Borage Oil (Starflower Oil)

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Borage oil is a greenish yellow oil with a somewhat fishy smell. Apart from the smell, it is really great for certain medicinal uses. Borage oil comes from the seeds of Borage seeds, which is a flowering plant. Borage oil is also called borage seed oil, and these two can be used interchangeably. This oil has the highest amount of Gamma Linoleic Acid (GLA) , which is an Omega – 6 fatty acid. This selectively high concentration of omega – 6 in borage seed oil is responsible for many powerful health benefits, but some side effects as well. So, before using borage seed oil, one should be aware of its side effects.

The very high amount of GLA makes borage seed oil a suitable natural remedy for rheumatoid arthritis. It is also helpful in compressing swelling on the skin and in other skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Borage oil holds many health benefits specifically for women because of the action of GLA.

Borage Flowers
Borage Flowers ( Photo credit : Wikipedia)

Source

Borage oil comes from the beautiful Borago officinalis. It produces lovely star shaped  flowers in all hues, pink, blue, white. It looks pleasing toe eyes. Borage flowers are edible and used in traditional recipes in the region of Aragon, Spain. It is used as a herb all across Europe for treating stomach irritation, asthma, high blood pressure and for toning the cardiovascular system. Some of the properties of borage oil are similar to that of borage flowers. Herbal tea made with borage flowers has been used by women since medieval times to relieve PMS symptoms and hot flashes.
because of its star shape, borage flowers are also known as starflower and the oil is known as starflower oil.

Properties

Let us investigate the therapeutic properties of borage seed oil.

  • Anti-rheumatic  – via inhibition of synthesis of leukotrienes.
  • Anti-inflammatory – due to GLA, and many other micro-nutrients.
  • Anti-thrombotic  – reduces the chances of developing blood clots.
  • Hypotensive – lowers blood pressure
  • Immune stimulant – has some effect on the immune system.
  • Emollient – reduces dry skin condition.
  • Anti-dermatitis – can be helpful in eczema in some people. The research results are mixed and inconclusive on this condition.
  • Antioxidant – scavenges free radicals.
  • Anti-platelet effect.

Many of the health benefits and uses of borage oil are attributed to these pharmacological properties. The special thing about borage oil is that its results start showing up quickly as it is a strong oil.

Borage Oil
Borage Oil (Image:Shutterstock)

Uses and Health Effects

These are the most prominent uses of borage oil.

Borage Oil For Arthritis

Borage oil has been found to be effective in relieving joint pain and inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. [1] A similar effect is caused by evening primrose oil. Taking these oils in diet reduces the formation of inflammatory metabolic products of Arachidonic acid. DGLA ( dihom0 – gamma linoleic acid ) from borage oil effectively blocks the formation of “pro-inflammatory ” leukotrienes after metabolism of food. This holds the key to reducing inflammation.

How to use borage oil for arthritis ?
Take an empty 1000 mg softgel capsule. Fill it up with borage oil. Make sure that it is cold pressed, organic and extra virgin borage oil. Now, take this capsule once a day. This is a relatively safe way to take borage oil. Its encapsulation in softgel safeguards against potentially harmful stomach irritation.

Borage oil can also be used to massage on the painful joint. It is a carrier oil in aromatherapy.One can add few drops of copaiba essential oil, or wintergreen oil to 4 oz borage oil store it in a dark place. When you want to use it, warm this oil slightly and massage firmly on the joint. This massage helps in reducing arthritic or gouty swelling ( like in the big toe ) and also reduces pain in the joint.

Borage Oil For Eczema

Borage oil has traditionally been used for eczema. One should either apply it topically on the eczema lesions, or take it as a supplement. One should not exceed the dosage of borage oil by 1 gm ( 1000 mg ) per day, just to be on the safe side. Although, research shows that borage oil is not effective at relieving eczema and other forms of dermatitis [2], however there seems to be little harm in trying.

Another way to apply borage oil – Take some loose cotton clothing. Take some water in a spray bottle and add few drops of borage oil to it. Now spray it on the cloth. Let the cloth dry in shade. Now wear this cloth. This home treatment can provide some relief from the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis.

Borage Oil for Acne

One can take borage oil as supplement for reducing acne. Since borage oil is strongly anti-inflammatory, it reduces the size and redness of acne. This effect should be visible in a few days. In many forms, its external effects are as prominent as salmon oil.
Borage oil can also be applied topically on acne prone skin directly ( undiluted ). However, it is always better to do a patch test on the hand. In fact, many acne products contain borage oil in combination with sulfur, salicylic acid and many other ingredients.

Borage oil massage for skin

Borage oil massage is great for skin. It helps in curing dry skin condition in a few weeks [3]. In terms of biological activity, borage oil improves the water retention ( hydration ) capacity of skin, makes it supple and hydrated, improves skin functioning and dissolves away sebum. This way it combats excessively oily skin by taking away the sebum, which is skin’s natural oil.
Borage oil is exceptionally good for many skin problems.

  • Lichen simplex chronicus – This is also called neurodermatits. In this condition person repeatedly itches the skin which leads to scratches and damaged skin. Borage oil massage calms the itching and improves skin condition.
  • Damaged skin – borage oil heals damaged skin from sun damage and due to aging. It is an effective anti-ageing ingredient for healing cracked skin of old age to some extent.
  • Raynaud’s disease  – People who suffer from this disease feel numbness and cold in their hands and feet. Massaging with borage seed oil boosts circulation in the extremities and reduces these symptoms.

