I, Borage, Always Bring Courage

by Dannika Soukoroff, Chartered Herbalist

 

Photo by cornelia kopp on flickr. License: Attribution

 

This article was written by my coworker and friend; Dannika Soukoroff. She is a chartered herbalist and is very experienced in the supplement industry. Dannika is a wealth of information about herbs and holistic wellness. Today she is going to tell you all about borage and what it can do for you.

Borago officianlis commonly known as “borage” is possibly my favourite plant that I have encountered. Also known as cool-tankard, talewort and bee bread, borage is an annual herb. It prefers full sun, moist, sandy, well-drained soil and is drought tolerant once it is well established. While its’ stunning beauty attracts the bees to your garden, it is known as nuisance by some because of it’s natural tendency to reseed itself.

 

Photo by olibac on flickr. License: Attribution

 

Medicinally speaking, the leaves and flowers of borage are used as an adrenal tonic. The purpose of using this plant to support our adrenal glands is to simply help our body to maintain its’ homeostasis. When the body is faced with an situation that it identifies as stressful (stressful job, chronic illness, over indulgence in foods, or substance abuse) the adrenals become stimulated and release the cortisol hormone as a response. When this cycle is repeated over and over again in unnecessary instances, the adrenals become over worked and over stimulated, always over producing this stress hormone. This is when your immune system, endocrine system and over all vitality can start to diminish. In order to keep our body functioning properly in times of stress we can use borage to support our adrenal function. In this way, it also helps us to maintain a healthy immune system and well balanced hormones.

 

Borage is also used traditionally as a:
  • Diuretic (increases urine flow)
  • Expectorant (helps cleanse the respiratory tract of excess build up)
  • Diaphoretic (increases the body temperature to bring on sweating)
  • Lactation aid for breastfeeding

 

Borage contains many beneficial constituents, such as : saponins, mucilage, tannins, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. It can be used as a tincture (alcohol or vinegar extraction), also in tea, infusions, and syrups.

 

 

Besides the use of the flowers and leaves which we see less of, the seeds are more commonplace in our modern use of borage. The seeds contain GLA (Gamma-Linolenic Acid) which is commonly used nutritionally to help regulate hormones in women, and also to support healthy skin. While evening primrose oil also contains GLA, it is not as viable as sourcing it from borage oil.

Gamma-Linolenic acid is the converted form of LA (Linolenic acid). In a healthy and well functioning person, linolenic acid can be easily converted into GLA. However, in a body where the digestive function is impaired LA cannot be converted properly and can actually cause more issues! The D6D enzyme is necessary for converting LA to GLA. Hormonal imbalances, inflammation, increased allergic responses and impaired immune function are all symptoms of a D6D enzyme deficiency. We can avoid these uncomfortable occurrences in the body by supplementing with GLA directly.

GLA is also essential for us women to keep our hormones and cycles in check! GLA is essential in healthy menstrual cycles because it is converted into anti-inflammatory prostaglandins which help curb painful menstruation and breast pain. Prostaglandins are like hormones (they act as signals for the body) except they are not secreted by a gland, instead they are made at the required site via chemical reaction. If you are suffering from PMS there is a chance that you are not converting GLA properly and are producing prostaglandins that are inflammatory instead of anti-inflammatory.

 

 

One teaspoon of the liquid supplement contains 500 mg of GLA. There are also softgels available that contain 240 mg of GLA per soft gel. I prefer the liquid because it is a higher dosage, more easily absorbed into the system, and I get tired of taking pills!

Besides all the fancy benefits of borage, you can also make use of it in more creative and delicious ways! The flowers themselves taste of cucumber and look beautiful on salads or can be candied and put on desserts.

 

Photo by george westley on flickr. License: Attribution-noncommerical-noderivs

 

“In 1597 John Gerard, a well renowned Herbalist quotes ‘Borago gaudia semper ago’ – ‘I, Borage always bring courage‘.”

 

References

1. Vanderhaeghe, Lorna, Karst, Karlene, Healthy Fats For Life, Kingston, Ontario, Quarry Health Books,2003.
2. Peters, Laura, Herb Gardening for Canada, Lone Pine Publishing, 2008.
3. Ody, Penelope, The Complete Medicinal Herbal, DK Publishing Inc, 1993.
4. McIntyre, Anne, The Complete Herbal Tutor, Octopus Publishing, 2010.

 

Thank you so much Dannika for sharing all this great information about borage with us! I definitely learned a lot reading your article. If you have any questions for Dannika, feel free to leave them below.

 

 

How do you use borage?

 

 
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