Borage oil, also known as borage seed oil or starflower oil, is made from the seeds of the borage plant, or Borago officinalis, which has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Commonly used as a nutritional supplement, the oil contains the richest dietary reserves of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid used by the body to make prostoglandins. These substances are believed to aid many of the body's normal processes, including regulating the immune system.

Benefits of Borage Oil

Borage PlantIn addition to providing the body with essential GLA, borage oil is also used to treat several joint and skin disorders. A recent study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania found that patients taking at least 1.4 grams of borage seed oil per day, which is considered a high dosage, experienced a significant reduction in pain caused by inflammation and joint damage. Other benefits of the oil include:
  • Treating eczema, atopic dermatitis and seborrhea
  • Preventing premenstrual syndrome
  • Treating diabetes
  • Lowering high cholesterol
  • Treating Alzheimer's disease
  • Combating multiple sclerosis
  • Reducing the symptoms of gout
  • Treating psoriasis and rosacea
How to Take Borage Seed Oil

Taking 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of borage seed oil per day provides the body with approximately 240 to 300 milligrams of GLA, the oil's most active ingredient. Taking the oil with food is believed to improve the body's absorption of the substance. In most cases, the oil is available in capsule form at local natural health and drug stores.

Borage seeds contain small amounts of liver toxins known as pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which may cause damage if taken for long periods. For this reason, always check the packaging to make sure these substances are not contained within the oil prior to taking internally. Also, many studies using borage oil administer very high doses, but the patients are always under the supervision of a qualified physician. For the best results, always take borage seed oil according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Side Effects of Borage Oil and Drug Interactions

Borage oil may produce mild side effects in some individuals including nausea, indigestion, headache and bloating. These effects typically go away after the body becomes accustomed to the oil and taking it with food may prevent them in the first place. Epileptics, people taking blood thinning medications, individuals with liver disease and women who are pregnant or nursing should not take borage seed oil.

The long-term effects of taking borage oil are currently unknown, but many physicians discourage its long-term use. No studies have been performed to prove it does not pose a health risk after taking high doses for long periods. Always consult your doctor before taking any new herbal supplement to make sure it is safe for you.