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Borage (Boragoofficinalis)

Borage - Herb and Edible Flower

  • Space plants: 20 cm apart
  • Harvest in 8-10 weeks. Use leaves before flowers appear, otherwise they will be 'hairy'
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Strawberry, tomatoes, zucchini/squash. Deters pests from many plants
  • A tall, attractive plant, often grown in flowerbeds. Bright blue star-shaped edible flowers. Grow in a sunny spot with well-drained fertile soil. Borage dies down in the winter, but probably you will not need to buy any more seeds as it self-seeds quite vigorously and spreads around the garden. Luckily, it is so attractive that it adds to the general design
  • Will grow almost anywhere but prefers well-drained soil. Can be transplanted when young but older plants do not move well

Potential Health and Medicinal Benefits

  • Borage is an herb that has long been prized for its health-promoting properties
  • It’s especially rich in gamma linoleic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid that has been shown to decrease inflammation
  • Borage may also help treat several conditions, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and atopic dermatitis
  • However, there are some serious side effects to consider, and certain groups of people should avoid this ingredient altogether
  • In traditional medicine, borage has been used to dilate blood vessels, act as a sedative, and treat seizures
  • Both the leaves and flowers of the plant are edible and commonly used as a garnish, dried herb, or vegetable in a variety of drinks and dishes
  • The leaves are sometimes also ground up and steeped in hot water to brew herbal tea
  • Meanwhile, the seeds are used to make borage oil, which is usually applied topically to the hair and skin
  • Furthermore, borage is widely available in supplement form and used to treat a variety of respiratory and digestive disorders
  • Some research has shown that borage may possess powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Additionally, one study in 74 people even observed that taking a borage oil supplement for 18 months, with or without fish oil, reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, an inflammatory disorder
  • Several studies have found that borage extract could help relieve symptoms of asthma by decreasing inflammation and swelling in the airways
  • In one study, consuming capsules containing borage oil and echium seed oil daily for 3 weeks decreased levels of inflammation in 37 people with mild asthma
  • More research is needed to evaluate how borage extract may affect asthma and inflammation
  • Borage oil contains high amounts of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that’s integral to the structure and function of your skin.
  • Borage may help promote wound healing and repair your skin’s natural barrier
  • Some research has found that borage may benefit several common skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis, which is a type of eczema

Potential side effects

  • Like other essential oils, borage oil should not be ingested but rather applied topically
  • Before applying, be sure to dilute borage oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut or avocado oil, to prevent skin irritation
  • You should also perform a patch test by applying a small amount to your skin and checking for any adverse reactions
  • You can also find softgel supplements at many health stores and pharmacies, typically in doses ranging from 300–1,000 mg
  • Loose-leaf or prepackaged teas are available as well, which can be steeped in hot water to make a soothing cup of borage tea
  • Borage supplements may be associated with mild side effects, including digestive issues like gas, bloating, and indigestion
  • In rare cases, taking high doses of borage oil has been shown to cause more serious side effects, including seizures
  • These supplements may also interact with some medications, including blood thinners
  • Keep in mind that the borage plant also contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs), which are compounds that can be toxic to the liver and may contribute to cancer growth
  • However, these compounds are mostly removed during processing and PA-free borage supplements are widely available
  • What’s more, borage should not be used by those with liver problems or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are going to use Borage to treat an existing health condition please consult with your healthcare provider first.