Borage oil, also known as starflower oil and borage seed oil, comes from the seeds of the borage plant (Borago officinalis). People are deficient in GLA due to aging, glucose intolerance, dietary fat intake, etc. And this is actually where borage oil supplements come in. Borage oil offers an abundant source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is noted for having a lot of health benefits.
Borage oil has both anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties, and as such, it has been used to help with rheumatoid arthritis, in terms of joint pain and swelling. Borage oil appears to be effective in some cases of arthritis and may even help with other inflammatory ailments, such as Sjogren's syndrome and ulcerative colitis.
Aside from this, borage oil is said to also help with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema. It is believed to be able to reduce skin inflammation, dryness, scaliness, and itchiness.
There was a study made of borage oil which involved a group of children suffering from the skin condition infantile seborrheic dermatitis. They were treated with borage oil, and after 10-12 days, "all of the children were free from skin lesions, even in the areas not treated with borage. Moreover, using the oil topically two to three times a week kept the seborrhea in remission until the patients were six to seven months old. " However, there was also a study wherein patients who suffered from eczema were given borage oil. And unfortunately, they were unable to experience similar results.
Borage oil is also believed to be able to help with cancer. "Borage oil has been used with some preliminary success in some cancers, principally cerebral gliomas."
In addition, it has also been used to help with the inflammation of the lungs, as well as symptoms of menopausal disorders.
People sometimes experience mild side effects when taking borage oil supplements such as bloating, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, diarrhea and headache. Call the doctor, though, if you experience side effects such as stomach upset, stomach pain, yellowing eyes and skin, and dark urine.
When not to use
Borage seeds from which borage oil is derived from, supposedly contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA), which are toxic to the liver. Hence, do not take borage oil supplements if you have any liver problems.
People who are pregnant, as well as those with seizure disorders, hemophilia / other hemorrhagic diatheses, and immune deficiency disorders like AIDS should consult a doctor first before taking borage oil supplements.
Those with hemophilia or other hemorrhagic diatheses that take anticoagulants like warfarin and antiplatelet drugs (eg aspirin & NSAIDs) should avoid borage oil supplements. In addition, supplements that have antithrombotic activity such as fish oils should also avoid taking borage oil. This is because it would result in negative effects such as nosebleeds, as well as a susceptibility to bruising.
Secondly, those with seizure disorders such as schizophrenia who are taking neuroleptic medications such as aliphatic phenothiazines (eg chlorpromazine) should also avoid using borage oil, since it can lead to other types of seizures.
Lastly, borage oil should not be used with herbs such as garlic (Allium sativum) and ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba).