A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Efficacy of Evening Primrose Oil for Mastalgia Treatment

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 10;18(12):6295. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18126295.


Mastalgia, or breast pain, is common among women which can lead to significant impairment in daily living. Hence, finding an effective treatment that can alleviate the symptom is very important. Thus, we carry out this study to determine the efficacy of evening primrose oil (EPO) for mastalgia treatment in women. The review included published randomised clinical trials that evaluated EPO used for treating mastalgia against a placebo or other treatments, irrespective of the blinding procedure, publication status, or sample size. Two independent authors screened the titles and abstracts of the identified trials; full texts of relevant trials were evaluated for eligibility. Two reviewers independently extracted data on the methods, interventions, outcomes, and risk of bias. The random-effects model was used for estimating the risk ratios and mean differences with 95% confidence intervals. Thirteen trials with 1752 randomised patients were included. The results showed that EPO has no difference to reduce breast pain compared to topical NSAIDS, danazol, or vitamin E. The number of patients who achieved pain relief was no different compared to the placebo or other treatments. The EPO does not increase adverse events, such as nausea, abdominal bloating, headache or giddiness, increase weight gain, and altered taste compared to a placebo or other treatments. EPO is a safe medication with similar efficacy for pain control in women with mastalgia compared to a placebo, topical NSAIDS, danazol, or vitamin E.

Keywords: NSAIDS; breast pain; danazol; vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acids / therapeutic use
  • Mastodynia* / drug therapy
  • Oenothera biennis
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid / therapeutic use


  • Linoleic Acids
  • Plant Oils
  • evening primrose oil
  • gamma-Linolenic Acid