Botanical: Borago officinalis
Family: Boraginaceae (borage)
Other common names: Bee Bread, Burrage, Common Bugloss, Starflower, Bee Plant
"I, Borage, always bring gladness."
- ancient Latin proverb
Spirits need a lift? Borage has a reputation for easing depression and melancholy. It is also believed to soothe the body's mucous membranes, suppress inflammation and help ease arthritis and rheumatism. The herb is known to be rich in gamma linolenic acid, the Omega-6 Fatty Acid that is as essential for overall health as vitamins.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Borage is a handsome annual of the borage family and native to Mediterranean countries. The plant grows to a height of about two feet and has a long history of cultivation as an ornamental in gardens and apiaries for its spray of brilliant blue and purplish flowers, which are most attractive to bees. Hence, we have two of the herb's common names, Bee Plant and Bee Bread. The plant grows in moist, well-drained soil in full sun but will tolerate poor, dry soil, and the thick taproot does not transplant well. Dioscorides wrote of Borage's soothing and calming qualities, and the Roman naturalist, Pliny, praised Borage for its power to make men joyful. The herb's name may be derived from the Gaelic borrach, meaning courage; and in The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes (1597), Gerard extolled its virtues that included the lifting of spirits and driving away sadness, quieting "lunaticke" behavior, and also maintained that the herb's use brought on courage. The leaves and flowers are used for many culinary purposes: Leaves give a cucumber flavor to drinks and are added whole to wine-based drinks; they are also chopped in salads and cream cheese; and in parts of Italy, they are cooked as a vegetable. The flowers are edible and often added to salads or used as a garnish (but turn pink upon contact with acids such as lemon juice or vinegar), and they are also made into syrups or candied as cake decorations. The leaves, flowers and oil from the seeds are used in herbal medicine. Some of Borage's constituents include calcium, choline, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, rosmarinic acid, silicic acid, essential fatty acids (including gamma linolenic acid and linoleic acid), mucilage, saponins, essential oil, tannin, beta-carotene, B-vitamins, vitamin C and the alkaloid, pyrrolizidine.
Borage oil is thought to be a gland balancer that helps to regulate hormonal systems and is said to be effective in helping to relieve menstrual and menopausal problems, particularly with regard to depression and mood swings. As a "galactagogue, Borage has been used to increase the flow of milk in nursing mothers.
Considered a calmative, Borage acts as a mild sedative and is said to be useful for nervous conditions. Borage is also believed to possess herbal antidepressant effects that have been revered for centuries to raise the spirits and reduce melancholy.
The soothing, cooling, mucilaginous substances in Borage account for many of its medicinal effects. Borage is considered a superlative demulcent that soothes mucous membranes, including those of the respiratory system (reducing the discomforts of sore throat, bronchitis, hacking coughs and bronchial infections such as pleurisy and tuberculosis) - and also those irritated tissues of the gastrointestinal system.
Borage is a natural diuretic that has been used for kidney and bladder ailments. The herb is also known to increase perspiration, cool the body and lower fever.
Borage is thought to act as an excellent adrenal gland stimulant and tonic that helps to balance, revive and renew the health of the adrenal gland after medical treatments of cortisone or steroids have been administered.
As an anti-inflammatory, Borage is said to help suppress inflammation of the mucous membranes throughout the body and also help relieve inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and other skin conditions.
Borage contains essential fatty acids and minerals that help to maintain healthy cardiovascular function, as well as healthy skin and nails. Borage is rich in fatty, gamma linolenic acid (or GLA), an Omega-6 Fatty Acid and one of the "good fats " that is thought to be instrumental in lowering blood pressure and considered to be as necessary for your health as vitamins that are commonly lost through normal ageing, dietary fat intake and other effects. It has often been used to restore vitality during convalescence from illness.
Externally, Borage has been used in eyewashes, gargles, mouthwashes and poultices, but contact with the leaves may cause dermatitis in sensitive persons.
The plant (but not the oil) contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that may cause toxicity in the liver, and Borage should never be taken in large doses (many times the recommended amount) or for a long period of time. If you are taking any blood thinning medications, speak with your doctor before using Borage Herbal Supplement.