Borage Uses and Benefits

Borage (Borago officinalis ) or starflower, is a plant with bright blue, star-shaped flowers. Borage seed oil is a cold-pressed extract from the seed of the borage plant. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid that’s important for maintaining a joint’s cell structure and function. Borage oil contains very high levels of two types of polyunsaturated omega-6 essential fatty acids, 20–26% GLA and LA (linolenic acid). Other sources of GLA include black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil.

What is Borage Oil Good For?

Borage oil, are natural source of a fatty acid called GLA (gamma linolenic acid ). This is a “good” fatty acid that is converted in the body to prostaglandin, which has known anti-inflammatory, blood-thinning, and blood vessel dilatory effects. Gamma linolenic acid inhibits leukotriene synthesis to provide treatment in rheumatologic diseases. Therefore, borage seed oil may have anti-inflammatory and anti-thromboti cproperties and benefit individuals at risk of different inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, atopic eczema, and respiratory inflammation. Gamma linolenic acid can enhance cAMP levels which suppresses the synthesis of tumor necrosis factor-alpha – an inflammatory mediator linked to rheumatoid arthritis. Various experiments has underlined its possible use in relieving the pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other inflammatory disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, and ulcerative colitis. Clinical studies have been conducted with borage oil or purified GLA in several diseases.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Borage OilScientists at the “University of Pennsylvania” found that supplement with borage oil resulted in a important reduction in the swelling of affected arthritic joints. The use of borage oil allowed patients to reduce their intake of mainstream NSAIDS, therefore minimizing the adverse effects related with these drugs. Also, animal-based studies using borage oil indicated that the GLA content  protects the lining of the stomach against the effects of NSAIDS and aspirin. GLA may help reduce pain, stiffness, and swelling. One study found that participants with RA (rheumatoid arthritis) who took 2.8 g of gamma linolenic acid for 6 months reduced pain and swelling and improved their grip strength. 64% of those on borage oil demonstrated improvement in joint tenderness and morning stiffness, compared to just 21% of those on placebo treatment.  A randomized controlled study investigated the use of borage oil in 37 participants with RA and active synovitis. After 24 weeks, the group that received 1.4 g of GLA daily had a important decline in the number of tender joints and swollen joints. In another study, 1.1 g of borage  oil was given to seven patients with rheumatoid arthritis for 12 weeks. Six of the seven patients with RA reported relief of their symptoms.


Prostaglandin 1 (PG1) shows a strong anti-inflammatory propertyon the skin and also is effective in regulating water loss and protecting skin from injury and damage. New researches demonstrate that borage oil taken orally increases PG1 levels in the skin and suppresses chronic inflammation. Findings from animal studies shows that skin disorders linked with fatty acid imbalances can be corrected through dietary inclusion of borage oil. In a study was conducted to know the effects of borage oil containing skin creams on dry and damaged skin of 24 healthy participants with dry and scaly skin. It demonstrated that borage oil is able to restore the moisture and softness of dry skin. A small trial in healthy elderly participants reported improved cutaneous barrier function after two months of borage oil supplementation. Supplements containing borage or flaxseed oil may protect skin against reddening and ameliorate skin health from within, suggests study  from Germany and France. The scientists, recruited 45 non-smoking, healthy women between the ages of 18 and 65 and randomly assigned them to one of three groups. Two groups received daily supplements of oil borage or flaxseed oil (2.2 g of total fatty acids), while a third received medium-chain fatty acids as the placebo. Following nicotinate therapy, the scientists noted a important decrease in reddening of the skin in the flaxseed and borage oil groups of 45 and 35%, respectively, compared to baseline values. No differences were recorded in the placebo group. Scientists at the University of Italy conducted a study that documented the important effects that borage oil can have on people with atopic eczema. Scientists have observed that the effects of GLA may continue several weeks or months after stopping the supplement. Oral dose of 548 mg/day, for twelve weeks.


The rich stores of essential fatty acids have useful effects on nails, hair and scalp. Borage oil heals common scalp disorders such as hair loss, dandruff and folliculitis because of its anti-inflammatory properties. A study reported the British Journal of Nutrition demonstrated that flaxseed and borage oil reduced redness and flaky skin in 45 women, ages 18-65.

Periodontitis / Gingivitis

The use of borage oil supplement, a source of the n-6 PUFA, GLA, can have useful effects on periodontal inflammation. The anti-inflammatory activities of both n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been showed in vitro and in several disease states. The effect of n-3 PUFA supplement has been documented in animal models of periodontal inflammation and a trend towards reduced inflammation has been seen in human experimental gingivitis. Borage oil reduce  gingivitis and ameliorate gum health in individuals with inflammation in the areas of the mouth around the teeth (periodontitis), according to a new study in Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids. In this study, 24 participants with periodontitis were randomly assigned to receive one of the following 4 therapies; : 1,000 mg of borage oil 3 times per day, 1,000 mg of fish oil 3 imes per day, 500 mg each of borage and fish oils 3 times per day, or placebo. At the end of 12 weeks, there was a important decrease in gingivitis and depth of pockets around teeth in the borage group.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

There is some findings that borage oil, when taken in combination with EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), might reduce the number of days spent in the intensive care unit (ICU) and the length of time a breathing machine is needed by people with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a medical emergency that leads to lung tissue injury and fluid build-up in the lungs. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA)  work together to reverse the lipid balance and reduce the extent of damage in the pulmonary tissue. Fish Oil, a rich source of EPA, may reduce the body’s production of arachidonic acid, which facilitates the production of potent pro-inflammatory metabolic components. Borage seed oil contains a high content of GLA that is known to act as a substrate for the production of powerful anti-inflammatory eicosanoids on a cellular level in the human body. James Gadek of Ohio State University Medical Center and Michael J. Murray of the Mayo Clinic, have reported that borage seed oil, in a mixture with fish oil and antioxidants, can significantly improve the condition or even the chances of survival in patients with ARDS.

Blood Pressure

Clinical trials of borage oil indicate it to be beneficial in reducing the reactivity of heart and blood vessels to stress.  In a 1996 study reported in the “Journal of Human Hypertension“, participants who received 1 g of GLA per day for four weeks had much lower blood pressure than patients in the placebo group.


Borage oil has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopause. Pre-menstrual syndrome is thought to affect approximately 90%  of women at some point in their lives. GLA seems useful in some women as a remedy to relieve the symptoms of PMS such as abdominal distension, breast discomfort, irritability and depression. GLA is a fatty acid found in vegetable oils. By interfering with the production of inflammatory substances called prostaglandins which are released during menstruation, the GLA in borage oil may help alleviate related cramping and pain.

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