Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage is an annual plant that grows wild in the Mediterranean countries and is cultivated elsewhere. The hollow, bristly, branched & spreading stem grows up to 2 feet tall. The flowers are collected between April and September, the seeds when ripe in the autumn. The leaves should be gathered just as the plant is coming into flower, but can be harvested throughout the growing season.
Borage is classified as a diuretic with demulcent and emollient properties. The leaves, flowers and seeds are good to overcome melancholy. The leaves & roots are used during fevers to defend the heart, and to resist and expel the poison or venom of other creatures. The seed and leaves are good to increase the milk in women's breasts.
The primary chemical constituents of Borage leaves & flowers include mucilage, tannin, saponins, essential oil, alkaloid (pyrrolizidine), vitamin C, calcium, and potassium. The seeds contain essential fatty acids, linoleic acid, and gamma-linolenic acid. Borage acts as a restorative agent on the adrenal cortex. In other words, Borage will revive & renew the adrenal glands after a medical treatment of cortisone or steroids. There is a growing need for remedies that will aid this gland with the stress it is exposed to, both externally and internally. It may also be used during fevers and especially during convalescence. It has a reputation as an anti-inflammatory herb used in conditions such as pleurisy. The leaves and seeds stimulate the flow or milk in nursing mothers; it is also said to improve mood in menopausal depression.
Borage helps prevent inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa in cases of allergy and infection, and it may also assist in iron absorption. It can be used externally as a compress or poultice for inflammation, or as an eyewash to relieve irritation. A hot infusion of Borage has a diaphoretic effect in the treatment of colds and flu, and the presence of saponins is probably responsible for its expectorant action, while the mucilage in the leaves help to soothe the respiratory tract in dry, rasping coughs. It is indicated in bronchitis, catarrh, and congested membranes, and the flowers were a traditional ingredient in several cough syrups. Recently, the oil from the seeds has been found to be a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), the same substance as in Evening Primrose oil, which is popularly used for a number of conditions including skin diseases such as eczema, and also for pre-menstrual tension and painful breasts, and migraine. GLA is one of the two main types of essential fatty acids. These are "good" fats that are as necessary for your health as vitamins. Specifically, GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid. Many people in Western societies may be at least partially GLA-deficient as a result of aging, glucose intolerance, dietary fat intake, and other problems, though the exact incidence of deficiency remains unknown. People with deficiencies benefit from supplemental GLA intake from Borage.