Borage Oil for hair growth

There is some indication that borage oil can block the production of DHT to some extent when taken internally. This is very helpful to those people who lose more hair everyday. DHT is responsible in many cases for the hair fall. So, taking borage oil as a supplement ( not more than 1 gm ) can be great for hair growth and for slowing down the hair loss.

One can apply borage oil directly ( undiluted ) to hair, but only apply to bald patches. This may help with hair regrowth in closed hair follicles.

Borage Oil for Kidney Inflammation

Massage borage oil at the lower back just where the kidneys are located from the skin. This may be helpful in lowering the inflammation of the kidneys. This may be helpful in kidney infections.

Mental effects of borage oil

Supplementing diet with organic borage oil can be helpful in stress and schizophrenia[4]. It is speculated that schizophrenia is aggravated by deficiency of healthy fatty acids in blood, which are improved by consumption of borage oil and other healthy fats.
Borage oil may be effective in relieving diabetic neuropathy and multiple sclerosis. It seems to have protective effect on the nervous system and prevent damage to nerves. This is possibly because of a lack of GLA in diet, which gets better when oils such as evening primrose oil and borage oil are taken.

Other ways to use borage oil at home

  • Borage Lotion – One can make a homemade lotion for healthier skin using borage oil. The ingredients are aloe vera gel, borage seed oil, jojoba oil and glycerin as base. Combine them to make a lotion consistency and use on dry or damaged skin.

Borage Oil Benefits

Side Effects, Safe Dosage and Toxicity Issues 

Borage oil can have many side effects. One should take note of these things before using this oil.

  • Borage oil contains Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid (PA) compound called Amabiline, which is toxic to the liver. That is why, this compound is removed from most borage oils during processing. To be on the safe side, one should always make sure that the borage oil is PA free.
  • Borage oil has teratogenic effect and should be absolutely avoided by pregnant women.
  • When taken in higher amounts, borage oil can lead to seizures. This side effect starts at dosage about 1500 mg. When consumed in high amounts for long periods of time, it may lead to Status epilepticus[5], which is state of continued seizure.

Borage oil should therefore be taken in small dosage, below 1000 mg and that too for few days only. Then it should be discontinued for some time. People with any kind of liver disease, liver weakness or a history of convulsions and seizures. It should also not be taken by people who have bleeding disorders or those who are scheduled for surgery.

Nutritional and Medicinal Information

Borage seed oil contains highest amount of gamma – linoleic acid among all plant oils. Other oils high in this nutrient are black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil, of course. This is the in depth fatty acid nutrient profile of borage seed oil.

Nutrient Percentage Property
Gamma Linoleic Acid 20.1 % PUFA
Stearic Acid 3.6% Saturated fat
Palmitic Acid 10 % Saturated fat
Oleic Acid 17.9 % MUFA
Linoleic Acid 38.8 % PUFA
Alpha Linolenic Acid PUFA
Docosenoic Acid 2.2 % PUFA
Eicosenoic Acid 3.8 % PUFA
Behenic traces PUFA
Erucic traces PUFA

Source : Borage Seed Oil – Mountain Rose Herbs

Because of the disproportionate balance of omega – 3 vs omega – 6 in borage oil, people often take flaxseed oil along with it. Flax oil is an excellent source of omega – 3 fatty acids. This combination provides the body with a good mix of both kinds of essential fatty acids.

Isn’t omega – 6 inflammatory in nature ?

All this while, we have been discussing that omega – 6 from borage oil is anti-inflammatory. This is contrary to the common observation that omega – 6 is pro-inflammatory. The difference lies in the fact that omega – 6 in borage oil is mainly γ – linoleic acid which is anti-inflammatory in nature. The other omega – 6 which is commonly found in foods is Linoleic acid, which becomes inflammatory for the body when omega – 3 is low. The key lies in maintaining a healthy balance between omega – 6 and omega – 3.

Other important chemical properties of borage oil.

Nutrient Percentage Property
Density  0.917  g/ml OK for massage oil
Peroxide Value  1.4 Becomes rancid quickly
pH  4.26 Mildly acidic

Source : Borage Seed Oil – Mountain Rose Herbs

Borage oil has got so many health benefits at which it is so effective. There may be many more health benefits of this oil when used in aromatherapy in combination with other oils. Taking it as a health supplement for short periods of time can be healthy in multiple ways.

References

1. Evening primrose oil and borage oil in rheumatologic conditions. Belch JJ1, Hill A. NCBI.
2. Efficacy and tolerability of borage oil in adults and children with atopic eczema: randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, parallel group trial. NCBI.
3. Effect of borage oil consumption on fatty acid metabolism, transepidermal water loss and skin parameters in elderly people. Brosche T, Platt D. NCBI.
4. Polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for schizophrenia. Claire B Irving, Roger Mumby-Croft, L A Joy.
5. Status epilepticus associated with borage oil ingestion.  Al-Khamees WA, Schwartz MD, Alrashdi S, Algren AD, Morgan BW.

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