Posted on Dec. 30, 2005, 8:01 p.m. in Fatty Acids, Lipids & Oils
The borage plant (Borago officinalis) has been exploited for its medicinal properties for more than 400 years. Although research has found little evidence to suggest that the herb itself has any health benefits, borage oil, which is derived from the seeds, may be useful in treating a number of conditions. Borage oil is a rich source of gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an omega-6 essential fatty acid that the body converts to the anti-inflammatory prostaglandin E1 (PGE1).
ROLE IN ANTIAGING:
Borage oil may be of benefit to people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. Results of one study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania revealed that high doses of borage oil (1.4 grams a day) significantly reduced pain and swelling in arthritic joints. Other studies suggest that borage oil combats inflammation and reduces joint damage, however it should be noted that participants in these studies were given very high doses of the oil.
There is some evidence to suggest that borage oil may help people with multiple sclerosis. Some researchers believe that high levels of essential fatty acids present in borage oil could help to combat the inflammation associated with the disease, furthermore these acids may also help to prevent nerve damage. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, GLA also enhances the transmission of nerve impulses. Together, these facts suggest that borage oil may be useful in treating Alzheimer’s-memory disorders. Animal research also suggests that the oil may help to combat stress and high blood pressure (hypertension). Borage oil is also cited as a treatment for acne, eczema, endometriosis, female infertility, gout, impotence, lupus (SLE), PMS, psoriasis, respiratory infections, and rosacea.
DEFICIENCY SYMPTOMS:Not applicable
THERAPEUTIC DAILY AMOUNT:
1,000 - 1,300 mg of borage oil a day will provide roughly 240 to 300 mg of GLA. Taking borage oil with food may improve GLA absorption.
MAXIMUM SAFE LEVEL:
Many studies using borage oil employ relatively high dosages of borage oil. However, study participants are always under close medical supervision. Borage seeds contain small amounts of liver toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA’s). Some research suggests that high-levels of amabiline, a PA present in borage oil, could be carcinogenic and may cause liver damage. There is as yet no established maximum safe level for borage oil, furthermore no studies have been conducted to prove that long-term use or high-dose use of the product poses no threat to health. For these reasons it is important to take borage oil as directed on packaging.
Borage oil may cause bloating, nausea, headache, and indigestion. Taking borage oil with food may reduce the risk of side effects. Epileptics and people taking anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin should consult their doctor before taking borage oil. Because of the potential health hazards of the supplement, pregnant women, nursing women, and children should not take borage oil. People with liver disease should not take borage oil because of the potential risk of liver damage. Several countries discourage the use of borage oil because of the unestablished longterm supplementation effects.