14 Surprising Benefits of Borage Oil

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

There are many benefits to borage oil including its ability to lower inflammation, soothe pain, lower stress levels, reduce blood sugar, protect heart health, improve female health, decrease skin disorders, aid in weight loss, prevent chronic disease, calm hyperactivity, and lower respiratory distress.

What is Borage Oil?

Borage oil is made from a wildflower of the same name, although it is often called starflower. Scientifically known as Borago officinalis, this flower is native to the Mediterranean region, although its products are now available in many different parts of the world. This flower is praised for its seeds, which are composed of roughly 25% borage oil. [1]

Borage oil is the richest known source of gamma-linolenic acid (also known as GLA), an extremely beneficial fatty acid, in addition to significant amounts of stearic acid, eicosenoic acid, palmitic acid, nervonic acid, erucic acid, and other antioxidants. As one of the most nutrient-dense oils on the market, it is highly sought after for its medicinal applications, and new research is ongoing for potential uses for this uniquely powerful oil.

Borage Oil Benefits and Uses

Many people choose to use borage oil if they are struggling with stress, skin inflammation, painful menstruation, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, high toxicity, ADHD, flu, cough, congestion, chronic pain, anxiety, and oxidative stress, as well as those who are looking to lower their chances of cancer.

Relieves Inflammation

The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in borage oil can have antioxidant effects on the body, helping relieve inflammation and oxidative stress, thus lowering the risk of chronic disease, and even helping fend off cancerous growth. [2]

DNA Protection and Lower Risk of Cancer

Various studies have been conducted to determine the effect of borage and its oil on cancer. A 2013 research paper suggests that a diet that consists of borage oil is beneficial as this oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA helps to protect you from DNA damage and also has the ability to fight cancer. [3] [4]

Treats Respiratory Problems

A small glass bottle containing borage oil, surrounded by borage flowers, and placed atop a wooden table.

Borageoil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties.Photo Credit: Shutterstock

The mucilage found in borage oil is able to effectively eliminate respiratory issues, including infections and congestion. It can cut through the phlegm and mucus, while also attacking the underlying infection and soothing sore throats and respiratory tracts. [5]

Relieves Pain

Pain relief is commonly associated with the use of borage oil, particularly for breast pain, chronic pain, and soreness associated with injuries or surgeries. By stimulating the release of certain hormones, and impacting the pain receptors in the body, this oil can ease tension and relieve even chronic pain conditions.

Omega-6 fatty acids, which are found in high levels in borage oil, are able to control prostaglandin production, which regulates inflammation throughout the body. Gamma-linolenic acid is also directly linked to lubricating the joints, making it an ideal remedy for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. [6]

Prevents Heart Diseases

With a huge range of fatty acids and the highest known level of gamma-linolenic acid, this oil is extremely good for heart health. It is an anticoagulant and a hypotensive substance and helps in balancing cholesterol levels as well. Thus it protects against atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. [7]

Skin Care

When you apply borage oil topically to your face, chest, or neck that is affected by acne, it can quickly moisturize that skin, flush out toxins, and return sebum production to normal levels. In addition to inflammation, this can quickly heal and soothe the symptoms of acne, while also reducing the appearance of scars and blemishes from this condition. [8]

Reduces Obesity

Not commonly known as a popular weight loss supplement, borage oil can stimulate the metabolism and decrease appetite. This oil also improves your cholesterol profile, leading to less fat deposition and more energy to be active and burn off calories. [9]

Hair Care

Traditionally, borage oil was used on the hair to reduce frizzy or dry hair, while also rubbed into the scalp in order to moisturize the skin and prevent dry skin or dandruff. It can also eliminate oxidative stress in the scalp and boost hair growth, even if a person is beginning to go bald. [10]

Relieves PMS Symptoms

Borage oil is very popular with women who experience painful periods by stimulating the adrenal glands. It positively affects the hormonal balance, helping relieve breast tenderness, painful cramps, mood swings, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. [11]

Controls Diabetes

For those who deal with diabetes on a daily basis, using borage oil can help regulate blood sugar and insulin resistance, preventing the dangerous spikes and drops in glucose that diabetic patients fear. [12]

Decreases ADHD

Studies have linked decreases in hyperactive disorder and chronic anxiety to the use of borage oil, as it can have a soothing effect on the nervous system. This can improve focus and concentration, and lower levels of stress hormones in the body, which can lower your oxidative stress. [13]

Alleviates Anxiety & Stress

The hormonal effects of borage oil are known to eliminate anxiety and symptoms of depression and boost mood in a measurable way. Some people choose to use this oil in aromatherapy practices, and while this isn’t the most common use, it is definitely effective to keep your emotions and worries under control all day. [14]

Treats Eczema

Inflammatory conditions of the skin can be difficult to eliminate, particularly if they flare up without warning. Research has proven that regular application of borage oil to eczema, psoriasis and rosacea-affected areas can have a rapid and soothing effect. [15]

Hangover Remedy

One of the most important uses of borage oil is for people who may have had a bit too much to drink. Borage oil can improve metabolism, speed up the detoxification of the body, coat the stomach, and boost energy levels, helping overcome even the worst hangovers. [16]

Side Effects of Borage Oil

There are a number of side effects to borage oil that should be considered such as an increased risk of bleeding disorders, gastrointestinal distress, the potential risk for prostate cancer, seizures, and possible complications with pregnancy. Before using borage oil, either topically or internally, speak to your doctor about your particular health conditions.

  • Bleeding: The anticoagulant nature of this oil can exacerbate bleeding disorders, so if you suffer from such a condition, or are planning on having surgery in the near future, speak to your doctor before using this oil as a natural remedy. [17]
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: When consumed, even in small amounts, this oil can cause gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea, bloating, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is not common, but if it occurs, discontinue the use of this oil immediately. [18]
  • Prostate Health: Studies have shown that high levels of gamma-linolenic acid can occasionally cause increased prostate cell growth, which may increase the risk of tumor growth and prostate cancer. If you have an enlarged prostate, talk to your doctor before using borage oil. [19]
  • Seizures: There have been reports of concentrated GLA causing seizures, so if you suffer from a seizure-related condition, such as epilepsy, the use of this oil can be dangerous and should be avoided. [20]
  • Pregnancy: Although research in this area is somewhat limited, the general opinion says that the menstrual effects of this oil could stimulate premature labor, so this is a particularly risky oil for women in their first two trimesters, as it can increase your risk of miscarriage and pose a threat to the fetus. [21]
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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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