Borage/starflower (Borago Officinalis)
Borage also known as Starflower is a beautiful flowering plant that grows in the wild in the Mediterranean. It is cultivated and used widely throughout Europe for its healing properties and for a nice addition to a salad. Borage is also cultivated in the US, where it is more popular as an herbal supplement rather than a food product. The leaves are robust and have medicinal properties and the topper of the plant is a striking blue star shaped flower hence the name. The flowers are edible as well and are often found candied for cake decorations or made into sweet syrups. In Italy it is served as a side dish much like a serving of vegetables.
Borage is from the Boraginaceae family and has the proper name of Borago officinalis. Borage is also known as the Bee plant and Bee Bread because the blue purplish star shaped flower attracts bees all summer long. Throughout history Borage has been used to treat a multitude of ailments and to improve overall health. The Romans would mix Borage tea and wine prior to combat, most likely to fortify themselves for the battle.
There are multiple health benefits one can get from taking borage as a herbal supplement. One of the most important nutrients in borage is essential fatty acids, something our body needs for good health. Essential fatty acids must be ingested from diet. An essential fatty acid deficiency can directly affect mood, internal inflammation and various cellular functions. In order for metabolic processes such as cardiovascular functions to work properly, they depend on the proper levels of essential fatty acids in the body. EFA's also improve hair and nail growth and appearance. Specifically, Borage has very high levels of GLA, gamma linolenic acid, an important essential fatty acid. Borage is often used to boost GLA deficiencies in children as well to ensure proper growth.
Borage is also packed with other healthy nutrients that are great for the body. Borage is a good herbal supplement for women because it contains high levels of calcium and iron, nutrients many women are deficient in. Potassium, Zinc, B and C Vitamins, and beta carotene are packed into the Borage plant making it very nutritional.
The adrenal glands in our body work very hard all day to prepare our body for fight or flight situations, constantly releasing adrenalin into the body. Adrenal fatigue can occur when the body is overstressed. Borage is used to restore the adrenal glands to their natural balance, which in turn creates a calmer body and mind.
Borage is well known for its soothing qualities and has been used to treat nervous conditions. Its natural sedative effects have been used for lifting the spirits and softening the nervous edge some people experience. Borage works well to ease the depression and mood swings often associated with menopause and menstrual cycles as well and is a nice alternative to traditional prescription medications.
There are many current ongoing studies involving the health benefits of Borage. Borage is currently being researched as a possible treatment for rheumatoid arthritis because of it's anti inflammatory properties. Because of research like this, Borage is now known to reduce itch and dryness associated with certain skin disorders such as eczema and dermatitis.
Borage can be found in a caplet form, or as a liquid extract of the plant. Borage oil is distilled from the seeds of the plant and used topically or taken internally. It is not recommended to be taken long term internally due to the concentration of alkaloids in Borage that can damage the liver. A typical dose of the caplet or extract form is one to two grams per day. The dried leaves can be brewed into a tea, which has been said to have a refreshing cucumber like flavor.
Borage/Starflower Herb Notes / Side Effects
It is not recommended that Borage be taken long term internally because of the concentration of alkaloids in Borage that can damage the liver. Do not take Borage if you are taking anti-coagulants without discussing it with your doctor first. Nausea, cramping, bloating and headache are side effects that Borage can cause, although they are relatively mild.
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