By Karen Appold
Borage oil gets its medicinal effects from rich reserves of an essential fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid. The body converts GLA to a hormone-like substance called prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) that blocks inflammation. This makes borage oil a good nutritional supplement for treatment of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. PGE1 also plays a role with normal calcium mobilization from the bones. Therefore, it helps to maintain bone density and prevents associated muscular-skeletal disorders.
Of all autoimmune disorders that have been studied, borage oil seems to be most beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis. Patients reported decreased swelling in their joints and some could reduce their need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Here are some other possible medicinal benefits of borage oil:
Helps with issues related to the female reproductive system. Borage oil may reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome, fibrocystic breasts, and endometriosis because it eases inflammation. By improving uterine function, GLA may also help women who can’t conceive.
Helps with issues related to the male reproductive system. By aiding blood flow, GLA can treat compromised circulation–a primary cause of male infertility.
Treats respiratory conditions. Borage oil contains mucilage, a gummy substance that soothes mucous membranes irritated by coughing. By working as an expectorant, mucilage makes it easier to cough up mucus.
Aids dermatological conditions. GLA and other essential fatty acids calm inflammation. Therefore, borage oil may reduce signs of psoriasis and eczema. These same essential fatty acids may reduce pore clogs and consequently lesions, helping to clear acne and rosacea.
Fights damage from multiple sclerosis. Borage oil’s essential fatty acids may help to reduce inflammation and aid in healthy nerve development.
While more research is needed, borage oil may also help to lower high blood pressure, treat memory disorders related to Alzheimer’s disease, alleviate inflammation associated with lupus, treat gout, prevent nerve damage resulting from diabetes, and provide nutrients to hair, scalp, and nails.
Borage oil is most often taken in the form of a capsule; it can also be applied topically. It should contain an antioxidant, such as vitamin E, to protect against product oxidation and prolong shelf life.