Borage Oil

While modern science has found little evidence that the Herb itself has any therapeutic effects, its seed oil does appear to help in treating a number of conditions, from rheumatoid arthritis to menstrual problems. Research has shown that borage oil's medicinal effects can be traced to its rich stores of a therapeutic Fat called gamma linolenic acid (GLA).
What is Borage Oil?
Borage oil is a natural product that is used in many ways from cooking to medical uses. It is made from the Borage plant, which is actually an herb, and can be found growing wild in the Mediterranean area of the world. It is also found in Great Britain, Europe and in North America.

The borage plant is also called star flower, tailwort, bugloss or beebread. It grows to about one and a half feet tall and has been harvested for its leaves and stems, as well as the seeds. The ancient Romans used to brew the leaves for a medicinal tea. These days it is the seeds that it is mostly grown for, as they are what are used to make borage oil.

Where it is found?
Borage oil is found primarily in supplements. Its presumed active ingredient, GLA, can also be found in black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil supplements.

Benefits / uses
Borage oil is one of the best known sources of the essential fatty acid known as gamma linolenic acid or GLA. It is also called Omega-6. It has 24 percent of this valuable substance, which is even higher than evening primrose oil or black currant seed oil. Because of this, it is made into nutritional supplements and sold in health stores and other retail outlets.

GLA is something that many people in western societies are deficient in due to aging, fat consumption, glucose intolerance, and other factors. It is also useful in helping people with premenstrual syndrome, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and scleroderma due to these individuals having a metabolic block that prevents their body from making GLA. It is also used in other medicinal ways, such as to treat arthritis, atopic eczema and some forms of respiratory problems. It works for these because of its anti-inflammatory factors.

In research testing of its use in people with rheumatoid arthritis patients were given between 1.4 and 2.8 grams of borage oil a day for eight weeks in a double blind set of trials. The results were considered successful since it worked to help the people who received it in the tests. It was also shown that .5 ml of the oil could be used daily as a topical treatment for seborrhea and that the condition would become stable within three weeks of usage.

Another good thing for medical patients is that there is no common interaction between borage and other medicines at the time of this writing.

Skin : Experiments have been done that show the many benefits of borage oil for the skin. In one test, 20 people with dry and scaly skin were given borage based cream to use for two weeks. The oil was able to restore the moisture content in their skin and help to make it more smooth and soft.

Another test of this oil and skin conditions involved 48 babies who had a severe case of cradle cap, which is a form of infant seborrhoic dermatitis, in which the babies had dry, crusty and scaly skin on their heads, eyelids, face, breasts, groin areas and under their armpits. This oil was used on the affected areas twice a day and their problems were cured in two weeks.

This shows how effective borage oil is in helping with various skin conditions, as when the treatment was stopped, the babies got the cradle cap again within a week. It was thought that these babies weren’t able to produce their own sufficient levels of GLA to prevent the dry and scaly skin conditions and the oil supplied it until their systems matured.

Other Benefits of borage oil
The GLA produced by borage oil is also a precursor for prostaglandins, which are used in many of the functions in our bodies such as hormone production, maintaining blood pressure, and regulating the body’s autonomic or smooth muscle reflexes. GLA also helps to get rid of plaque in the arteries of the blood system so helps to relieve hardening of the arteries, which also helps to prevent heart problems. It can also help get rid of the symptoms of hot flashes, which are common when a woman is going through menopause.

Other conditions that this oil is thought to possibly help is multiple sclerosis due to its ability to reduce inflammation, which is evident in the disease. Some testing with animals has shown it may also help get rid of stress or lower blood pressure.

Undocumented ways borage oil is useful
Borage oil is also said to help in ways that haven’t been proven in testing. These include helping get rid of hangovers, helping prevent aging, help treat lupus, PMS, gout, infertility and get rid of wrinkles.

Available Forms: Softgel, Oil, Capsule.

1,000 to 1,300 mg of borage oil daily. This provides 240 to 300 mg of GLA (respectively), the main healing ingredient. Nearly equivalent doses of GLA can be found in 3,000 mg of evening primrose oil or 1,500 mg of black currant seed oil.

Possible Side effects / Precautions / Possible Interactions:
This oil does, however, have some minor side effects that are possible with its usage. These may involve symptoms such as nausea, bloating, headache and possible seizures. Pregnant women should not take or use this oil and neither should anyone who has hemophilia or is taking warfarin because this oil has blood thinning properties.

Borage oil is also thought to inhibit lymphocyte functions, so people who have any sort of immune deficiency disorder should also not use it.

Research studies / References:
arw Leventhal LJ, Boyce EG, Zurier RB. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with gammalinolenic acid. Ann Intern Med. 1993 Nov 1;119(9):867-73.
arw Zurier RB, Rossetti RG, Jacobson EW, et al. Gamma-Linolenic acid treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Nov;39(11):1808-17.
arw Belch JJ, Hill A. Evening primrose oil and borage oil in rheumatologic conditions. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Jan;71(1 Suppl):352S-6S.
arw Henz BM, Jablonska S, van de Kerkhof PC, et al. Double-blind, multicentre analysis of the efficacy of borage oil in patients with atopic eczema. Br J Dermatol. 1999 Apr;140(4):685-8.
arw Ben-Shabat S, Benisty R, Wormser U, Sintov AC. Vitamin D3-based conjugates for topical treatment of psoriasis: synthesis, antiproliferative activity, and cutaneous penetration studies. Pharm Res. 2005 Jan;22(1):50-7.
arw Liao S. Androgen action: molecular mechanism and medical application. J Formos Med Assoc. 1994 Sep;93(9):741-51.
arw Godfrey DG, Stimson WH, Watson J, Belch JF, Sturrock RD. Effects of dietary supplementation on autoimmunity in the MRL/Ipr mouse: a preliminary investigation. Ann Rheum Dis. 1986 Dec;45(12):1019-24.
arw Dines KC, Cotter MA, Cameron NE. Effectiveness of natural oils as sources of gamma-linolenic acid to correct peripheral nerve conduction velocity abnormalities in diabetic rats: modulation by thromboxane A2 inhibition. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1996 Sep;55(3):159-65.
arw Harbige LS, Layward L, Morris-Downes MM, Dumonde DC, Amor S. The protective effects of omega-6 fatty acids in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in relation to transforming growth factor-beta 1 (TGF-beta1) upregulation and increased prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production. Clin Exp Immunol. 2000 Dec;122(3):445-52.
arw Gadek JE, DeMichele SJ, Karistad MD, et al. Effect of enteral feeding with eicosapentaenoic acid, gamma-linolenic acid, and antioxidants in patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Enteral Nutrition in ARDS Study Group. Crit Care Med. 1999 Aug;27(8):1409-20.
arw Engler MM, Engler MB, Erickson SK, Paul SM. Dietary gamma-linolenic acid lowers blood pressure and alters aortic reactivity and cholesterol metabolism in hypertension. J Hypertens. 1992 Oct;10(10):1197-204.
arw Engler MM. Comparative study of diets enriched with evening primrose, black currant, borage or fungal oils on blood pressure and pressor responses in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 1993 Oct;49(4):809-14.
arw Mills DE, Prkachin KM, Harvey KA, Ward RP. Dietary fatty acid supplementation alters stress reactivity and performance in man. J Hum Hypertens. 1989 Apr;3(2):111-6.