Borage, scientifically called Borago officinalis is an herbaceous plant native to Syria, now spread almost all over Europe, North Africa and Iran. Commonly known as starflower, it has a high stem, up to one meter with oval shaped big green leafs pointed upwards. Its flowers are small, bright blue or pink, with five triangular petals, arranged in the shape of a star. The flowers and leaves, a cucumber-tasting vegetable, are edible and used in many European cuisines. The oil, extracted from the seeds, is used by naturopathic doctors for its anti-inflammatory, weight management and its skin health benefits.
Borage oil has one of the highest amounts of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA, also known as omega-6). Borage oil contains 20 % GLA, which has which has been shown to benefit eczema, dermatitis, diabetic neuropathy, breast pain, premenstrual syndrome symptoms, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, skin health and general inflammation. Its other benefits come from its salicylic acid, and its concentrations of Omega 3, mucilage, tannin, resin, potassium nitrate, calcium and magnesium.
BORAGE OIL – HOW TO USE
- Anti-Aging Skin Moisturizer: Borage oil is excellent for skin health, helping restore the suppleness, elasticity and tone of tired, dry, or scarred skin. Borage oil is widely used in cosmetics, because its combination of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids nourish the epidermis, giving it an extraordinary capacity of regeneration. High in salicylic acid, borage oil is widely used in cosmetics for its anti-acne and anti-septic qualities. By rehydrating the skin, borage oil is used as an anti-aging moisturizer. Apply to the skin like face cream after washing during the evening.
- Manicure adjuvant. The gamma linoleic acid moisturizes and strengthens nails, while its salicylic acid kills any possible infection. Rub borage oil into your nails during a manicure or after washing your hands.
- Revitalize Hair: Spilt ends and dull hair that knots quickly and falls out easily may need a revitalizing mask with borage oil. Borage oil is able to regenerate the skin layers in the same way it can regenerate the scalp cells and the hair strands.
- Weight loss tool: A 2007 study gave one group 5 g borage oil and the other 5 g olive oil as supplements, and were assessed over a period of almost three years. Both groups were followed after a period of major weight loss, and the borage group consistently had greater success keeping the weight off. The scientists reasoned it was because of the high GLA content, an essential fatty acid that helps the metabolism and can help kill the appetite. For borage oil for weight loss, take 1 to 2 Gamma linolenic Acid (GLA) Borage oil supplements per day with meals, or as directed by your qualified health consultant. You can also try cooking with the borage leaves–it can be steamed, sauted or boiled like spinach.
- Arthritis Medication: It has been found that the Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) found in borage oil suppresses the molecules that cause joint inflammation. For arthritis, take 1 to 2 Gamma linolenic Acid (GLA) borage oil supplements per day with meals. Avoid more than 3,000 mg of GLA per day. At that level, an increase of inflammation may occur.
BORAGE OIL – REMEDIES
- Acne. Borage oil contains salicylic acid. This natural acid is common in face creams because it is an antiseptic. Borage oil can be applied on the skin for acne using a cotton pad. This treatment is recommended daily, before bedtime.
- Kidney Cleanse: Borage oil ingested as gelatin pills has a diuretic effect due to its concentration of potassium salts. These normalize renal elimination and cleanse the kidneys. Because it is diuretic, ingesting this oil will help the body detoxify.
- Hypertension. Several studies have found that the GLA stimulates how the cell membranes respond to impulses, and can lower blood pressure in animal studies, although more research is needed to determine how and in what dosage borage oil is most beneficial to lowering hypertension.
- Cardiac health. Borage oil reduces the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by reducing plaque and inflammation along the arterial walls and increasing peripheral blood circulation. Both are beneficial to cardiac health.
- Arthritis: The GLA in borage oil suppresses several molecules that cause inflammation. One of these, called tumor-necrosis factor alpha, is associated with inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. (I think this was primrose oil not borage)
- Weight Loss: Taken as supplements, borage oil can be an effective weight loss tool to help cut the appetite. Borage is an oil, so you should make sure to add it to your caloric intake when using it as a weight loss tool.
- PMS. Borage oil has the capacity to stimulate the adrenal glands and increase the production of adrenaline, improving the feeling of wellness for persons with PMS. The adrenal glands are responsible for stress regulation, resistance to infections, metabolism and sexuality. Also, its analgesic effect will ease any aches.
- Blood thinning: If you have a prior history of bleed disorders, you should talk to your doctor before using borage oil. It may increase peripheral circulation, so it may also interact negatively with blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, Plavix and aspirin by increasing their effect.
BORAGE OIL – POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS
- Liver toxins: Borage oil contains amabiline, a pyrrolizidine alkaloid that in high doses is toxic to the liver. For this reason, the German Federal Health Agency recommends no more than 1 microgram of such substances daily. Also, make sure to use Borage oil that is certified free of unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids.
- Prostate Cancer Risk. Studies show that the omega-6 acids found in borage oil may encourage the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. While the possible link between borage and prostate cancer has not been tested directly, men who have had prostate cancer or who have a family history of prostate cancer should not take borage oil.
- Premature labor. Preliminary studies suggest borage oil has a teratogenic effect (causing malformations in the embryo) and that its prostaglandin E agonist action may cause premature labor. Women taking borage oil should discontinue if they are or are trying to become pregnant.
BORAGE OIL – CONCLUSION
Interest in the borage oil from the naturopathic and scientific communities has been steadily increasing in recent years as an increasing number of studies show its broad range of cosmetic and medical uses. Borage oil has a high GLA content, salicylic acid and a number of other compounds and vitamins that mean it is beneficial for a number of conditions, including acne, kidney health, arthritis, cardiac health, weight loss and PMS. Borage oil can be taken as supplements or eaten as a vegetable.