9 Health Benefits of Indian Borage (Mexican Mint)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Ayurveda has well-documented the art of using herbs for multiple purposes. The medicinal properties of plants depend on the presence of certain phytochemicals present in them. Amongst them, Indian Borage (also known as Mexican Mint) has a plethora of health benefits that include its ability to improve skin, detoxify the body, defend against cough and cold, ease arthritis pain, relieve stress, optimize digestion, and even potentially reduce the progression of cancer.

What is Indian Borage (Mexican Mint)?

If you happen to stumble across a small green perennial plant in Africa that smells like Cuban oregano, there’s a good chance you’ve found Indian borage, which is also known by other names, such as Mexican Mint, Spanish thyme, country borage, and others. Although it is native to parts of southern and eastern Africa, the demand for this beneficial herb has caused cultivation to spread to other tropical areas around the world with suitable growing conditions. The plant, whose scientific name is Plectranthus amboinicus, is very hardy and grows quickly, requires little water, and can even grow in colder conditions if the weather changes dramatically.

Indian Borage Uses

The leaves of Indian borage are the most sought-after parts of this plant. Why?

  • They are ideal for flavoring meat and vegetable dishes, while the ground up dried leaves can be added to soups, stews, and other meals as an herb.
  • While essential oils can be extracted from the leaves, they are more commonly used in full or powdered form and can be eaten normally or can be rubbed topically on the skin for some of its effects.
  • Due to the presence of potent phenolics such as rosmarinic acid and caffeic acid, researchers have suggested that it has the potential to be used in nutraceuticals.

 Speaking of medicinal uses, let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of Indian borage.

Close-up of fresh Indian borage placed on halved coconut shells on a wooden table

Fresh Indian borage leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Borage, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]93
Energy [kcal]21
Energy [kJ]88
Protein [g]1.8
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.7
Ash [g]1.44
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]3.06
Calcium, Ca [mg]93
Iron, Fe [mg]3.3
Magnesium, Mg [mg]52
Phosphorus, P [mg]53
Potassium, K [mg]470
Sodium, Na [mg]80
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.2
Copper, Cu [mg]0.13
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.35
Selenium, Se [µg]0.9
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]35
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]0.9
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.04
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.08
Folate, total [µg]13
Folate, food [µg]13
Folate, DFE [µg]13
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]210
Vitamin A, IU [IU]4200
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.17
16:0 [g]0.06
18:0 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.21
16:1 [g]0.19
22:1 [g]0.02
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.11
18:2 [g]0.11
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Indian Borage (Mexican Mint)

Health benefits of Indian borage (Mexican mint) include the following:

Relieves Respiratory Issues

If you are suffering from a cold, a sore throat, congestion, a stuffy nose, or painful sinuses, you can chew on the leaves of Indian borage or brew tea from the leaves. The compounds contained in the herb act as a powerful expectorant to eliminate mucus and phlegm from your respiratory tracts and clear out your sinuses. This can also help to boost your immune system.

Skin Care

One of the most popular uses of Indian borage is as an effective skin treatment. From bug bites and stings to eczema and psoriasis, Indian borage possesses the anti-inflammatory compounds that can quickly reduce redness and swelling, while also eliminating itchiness and irritation. Also, borage oil enhances skin regeneration and stimulates skin cell activity. The presence of gamma-linoleic acid aids in treating skin disorders such as allergies, dermatitis, inflammation, and irritation.

Omega-6 Content

If you do choose to extract the essential oil from the leaves of Indian borage, the volatile compounds in that extract include omega-6 fatty acids, such as gamma-linolenic acid. This specific fatty acid has been linked to reducing arthritis by increasing joint regeneration; this can also be important for athletes or those with osteoporosis who have regular impact stress on their joints and bones.

Vitamin C and A

The high content of ascorbic acid found in the herb makes it important as an immune system booster, while carotenoids and vitamin A content may help improve vision, reducing oxidative stress in the eyes, and even possibly preventing macular degeneration.

Anti-cancer Potential

Research in the Journal of Chemistry found that the stem of the Indian borage plant was rich in antioxidants, with the ability to scavenge free radicals. The extract of this plant helped inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and also showed the potential for antiplatelet aggregation ability. While Mexican Mint has potential applications as functional food ingredients and nutraceuticals, per this research, more research is still needed on this healthy herb.

Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Although one of the lesser-known benefits of Indian borage, some of the organic compounds and minerals have been shown to be mildly sedative in nature. In folk medicine, it has been used as an herbal remedy, particularly in tea form – to those with high anxiety or chronic stress in order to induce relaxation, peace of mind, and healthy, restful sleep.

Health benefits of Indian borage (Mexican mint) infographic

If you are suffering from a cold, a sore throat, congestion, a stuffy nose, or painful sinuses, you can chew on the leaves of Indian borage or brew tea from the leaves.

Enhances Diuresis

Indian borage acts as a very effective diuretic, which means that it can rid the body of toxins by stimulating urination; this also reduces the amount of excess salt, fat, and water in the body, keeping the kidneys and lymphatic system functioning smoothly.

Relieves from Fever

If you are suffering from a cold or flu, a common symptom is a fever. Indian borage is considered to be sudorific, meaning that it stimulates sweating, which also helps to clear out toxins through the skin and speed the recovery process. Moreover, borage is also used in Asia and South America to treat cholera and meningitis. It is also used to treat sensory disorders associated with the ears and eyes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

In folk medicine, Indian borage was commonly used to settle upset stomachs and relieve irritable bowel syndrome by regulating digestion and soothing stomach inflammation. Brewing tea from the leaves of Indian borage is still considered an effective way to take advantage of this health benefit.

Word of caution: The bristly leaves and stems may cause mild contact dermatitis to people with sensitive skin, but generally, there is no allergenic potential in Indian borage. Due to its potent mixture of compounds and chemicals, however, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are discouraged from using the herb.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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