Borage, or Borago officinalis, is a flowering plant that is also known as a starflower. Borage is a flowering plant with purple blooms and therapeutic qualities. Boraginaceae is a flowering plant family that includes annual herbs. It is endemic to the Mediterranean region, but it has spread around the world.

Growing Borage - How To Grow And Use Borage Plant In The Garden

It grows well in most European gardens, including those in Denmark, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, and self-seeds to stay in the garden year after year. The plant’s leaves and blossoms are edible, and they’re frequently used as a garnish, dried herb, or vegetable in a number of beverages and meals. Herbal tea is made by grinding the leaves and steeping them in hot water. In the meanwhile, the seeds are used to create borage oil, which is used to treat hair and skin. The plant is grown commercially for the oil produced from its seeds, which is known as borage seed oil.

Gamma-linolenic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid found in borage seed oil. GLA is a fatty acid that is generated naturally in the body and has anti-inflammatory properties. Borage also includes mucilage, a sticky combination of plant sugars that can be used as an expectorant to help cough sufferers produce phlegm. Borage has been advocated for rheumatoid arthritis, skin inflammation, diabetic nerve pain, menopausal symptoms, and gastrointestinal problems, however evidence on its efficacy to alleviate rheumatoid arthritis symptoms is very minimal.


Borage seed oil makes up 26–38 percent of the seeds, with 17–28 percent of it being gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), the richest known source.

The fatty acids palmitic acid (10–11%), stearic acid (3.5–4.5%), oleic acid (16–20%), linoleic acid (35–38%), eicosenoic acid (3.5–5.5%), erucic acid (1.5–3.5%), and nervonic acid (1.5–3.5%) are also present in the oil (1.5 percent).

Although healthy individuals generally create enough GLA from dietary linoleic acid, the oil is commonly sold as “starflower oil” or “borage oil” for use as a GLA supplement.

The liver-toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) intermedine, lycopsamine, amabiline, and supinine, as well as the nontoxic saturated PA thesinine, are found in small amounts (2–10 ppm of dried herb). Borage seed oil contains PAs as well, but they can be removed through processing.

Health benefits of borage

1.Alleviate inflammation

According to certain studies, borage may have potent anti-inflammatory effects.

Borage seed oil has been shown to protect cells against oxidative cell damage, which can lead to inflammation.

2.Promote skin health

Borage oil is rich in gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that plays an important role in the formation and function of your skin.

Borage oil is also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, which can help with wound healing and restoring your skin’s natural barrier. According to some studies, borage can help with a variety of skin problems, including atopic dermatitis, a kind of eczema.

3.Help treat asthma

Borage extract has been shown in several trials to help alleviate asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation and edema in the airways.

4.Improving the function of the lungs in critically ill patients

There is some evidence that taking borage seed oil with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) reduces the number of days spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) and the length of time patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome require a breathing machine (ARDS).

5.Growth and development in premature infants

Infant formula enriched with fatty acids from borage oil and fish oils appears to promote nervous system growth and development in premature babies, particularly males.

6.Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

There is some evidence that using borage seed oil in conjunction with traditional pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines can help to reduce RA symptoms.

Borage in cancer

The in vivo tests demonstrated their safety for human ingestion as well as their antigenotoxicity potency, indicating that they can protect DNA from damage and so provide health advantages. The results of the in vitro tests show that B. officinalis fresh plant may be used as a nutraceutical plant and a possible source of dietary bioactives with anticarcinogenic action. In this regard, B. officinalis is a desirable Mediterranean plant that is well suited to the European environment and provides a good supply of medicinal compounds, making it a popular topic in plant study.

Borage seed oil has anti-mutagenic and antioxidant characteristics that inhibit cancer cell development. It also has cytotoxic effects, reducing the life duration of malignant cells while increasing the lifespan of healthy cells.

Mechanism of Action

The high GLA concentration of borage oil is thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory effects. Linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic, eicosenoic, and erucic acids are among the fatty acids found in it. GLA can be converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, a precursor of prostaglandins (DGLA). DGLA can prevent arachidonic acid from being converted to leukotrienes and other prostaglandins. TNF-alpha, an inflammatory mediator associated with rheumatoid arthritis, is inhibited by GLA, which raises cAMP levels. The mucilage component acts as an expectorant, and malic acid act as a moderate diuretic.

A borage oil formulation inhibited alpha-amylase, an enzyme that hydrolyzes 1,4-alpha-glucoside linkages in oligo- and polysaccharides, the first stage in the digestion of dietary starch and glycogen, in vitro. Borage oil reduced amyloid-beta-induced long-term potentiation disruption in the hippocampus dentate gyrus in animal models, indicating a neuroprotective effect related to free radical scavenging. Borage-enriched sunflower oil inhibited osteoblast-induced osteoclast development, counteracting pro-inflammatory pathways and preventing senile osteoporosis.

In human trials, dietary supplementation with borage and echium seed oils reduced polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) levels and decreased leukotriene synthesis, resulting in anti-inflammatory benefits in moderate asthmatics.

Although aerial portions of borage show affinity for the serotonin transporter, its toxicity profile prevents it from being developed further as a herbal medicine. Amabiline, lycopsamine, intermedine, acetyl lycopsamine, and acetylintermedine are some of the pyrrolizidine alkaloids found in borage, and they are hepatotoxic. Borage oil is also teratogenic, and its prostaglandin E agonist activity can lead to early labor.

Side Effects

Children: Borage seed oil is possibly safe when consumed correctly by mouth. Borage seed oil is likely unsafe when taken by mouth with PA-containing products.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Borage seed oil is almost certainly unsafe to consume during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s crucial to stay away from borage products that include pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs put the mother’s health at danger since they can cause significant liver damage and even cancer. PAs can also harm a newborn since they can induce birth abnormalities and transfer through breast milk. To be on the safe side, avoid using borage.

Bleeding disorders: There is some worry that borage seed oil may raise the risk of bruising and bleeding by lengthening the time it takes for blood to clot. Borage should be used with caution if you have a bleeding condition.

Liver disease: Borage products containing pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are hepatotoxic, may aggravate liver illness.

Although it has been recommended as a substitute for evening primrose oil as a source of GLA, borage seed oil can be harmful to the liver and should be avoided in long-term usage, especially by individuals with liver problems.