Borage; borago officinalis

 

Borage, Borago officinalis


A complete in-depth look into the herbal ally, Borage.

 

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Ruling Planet: Jupiter

Ruling Element: Ether, Air

Taste: Slightly Sweet, Pungent (Post Digestive), Salty, Astringent

Energy: Cooling, Moistening

Dosha Effect: PK -V+

Tissue State: Atrophy, Stagnation

Common Name: Borage, Starflower

Family: Boraginaceae

Ayurvedic Name: n/a

Parts Used: Ariel Parts, Flower, Seed

Native Region: Spain

Ruling Chakra: Throat

Botanical Description:

Borage is a bristly plant and should be handled carefully. It has hair covering the stem and leaves. You will also be able to distinguish this plant from others by its fresh scent of cucumber or watermelon. Borage is considered an annual plant, however, it does well self-seeding on its own. Some say this plant can be a nuisance and can take over lawns. Additionally, Borage produces droopy blue to pink flowers in the shape of a star. It’s loved by the bees and does well in poor soil conditions.

Key Constituents:

Calcium, Essential Fatty Acids, Essential Oil, Mucilage, Potassium, Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids, Saponins, Tannin, Vitamin C.

Actions:

Adrenal Restorative, Analgesic, Anti-anemic, Anti-depressant, Anti-inflammatory, Demulcent, Diaphoretic, Diuretic, Emollient, Expectorant, Galactagogue, Laxative, Refrigerant, Tonic. 

Sustainability + Ethics: No known sustainability factors.

Harvesting: Leaves, stem, and flowers are harvested when the flower has bloomed and the seed has shown. Bees will need to be present in order for this plant to pollinate when grown from seed for best results.

Uses: Borage is an adrenal restorative and brings an immense shield of courage around the individual. One of the most powerful use indicators of Borage applies to those who truly struggle with finding an end to their traumatic experiences, and for those experiencing great physical and mental pain. The most common person for the use indication of pain with Borage are women of whom carry a uterus and are going through their mense. 

The aerial parts of Borage, as mentioned earlier, is an adrenal restorative and acts on the energies of stress and mental exhaustion. Borage is also useful for inflammation in the GI tract, and as a demulcent action, it soothes the respiratory system. For skin conditions, the action of emollient makes itself present here with Borage. 

Each part of the plant proves themselves to hold different qualities. For instance, the flower, for example, is used as a diaphoretic, while the leaves are used as a diuretic. Borage seed oil is rich in polyunsaturated fats, more so than evening primrose oil. This means it is useful to support the menstrual cycle, rheumatic pain, eczema, and other chronic skin conditions. Also, Borage seed oil is the richest known plant source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is used in the production of essential compounds in the body, such as prostaglandin E1 and its derivatives. Clinical trials with gamma-linolenic acid have shown that it can markedly affect inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Also, Borage is known to nourish and strengthen the adrenals to build up stamina slowly and safely. It’s also used in cases of the flu to build up resistance. Additionally, Borage addresses cough, sore throats and bronchitis because of its high mucilage content. 

As a flower essence, Borage is used to lighten depression and discouragement, to bring joy, optimism, enthusiasm and good cheer, improve confidence and courage and dispel sadness in the face of danger and troubles.

Borage, however, has been at the center of debate for some time among Herbalists because of the concerns around the pyrrolizidine alkaloid content. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are known to be problematic because they can cause veno-occlusive disease in humans which affects the liver.

Veno-occlusive disease (VOD), which is also called sinusoidal obstruction syndrome (SOS), happens when the small blood vessels that lead into the liver and are inside the liver become blocked. VOD is caused by high doses of chemotherapy and radiation therapy given before an allogeneic stem cell transplant. It develops in the first few weeks after a stem cell transplant and can be mild to severe. Resource Source.

The impact of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) can take time to develop and it is thought that they may result from long term low-level exposure. It is important to keep in mind that toxic PAs are present at almost all levels of our food chain– in milk, eggs, honey, cereals, and meat so we are exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis and yet the veno-occlusive disease remains rare. As such, many herbalists rely on this very useful plant in their practice where they have always tended to do so at low doses, such as 10mls of a 1:5 tincture per week and for a maximum of 6 weeks.

Ingesting Borage can make some people feel a rush of adrenaline as if they put on armor. Which goes back to the statements of Borage being an ally of boundaries and courage. Borage is also ruled by the Planet of Jupiter, but some also suggest it has aspects of Leo because of it’s strong sense of courage like the lion. Energetically, Borage allows us to hold boundaries with others. It allows us to fill up our own cup first before others, especially for those with Kapha energy who tend to give more than they take. A clinical question to ask clients to know if Borage is right for them, is: “Are you able to say no when someone asks you to do something for them?”, if no, Borage may be of use- especially essence.

Lastly, Borage can be paired with Oats to nourish a depleted nervous system, and accompanied by the ally of Rose to feed an exhausted heart. This holds to be a strong pairing especially if a person has just experienced trauma with the passing of a baby, trouble with the womb or menstrual cycles. Being an herb of Jupiter, it brings hope and optimism through times of tunnel vision.

Specific Indications:

  • Melancholic, Depressed, Heart Heavy, Anxious, Depleted, Chronically Tired, Insomnia, Dizziness, Inflamed Eyes, Headache, Tunnel Vision, Bronchitis, Sore Throat, Congestion, Indigestion, Heart Palpitations, Hyperthyroidism, Soften Cervix, Menopausal Hot Flashes, Exhaustion, Rashes, Ringworm, Bites, Mucus, Chickenpox.

Safety: Borage is restricted in some countries due to the cited information earlier in regards to the concerns around the pyrrolizidine alkaloid content. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are known to be problematic because they can cause veno-occlusive disease in humans which affects the liver. Additionally, Borage should not be used in pregnancies, women who are breastfeeding, anyone with liver conditions and should not be used by children.

Next, borage has hair running all around its surface, so one should be careful handling this plant as the pricks can stick to skin.

Adult Dose:

  • Tincture:  1 to 4 ml of a 1:5 tincture 3x/day.*

  • Tea: Infuse 2 teaspoonfuls of the herb and drink 3 times a day.*

  • Seed Oil: 500mg per day **

  • Essence: 3-4 drops, 3-4 x’s daily.

Preparations: Tincture, Tea, Essence, Infused Oil, Water Infusion

 
The Herbarium by the Herbal Academy

 

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References

  1. The Herbal Academy, Herbarium: Borage (paid membership resource)

    https://herbarium.theherbalacademy.com/monographs/#/monograph/5124

  2. The Yoga of Herbs, An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine by Dr. David Frawley and Dr. Vasant Lad.

  3. Secret Medicines From Your Garden, Plants for Healing, Spirituality, and Magic by Ellen Evert Hopman.

  4. Traditional Western Herbal Medicine, As Above So Below by Elisabeth Brooke

  5. Matthew Wood, Materia Medica on Borage

    http://www.matthewwoodherbs.com/Borage.html