the damage was done already I had depression and anxiety. I got better after few weeks and went back to work.
I was so scared I thought I was having a mental breakdown or something I was scared of being alone yet I couldn’t social longer every time I tried I ended up locking myself in a room crying for no reasons. I remember I felt heartbroken for no reasons.

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