Evening primrose oil ineffective for eczema

May 22, 2013

A review of therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of eczema revealed that evening primrose oil and borage oil don’t have an effect on the condition.

A review of therapeutic alternatives for the treatment of eczema revealed that evening primrose oil and borage oil don’t have an effect on the condition.

Researchers with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, searched national databases, online trial registers and unpublished and ongoing trials. They analyzed 1,596 participants in 27 studies. Among the studies, 19 assessed evening primrose oil (EPO) and eight assessed borage oil (BO), according to the abstract. A meta-analysis of results from seven EPO studies demonstrated EPO did not significantly increase improvement in global eczema symptoms as reported by the participants on a visual analogue scale of 0 to 100 and a visual analogue scale of 0 to 100 for medical doctors, compared to the placebo group.

Although a meta-analysis was not conducted for studies focused on the use of BO due to the difference in how the studies were reported, the researchers’ assessment demonstrated that BO did not significantly improve global eczema symptoms compared to placebo treatment as reported by both participants and medical doctors, the abstract notes.

The researchers noted similar mild, temporary side effects, which were mainly gastrointestinal. The study did not look at long-term use of the products.

“Noting that the confidence intervals between active and placebo treatment are narrow, to exclude the possibility of any clinically useful difference, we concluded that further studies on EPO or BO for eczema would be hard to justify,” the authors wrote.

The findings were published in the April issue of The Cochrane Library.