Today I thought I would blog about one of the herbs that people may not know about. Borage has a very long history as an antidepressant herb. Elizabethan cooks used the flowers in salads to “make the mind glad.”. It has been brewed into beer and was a staple in the Roman Army where the troops were often away from home and family for years at a time.
Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine lists some of the uses of Borage as:
- Strengthen adrenal glands
- Mental exhaustion
Other benefits from borage oil include increasing courage, relieving symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis, improving lung function in critically ill patients and improving the growth rate of premature infants. Recently it has been found to be a rich source of GLA gamma-linolenic acid which is an essential fatty acid. It is therefore beneficial for menstrual irregularities, irritable bowel syndrome and skin problem.
Borage calms and soothes more than the emotions. Some of it’s major uses include preventing inflammation of the stomach and intestines, soothing irritated tissue and strengthening the adrenal glands. It is thought that an external application of the oil can help to reduce the wrinkles of old age. It is also beneficial in treating eczema.
The adrenal glands sit on top of your kidneys and are responsible for the Fight or Flight response. For a more complete explanation of the adrenals see Endocrineweb.
Adrenal Fatigue is a group of symptoms such as depression, anxiety, muscle aches and many others, thought to be caused by the adrenal glands functioning below normal. The ability of borage to increase courage and reduce anxiety may come from the fact that it stimulates the production of adrenaline which is the fight or flight hormone.
From a personal perspective I highly recommend Borage Oil for keeping your heart “Merry”. I researched this herb at a point in time where I was being downsized from my corporate career. There were so many references to borage making for a happy heart that I decided it was something I needed. In less than a day I was feeling much happier and stronger. One caution here is that I do not take medication of any kind so I react very quickly to anything I do take. The timeframe for the effects of borage oil to kick in will vary depending on what else you are taking.
Borage interacts with chemicals and medications that are broken down by the liver. It also interacts with anticoagulants and anaesthesia. For a more comprehensive look at interactions for borage check out WebMD.
One final benefit of Borage is that it is a favourite of bumble bees. Since the number of bees is in decline, anything that helps them out is welcome in my garden!
From its use as an old Italian remedy to increase breast milk in nursing mothers to its use in increasing courage and reducing stress to its current use in salads and summer drinks like Pimms it is clear that borage will continue to be a useful herb for many years to come.
THIS BLOG IS NOT INTENDED TO REPLACE THE ADVICE OF YOUR DOCTOR.
Bartram Thomas, Bartram’s Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, Marlowe & Company, New York