Evening primrose oil works in alcoholism because it is rich in gammalinolenic acid. This means it can avoid the enzyme block which prevents linoleic acid from converting to GLA. It increases the body’s supplies of essential fatty acids, and its store of DGLA, and means that PGE1 levels can be raised.
These properties make evening primrose oil useful in a number of conditions associated with alcoholism.
Withdrawal symptoms. Evening primrose oil can alleviate some of the symptoms usually associated with withdrawal from alcohol. In a series of studies conducted by Dr Iain Glen of the Highland Psychiatric Research Group at Craig Dunain Hospital in Inverness, Scotland, patients treated with Efamol while withdrawing from alcohol did much better than the patients on a placebo.
Efamol was found to reduce the amount of tranquillizers needed by alcoholics in the throes of withdrawal. There was also a marked difference in the essential fatty acid content of the plasma and red blood cells after 24 weeks of treatment on Efamol, compared with the group given a placebo. Efamol also lowered the incidence of hallucinations during the withdrawal phase.
This study on human alcoholics confirms earlier work done on mice by Dr John Rotrosen and Dr David Sagarnick at New York University, who got mice addicted to alcohol by giving them an alcohol-rich diet. They then took away the alcohol abruptly and over the next few hours there was a dramatic withdrawal syndrome, similar to what happens with human alcoholics. The doctors then injected either PGE1 or Efamol into the animals. This dramatically alleviated the withdrawal problems of the addicted mice. Tremor, irritability, over-excitability and convulsions were all reduced by about 50%.
Liver and other tissue damage. A common complication of alcoholism is fatty degeneration of the liver. Another study done by Dr Iain Glen in Inverness, Scotland, showed that Efamol can go a long way towards correcting liver damage due to alcohol. The Alcoholic Clinic at Craig Dunain Hospital conducted a double-blind trial with about 100 patients. No one knew who was taking the capsules of evening primrose oil, and who was taking the identical capsules containing liquid paraffin.
The group taking the evening primrose oil (Efamol 500) did much better than the others. The results showed that evening primrose oil can improve liver function and its biochemistry can return to normal much more quickly, compared with a group of alcoholics who were given the placebo.
Hangovers. Evening primrose oil is highly effective in preventing hangovers. Doctors researching this treatment have tried this for themselves, and found that four to six capsules straight after drinking and before going to bed greatly reduce the symptoms of a hangover.

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