Guide to borage oil, all the distinguishing features and ways to use it

FInd out all the benefits and properties

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By Kenny G

Borage oil

Borage oil is derived from the cold-press extraction of the seeds of the borage plant, renowned for its remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, benefiting both internal and external health.

As a potent natural antioxidant, it helps combat skin aging and serves as an effective anti-inflammatory, addressing common dermatological conditions. It improves blood circulation, boosts the immune system, and exerts a balancing effect on the female hormonal system. It can be consumed orally or applied topically for skincare.

Let’s delve deeper into its properties, extraction process, and optimal usage.

What is Borage Oil?

This essential oil is obtained through cold-press extraction of the seeds from the borage plant.

It is widely recognized for its numerous properties, making it valuable in nutrition, cosmetics, and medicine.

Its primary characteristic, as mentioned earlier, is its anti-inflammatory power, making it an excellent supplement and regulator of the immune system.

When taken orally, it provides cardiovascular benefits. When applied topically, it helps regulate sebum production, addresses various skin issues, and acts as an anti-aging remedy due to its high content of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).

GLA is also found in vegetable oils like evening primrose oil, oily seeds such as hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts, as well as certain grains like oats and the algae spirulina.

Borage oil contains other polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-6, which promotes artery health by facilitating vasodilation and preventing the buildup of bad cholesterol.

It is also distinguished by its hormone-balancing effects on the female hormonal system, making it beneficial during premenstrual phases and for alleviating menopausal symptoms. This property is attributed to the presence of phytoestrogens, plant hormones found in the borage plant.

The Borage Plant

Borago officinalis, commonly known as borage, is a classic aromatic herb used in cuisine, with numerous applications in cosmetics and health.

Native to the Orient but now widespread as a wild plant throughout Europe and America, it can be easily found along roadsides, riverbanks, walls, and uncultivated lands. It is cultivated in temperate regions worldwide.

Belonging to the Boraginaceae family, its name derives from the Latin word “borra,” meaning “rough woolen fabric,” referring to the hairy covering on its leaves.

The plant is an annual herbaceous type with a stem that can reach a maximum height of 80 cm. Its oval, dark green leaves are covered in rough hair. The flowers, with five star-shaped petals, are blue-violet in color, pendulous at full bloom, and short-lived. The fruits contain achenes, which house small seeds from which the oil is extracted.

These seeds, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, possess anti-inflammatory properties and protect the cardiovascular system. Through a cold-pressing process, a valuable vegetable oil is obtained.

How Borage Oil is Extracted

The main part of the plant used for extracting borage oil is the seeds. The collection of the seeds typically takes place between July and October.

The method for obtaining the oil involves a lengthy cold-pressing process. This delicate procedure preserves all the qualities of the seeds, which are an important source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), commonly referred to as an essential semi-fatty acid belonging to the omega-6 category.

What is the Composition

From the first cold-pressing of borage seeds, a very small amount of oil is extracted, which is rich in polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids, as indicated in the table below:

Component Percentage/weight
Alpha-linolenic acid 32-38%
Linoleic acid 18-25%
Oleic acid 15-19%

Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for boosting the immune defenses against allergies and chronic infections.

This oil is also rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant used to counteract the action of free radicals and protect against skin aging. It is excellent for reducing wrinkles on the face and maintaining soft and hydrated skin.

It contains a significant amount of important minerals, from calcium to potassium to tannins, all of which are beneficial substances for skin protection. It also contains phytosterols that protect the skin from aging and the harmful effects of UV rays.

How to Make It at Home

Since it is an oil extracted from the seeds of this aromatic plant, you will need an extractor. Alternatively, you can try making an oil infusion with borage seeds by soaking them in a carrier oil of your choice, such as seed oil or another vegetable oil, for 15 days, away from light, and then filtering it.

Uses: Properties and Benefits

Borage oil possesses various beneficial properties for both the body and the skin.

The omega-6 fatty acids it contains help inhibit the risk of thrombosis by promoting the dilation of blood vessels and assist in reducing cholesterol synthesis. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and activate T-lymphocytes, thereby stimulating the immune system.

Thanks to the presence of phytoestrogens such as estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin, it appears to play an important role in stimulating the production of breast milk and regulating the mood swings typical of premenstrual syndrome.

It is used to lower blood pressure, as an adjunct treatment for diabetes, and to provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis. It also has a laxative, detoxifying, and expectorant effect.

On the skin, it is particularly useful for combating acne as it rebalances sebum production and has astringent properties. It acts as a tonic on microcirculation, alleviates couperose, and treats cellulite.

Being rich in omega-6 fatty acids, vitamin E, and vitamin A, it is a perfect anti-aging ingredient. It counters free radicals, reducing and delaying the appearance of wrinkles, and can be used to protect the face from sun exposure and environmental agents. Moreover, it is an excellent moisturizer that can be applied to delicate areas like the breasts.

In addition to moisturizing, it is effective in treating severe irritations of dry skin, including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis. It is recommended for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, which is common in children and infants.

It is useful for treating ovarian cystitis, eliminating dandruff, and also for strengthening nails.

