Borage, scientific name Borago officinalis, is actually an annual herb. Vastly cultivated in North Africa, South America, Europe, Mediterranean region and several parts of Asia, borage has its origins in Syria. It is also known as starflower as its flowers are set in the shape of five narrow pointed petals that look like a star. The flowers of the borage plant are light blue in color and bloom simultaneously. The borage plant has simple patterned leaves that may also have prolific spreading as well. Milder climates suit the borage plant enabling it to bloom in such regions throughout the year.
Health Benefits of Borage Oil
Borage oil is derived from borage seeds which contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that the body converts into hormone like materials called prostaglandin E1 or PGE1. Unlike trans fats and saturated fats, PGE1 has anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for the thinning of blood, blood vessel dilation, and overall body health improvement.
The oil has been in use for medicinal and culinary purposes since the Roman era. Many authors and poets described it as a mysterious plant having many healing properties, especially the leaves, stems and seeds of the plant. Today, the borage plant is mainly cultivated for commercial purposes which also involves skincare benefits along with its other health benefits.
Recent researches confirmed the borage oil's benefits for modulating pulmonary inflammation which is beneficial for improving oxygenation and lung compliance. Use of the oil can help in solving inflammatory problems like skin inflammation, eczema, skin dryness, cutaneous and inflammatory skin disorders, and application of this oil helps in reducing itching and skin lesions in infants.
The oil helps improve blood circulation as it prevents unnecessary clotting of blood. Borage oil benefits include reduced risk of high blood pressure too. The GLA from the oil reduces body serums, as a result of which the body stays away from high cholesterol levels and heart disease. The oil helps prevent accumulation of atherosclerotic plaque. Thus, it reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Cancer and Nerve Impulses
Researches show that the oil helps prevent certain types of cancer, especially of the prostate. The oil suppresses tumor growth, hence it could be beneficial in preventing cancer and inhibiting the effects of other carcinogenic substances. It helps in transmission of nerve impulses and also prevents nerve damage. Use of borage oil also improves peripheral neuropathy.
Skin Care and Female Problems
When taken as a dietary supplement, borage oil reduces skin aging, dryness, and roughness of the skin, and it also works as a curative for psoriasis. It helps in the prevention and treatment of several female medical conditions like premenstrual symptoms (PMS), female infertility, endometriosis, hot flashes, cramping during ovulation, breast tenderness, mood swings, menopausal symptoms, and similar other issues.
Fresh borage tastes like cucumber and is used for salads as well as garnishing several cuisines. The flowers (starflowers) are used for garnishing desserts and sweet cuisines. It is very commonly used as a vegetable in Spain, Germany, and Italy.
Insufficient production of the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) can result in several health related issues. As borage oil is an essential source of GLA, taking borage oil nutritional supplements with a regular diet can be beneficial for helping the body to develop and maintain the amount of GLA and to perform its normal functions.
The oil helps prevent and cure several conditions like depression, stress, and rheumatic arthritis. Intake of borage oil supplements of about 1.1 gm to 2.8 gm a day can evade GLA deficiency. It is best to take the oil dosage as per the proper instructions from health care providers, which will avoid any side effects of the oil.
Overdose or intake of borage oil without proper medical intervention can result in several side effects like nausea, diarrhea, intoxication, liver problems, indigestion, stomach bloating, and severe headaches as well. Proper medical intervention can help a person utilize all the borage oil benefits in order to make life easy and healthy!