Borage

Borago officinalis

Borage is an annual herb that grows up to 60 cm tall. It has an erect stem with a velvet layer of hairs. The leaves are lanceolate and progressively lessen towards the apex. The five-petalled flowers are blue with black stamens.

The plant grows well in urban areas. It is common to see Borage thriving in most gardens, parks and abandoned corners of the city.

Pliny wrote that Borage was the famous Nepenthe of Homer which when drunk steeped in wine, brought absolute forgetfulness.

Borage has several traditional uses. It can be eaten fresh as a salad, or oil can be produced from its seeds. The fresh parts of the plants are used in the Mediterranean area as a refreshing summer drink.

Traditional uses
  • Borage is used for stomach pain, sore throat, intestinal regularization, as a diuretic, and as a hypotensive1,8,3,9
  • In some parts of Italy, borage mixed with the common onion is used to promote lactation2
Properties
  • Clinical trials have demonstrated positive effects in curing the skin disorder dermatitis4
  • Borage seed oil has potential as a treatment for osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis4 (clinical trials)
  • Plant extracts have antioxidant properties5,6 (in vivo)
How it can be used
  • Aerial parts of the plant are usually the most common part used as food, and in some cases to promote lactationand address stomach problems1
  • Oil extract from the Borage seed is widely used for rheumatic arthritis4 and also for certain skin conditions and respiratory inflammation
Precautions
  • Borage herb contains changeable quantities of toxic substances, is therefore prohibited for pregnant women1. Do not use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding
  • People with liver problems should not use this plant7
The information provided here is only intended to augment people's awareness and knowledge of the properties and uses of some plants. This information is not intended to substitute advice from a physician and is not a substitute for professional medical care. The authors do not recommend collecting and using wild plants from an urban environment as these can be contaminated by several types of pollutants that are harmful to human health. Although references are provided and information has been compiled with care, errors may be present. The remedies listed here should not be used without prior consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. The authors are not responsible for any adverse effect or consequences resulting from the use of the information published in this website.
References
  • In vitro evidence: evidence from studies using isolated components of living organisms such as cells or purified molecules
  • In vivo evidence: evidence from studies with whole living organisms
  • Clinical trial evidence: evidence from clinical trials conducted with humans
  1. Pieszak M. Mikolajczak PL. Manikowska K. 2012 Borage (Borago officinalis L.) – a valuable medicinal plant used in herbal medicine. Kerla Polonica 58: 95-103.
  2. Montesano V. Negro D. Sarli G. De Lisi A. Laghetti G. Hammer K. 2012 Notes about the uses of plants by one of the last healers in the Basilicata Region (South Italy) Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 8:15.
  3. Brosche T, Platt D. Effect of borage oil consumption on fatty acid metabolism, transepidermal water loss and skin parameters in elderly people. Arch Gerontol Geriatr 2000; 30:139–50.
  4. Capasso F. Gaginella TS. Grandolini G. Izzo AA. Phytotheraphy, a quick reference to herbal medicine 2003 Springer Berlin, New York.  406. 
  5. BandonienėD. Venskutonis PR. Gruzdienė D. Murkovic M. 2002 Antioxidative activity of sage (Salvia officinalis L.), savory (Satureja hortensis L.) and borage (Borago officinalis L.) extracts in rapeseed oil. European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 104: 286–292.
  6. Bandonien D. Murkovic M. 2002 The detection of radical scavenging compounds in crude extract of borage (Borago officinalis L.) by using an on-line HPLC-DPPH method. Journal of Biochemical and Biophysical Methods. 53: 45–49.
  7. Plants for a future website: http://www.pfaf.org
  8. Guarrera, P. M. & Savo, V. Perceived health properties of wild and cultivated food plants in local and popular traditions of Italy: A review. J. Ethnopharmacol. 146, 659–680 (2013).
  9. Pieroni, A. & Quave, C. L. Traditional pharmacopoeias and medicines among Albanians and Italians in southern Italy: A comparison. J. Ethnopharmacol. 101, 258–270 (2005).
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