Borage oil

Natural herbs and supplements are a great way of giving our body nutrients that it may not be getting in our daily diet. The food industry and fast-paced lives of today are lacking in the proper nutrition our bodies need to function as they should. A great supplement we can take advantage of is borage seed oil.

Borage oil is made from the seeds of the borage plant (Borago officinalis). The borage plant is native to Northern Europe and known for its blue star-shaped flowers. It can be found in North Africa and parts of North America also. The oil derived from these seeds is high in gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA, an essential omega-6 unsaturated fatty acid. Essential Fatty Acids are necessary for brain function, regulation of metabolism, and for the growth and health of bones, hair, and skin.

This fat is found to be beneficial to our health but many of us do not get as much as we need in our diets. Our bodies convert GLA into a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), which has anti-inflammatory properties. This can help with cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Cramps and breast tenderness can be relieved during menstrual cycle and the anti-inflammatory effects can help with ulcers and lupus, and the expectorant and mucilage properties can benefit those with respiratory conditions, sore throat, or cough.

Borage oil is available commercially as bottled oil and in capsule form. To use borage seed oil in your food preparations, mix it into the meal just before serving. This oil should not be heated, and must be used cold to take full advantage of its health benefits. You can also use borage leaves and stems to make an infusion or poultice. They can also be eaten fresh or crystallized.

Borage oil has been shown to contain small amounts of such pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Even small amounts of PAs, especially unsaturated ones, could be toxic to the liver. The use of borage oil should be avoided if the preparations are not certified to be free of these harmful, unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Be sure to keep the oil refrigerated once opened to keep it stable. GLA is damaged due to oxidation if not stored properly. You can slow down the process of oxidation by blending small amounts of vitamin C or E into the oil. Borage oil is not recommended for long-term medicinal use.

Although taken in appropriate forms and dosages, when borage preparations are taken internally, some minor side effects, such as bloating, indigestion, headache, and nausea can occur. If you experience any side effects while using borage oil you should report it to the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food and Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN). Tell your doctor immediately if you have any of these very unlikely but serious side effects: stomach upset, stomach pain, yellowing eyes and skin, or dark urine. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Even though borage seed oil has many health benefits, do not use borage oil if you are taking anticoagulant, since it may prolong bleeding time. Borage oil has also been reported to lower the seizure threshold if taken together with anticonvulsant medications and increase sedation when taken with anxiolytics (tranquilizers). Borage supplements are not recommended for use during pregnancy.

You can buy borage seed oil in health food stores or even order it online. The usual recommended doses of GLA range from 100–300 mg daily (1 tbsp. of bottled oil or 1–3 capsules). The dosage and duration of use, however, are best determined by a qualified herbal practitioner. Borage oil supplements have not been reviewed by the FDA for safety or effectiveness so consult your physician before using this or any herbal supplement.

Last updated on Aug 27th, 2009 and filed under Health Supplements. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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