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Borage Herb - Dosage and Useful Properties

Taxonomic Class

Boraginaceae

Common Trade Names

Borage Oil, Borage Oil Capsules, Borage Power

Common Forms

Capsules (softgels): 240 mg, 500 mg, 1,300 mg borage seed oil (oil contains 20% to 26% gamma linolenic acid [GLAJ).

Source

Active COmponents of the drug are obtained from the leaves, stems, flowers, and especially the seeds of borage (Baraga officinalis), a hardy annual that grows in Europe and eastern United States.

Chemical Components

Borage seed contains a mucilage, tannin, an essential oil, malic acid, and potassium nitrate. The fatty acid component of the seed oil consists of linoleic acid, GLA, oleic acid, and saturated fatty acids. The oil also contains small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, notably amabiline, a known hepatotoxin.

Actions

The mucilage component of borage produces an expectorant-like action. The malic acid and potassium nitrate components produce a mild diuretic effect.

GLA from borage seeds may suppress inflammation and joint tissue injury. It is rapidly converted to dihomogammalinoleic acid, an immediate precursor of monoenoic prostaglandin E1 which has potent anti­inflammatory activity .

Topical borage oil may be effective for dermatitis because of uptake of GLA into the stratum corneum, thereby increasing the water-binding capacity of the stratum corneum, resulting in a smooth surface .

Borage may increase dihomogammalinolenic acid, possibly resulting in increased prostaglandin E1 which has vasodilator and bronchodilator effects in pulmonary vasculature.

Borage teas are claimed to have soothing effects. Studies in rats and humans have suggested that borage can calm the CV response to stress. In one study, borage oil reduced systolic blood pressure and heart rate and reportedly improved the ability to perform tasks. This clinical trial used daily doses of 1.3 g for 28 days but involved only 10 persons. The mechanism of action is unknown .

Reported Uses

Borage leaves have been part of European herbal medicine for centuries. During medieval times, the leaves and flowers were steeped in wine and taken to dispel melancholy. Borage has been used to treat bronchitis and colds and is claimed to possess anti-inflammatory, diaphoretic, expectorant, and tonic properties.More recently, it. has been used to treat rheumatoid arthritis , and study results show moderate improvement in symptoms . Borage oil has been used to treat atopic dermatitis, eczema, and infantile seborrheic dermatitis . It has been studied in cystic fibrosis patients as well, demonstrating statistically nonsignificant increases in vital capacity and forced expiratory volume .

Dosage

For atopic dermatitis and eczema: 2 to 3 g of borage oil P.O. in divided doses, or 3% to 10% borage oil applied topically b.i.d..

For infantile seborrheic dermatitis: 0.5 ml applied topically to the scalp b.i.d. until lesions clear and then 2 to 3 times/week until age 6 to 7 months.

For rheumatoid arthritis: 1.4 g GLA (6 to 7 g of borage) P.O. in divided doses t.i.d. after meals.

Adverse Reactions

  • CNS: temporal lobe epilepsy.

  • GI: belching, constipation, flatulence, loose stools. Hepatic: hepatic dysfunction.

Interactions

  • Anticonvulsants: May decrease efficacy of these drugs. Avoid administration with borage.

  • Antihypertensives: May increase hypotensive effect of these drugs. Avoid administration with borage.

  • CNS stimulants, epileptogenics: May increase reduction in seizure threshold. Avoid administration with borage.

Contraindications And Precautions

Borage is contraindicated in patients who are hypersensitive to this herb or any of its components and in pregnant or breast-feeding patients; effects are unknown. Schizophrenics and patients receiving epileptogenic drugs are at increased risk for temporal lobe epilepsy . Borage may be carcinogenic and hepatotoxic .

Special Considerations

  • Monitor liver function test results periodically in patients who take borage.

  • Urge the patient with liver impairment to avoid using borage because it may cause further hepatic dysfunction.

  • Caution the patient with a seizure disorder to avoid using borage.

  • Advise women to avoid using borage during pregnancy or when breast-feeding.

Points of Interest

Borage oil (star flower oil) is used as an alternative to evening primrose oil as a source of GLA.

Commentary

A few studies in rats and humans suggest that borage has value as an anti-inflammatory for rheumatoid arthritis. Two controlled clinical trials have demonstrated improvements in signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and active synovitis. Its exact role in therapy and questions about its efficacy and safety remain unresolved. Borage may also be effective for atopic dermatitis, eczema, and infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Other claims for this product are largely unsubstantiated.

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