Main Benefits

Among the beneficial actions for health provided by this oil, we can mention:

  • Improves circulation and blood pressure
  • Lowers high cholesterol
  • Positively affects the nervous system
  • Alleviates symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Helps with menstrual cycle or menopause disorders
  • Expectorant for bronchitis
  • Protects against liver damage for those who abuse alcoholic substances
  • Reinforces the action of insulin

Among the beauty virtues of oil extracted from Borago officinalis seeds, we can mention:

  • Combats aging
  • Improves dry or oily skin
  • Fights acne, especially if caused by hormonal imbalances
  • Reduces dermatological conditions such as dermatitis or psoriasis
  • Diminishes stretch marks
  • Reduces dark circles and under-eye bags
  • Strengthens nails and hair
  • Reduces skin spots

Other Various Uses

The leaves and flowering tops can be used in a cooked herbal tea as a diuretic and emollient for soft tissues, as they are particularly rich in mucilage, which has a laxative and soothing effect, similar to the mucilage of marshmallow and flaxseeds.

On the skin, 6 ml of borage oil can be combined with 20 ml of tea tree oil, which will enhance the anti-inflammatory effect useful for acne. Damaged or dry skin can benefit from compresses made with 20 ml of borage oil and 4 ml of carrot essential oil.

By mixing 6 ml of carrot essential oil with 20 ml of borage oil, an excellent anti-wrinkle oil is obtained. A natural remedy for cellulite involves combining it with 3 ml of geranium essential oil and 3 ml of ylang-ylang essential oil, to be applied multiple times a day.

When and How to Take Borage Oil

It can be used directly on the affected area, gently patting with the fingers or massaging the area.

On the skin

In cases of eczema, psoriasis, or other skin conditions, a few drops of pure oil can be applied and gently patted directly onto the affected area, followed by massaging with the fingers.

For cosmetic use, it is recommended to dilute it in jojoba oil to enhance its moisturizing power or in wheat germ oil to boost its nourishing action. For reducing dark spots on the body and face, daily use is recommended.

For hair

It can help with dry and damaged hair and the scalp. Its emollient action makes the hair stronger and shinier, and it is also a natural remedy against dandruff and split ends. It is recommended to prepare a hair mask by combining it with sweet almond oil and leaving it on for approximately 30 minutes after shampooing. Rinse and dry gently. The hair will appear immediately soft and hydrated.

Against acne

It can be applied directly to the face or the affected area to combat acne or reduce seborrheic dermatitis, eczema, and various skin inflammations aggravated by hormonal imbalances.

Against hormonal imbalances

It can also be taken orally in the form of pearls to alleviate menstrual-related disorders and hormone-related acne.

How to take borage oil

This precious oil can be purchased in its pure form and is also suitable for culinary use. It is also available in pearls and tablets, primarily used as supplements. Additionally, many beauty products containing borage oil are available in the market.

The dosage varies depending on the intended use, and it is advisable to consult an herbalist or a doctor for the most suitable dosage for different issues.

How many milligrams of borage oil per day

There is no recommended dosage by health authorities. However, most sellers of dietary supplements recommend doses ranging from 500 mg to 2000 mg of oil per day.

A borage-based therapy can be undertaken on an occasional basis, and it is not advisable to follow it throughout the year. In any case, it is recommended to follow the instructions provided by the supplier or consult an herbalist or a doctor, especially regarding any allergies or interactions with medications.

For internal use as a dietary supplement, it can also be used in cooking to dress salads and other dishes. In this case, it is recommended to mix 1-2 tablespoons with olive oil. It is also available as a dietary supplement in the form of pearls: 1 or 2 pearls should be taken daily for a period ranging from 1-2 months.

The pearls should be taken with water during meal.

Borage oil

For external use, it can be applied directly to the skin until absorbed, helping to counteract certain dermatological conditions under the guidance of a doctor.

However, it is also a beauty product for skin, nails, and hair, and can be used as a protective oil against UV rays, preferably when combined with a cream or another vegetable oil. Applied to the skin in the evening, it has antioxidant and reparative effects, and when added to a night cream, it can enhance its anti-aging effect.

Where to buy borage oil

Borage seed oil can be easily purchased at herbal shops and online. It is important to choose an oil that comes from organic cultivation. This way, you can avoid pesticides and heavy metals.

Furthermore, it is crucial to choose cold-pressed oil. This gentle production process does not damage the seeds and therefore does not compromise the final quality of the product, especially the presence of gamma-linolenic acid.

It is available in the market as 100% pure natural oil without additives or preservatives, ready to be applied to the skin. It has an expiration date, and once opened, it should be consumed within 6 months.

It is also available as an internal supplement in the form of pearls, coated with vegetarian (vegan) gel, which protects it against oxidation. These pearls do not contain carrageenan or gelatin and are ready to be ingested. They can be purchased at herbal shops, pharmacies, some supermarkets, and online. They also have an expiration date.

How much does it cost

You can find it in various specialized stores, as well as in the supplement section of supermarkets. It is also available for purchase online. The price can vary greatly depending on the brand, the type of store, whether it is organic, and the extraction method.

Always prefer a cold-pressed organic product and avoid products extracted with solvents. It costs approximately 15-30 USD for a 100 ml bottle. For the supplement, expect to pay around 15 USD for every 50 capsules.

What are the contraindications of borage oil

The borage plant contains some alkaloids that can be toxic and potentially carcinogenic and harmful to the liver. However, studies focus on the consumption of the leaves and flowers at high doses and in a raw state.

To avoid intoxication, the plant should be consumed cooked, especially during pregnancy, breastfeeding, or for individuals with liver problems.

As for the oil extracted from its seeds, it does not seem to have any side effects. However, it should still be used with caution, and it is advisable to inform your doctor if you are taking any medications to avoid possible interactions.

If taken in high doses, it may cause gastrointestinal reactions such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence.

It is contraindicated for patients hypersensitive to the active principle of the plant and not recommended for oral use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

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