Overview

Borage is a plant. Its flowers and leaves, as well as the oil from its seeds are used as medicine.

Borage seed oil is used for skin disorders including eczema (atopic dermatitis), red, itchy rash on the scalp (seborrheic dermatitis), and a type of skin condition called neurodermatitis. It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), swelling of the gums, stress, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alcoholism, pain and swelling (inflammation), asthma, and for preventing heart disease and stroke. Borage oil is sometimes added to infant formula in small amounts to provide fatty acids needed to promote development of preterm infants.

Borage flower and leaves are used for fever, cough, and depression.

Borage is also used for a hormone problem called adrenal insufficiency, for "blood purification," to increase urine flow, to prevent inflammation of the lungs, as a sedative, and to promote sweating. Borage is also used to increase breast milk production and to treat bronchitis and colds.

Borage is applied to the skin for red, itchy rash on the scalp of infants (seborrheic dermatitis) and is also used in a dressing to soften the skin.

In foods, borage is eaten in salads and soups.

In manufacturing, borage is used in skin care products.

How does it work ?

Borage seed oil contains a fatty acid called gamma linolenic acid (GLA). GLA seems to have anti-inflammatory effects. Borage flower might have an antioxidant effect.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Improving the function of the lungs in critically ill patients. There is some evidence that borage seed oil, when taken by mouth in combination with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), might reduce the number of days spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) and the length of time a breathing machine is needed by patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
  • Growth and development in premature infants. Infant formula supplemented with fatty acids from borage oil and fish oils seems to improve growth and development of the nervous system in infants born early, especially boys.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is some evidence that taking borage seed oil in combination with conventional painkilling or anti-inflammatory medications might help decrease symptoms of RA after six weeks of treatment. The improvement appears to last for up to 24 weeks. Improvement is measured as a decrease in the number and severity of tender and swollen joints.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Itchy, red skin (eczema). Taking borage seed oil by mouth does not seem to improve eczema in adults or children.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Asthma. Early research suggests that taking borage oil daily for 12 months does not improve asthma symptoms.
  • A dental condition called periodontitis. Early research suggests that taking borage oil daily for 12 weeks improves gum inflammation but does not reduce plaque in people with periodontitis.
  • A skin condition in infants called seborrheic dermatitis. There is some evidence that topical application of borage seed oil might be helpful for infantile seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that causes a red, itchy rash on the scalp. It seems to heal the condition within 1 to 3 weeks.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Diabetes.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  • Alcoholism.
  • Heart disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Depression.
  • Dry skin.
  • Arthritis.
  • Pain relief.
  • Inflamed veins (phlebitis).
  • Menopausal disorders.
  • Fluid retention.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of borage for these uses.

Side Effects

Borage seed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately.

Borage seed oil is LIKELY UNSAFE when products containing a dangerous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are taken by mouth. Borage plant parts including the leaf, flower, and seed can contain PAs. PAs can damage the liver or cause cancer, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. Only use products that are certified and labeled PA-free.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Borage seed oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth or applied to the skin appropriately.

Borage seed oil is LIKELY UNSAFE when products containing a dangerous chemicals called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) are taken by mouth. Borage plant parts including the leaf, flower, and seed can contain PAs. PAs can damage the liver or cause cancer, especially when used in high doses or for a long time. Only use products that are certified and labeled PA-free.

Children: Borage see oil is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Borage seed oil is LIKELY UNSAFE when products containing PA are taken by mouth.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Borage seed oil is LIKELY UNSAFE during pregnancy and while breast-feeding. It is important to avoid borage products that might contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). PAs are a risk to the mother because they can cause serious liver disease and might cause cancer. PAs are also a risk to the infant because they might cause birth defects and they can pass into breast milk. Researchers are not sure if borage products that are certified PA-free are safe during pregnancy and breast-feeding. It is best to stay safe and avoid using borage.

Bleeding disorders: There is some concern that borage seed oil might prolong bleeding time and increase the risk of bruising and bleeding. If you have a bleeding disorder, use borage with caution.

Liver disease: Borage products containing hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) might make liver disease worse.

Surgery: Borage might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop taking borage at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Medications that increase the breakdown of other medications by the liver (Cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4) inducers) interacts with BORAGE

    Borage is broken down by the liver. Some chemicals that form when the liver breaks down borage seed oil can be harmful. Medications that cause the liver to break down borage seed oil might enhance the toxic effects of chemicals contained in borage seed oil.

    Some of these medicines include carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin, rifabutin (Mycobutin), and others.

  • Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs) interacts with BORAGE

    Borage seed oil might slow blood clotting in some people. Borage seed oil contains GLA (gamma linolenic acid). GLA is the part of borage seed oil that might slow blood clotting. Taking borage seed oil along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

    Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

  • Phenothiazines interacts with BORAGE

    Taking supplements containing gamma linolenic acid, such as borage, with phenothiazines might increase the risk of having a seizure in some people.
    Some phenothiazines include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), thioridazine (Mellaril), and others.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For rheumatoid arthritis (RA): 4.5-7.2 grams of borage seed oil daily for up to 24 weeks.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • For growth and development in premature infants: Infant formula containing borage oil and fish oils has been used. Borage oil and fish oil have been added to the formula to provide 0.9 grams of gamma linolenic acid, 0.1 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid, and 0.5 grams of docosahexaenoic acid per 100 grams of fat (13745).
View References

CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.