Borago Officinalis or Borage but also known as a Starflower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalised in many other locales.
The oil from the flowers seeds (Borage oil) is a natural substance that provides high levels of the fatty acid called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a strong anti-inflammatory found in only a few plant oils.
Borage oil is becoming increasingly popular as a natural anti-inflammatory supplement because it has one of the highest amounts of GLA of all seed oils. GLA is one type of omega-6 “essential” fatty acid that the body cannot make on its own, so we must get it from other sources.
Other plants, famously including black currant or evening primrose oil, also offer GLA and have similar benefits, the roughly 23 percent GLA content in borage oil makes it likely the most effective option. As a simple comparison, evening primrose oil has about 9 percent. This means that regular use of borage oil supplies higher dose of linolenic acid, with less of an investment and lower risk for side effects.
One of the most well-researched uses for borage oil is treating inflammatory skin disorders like eczema. GLA has been shown to correct deficiencies in skin lipids (oils) that are caused by low levels of delta-6-desaturase activity. When the skin can’t produce enough protective oils, the result is poor regulation of the immune system, increased inflammation and specific immune responses that result in skin flare-ups, including those typical of eczema
Because human skin can’t synthesise GLA from the precursors linoleic acid or arachidonic acid on its own, supplementing with GLA-rich borage helps act like a natural eczema remedy for people who are already too low in essential fatty acids critical to skin health.
While study results have been mixed and not every study has shown that borage oil can improve eczema in the majority of patients, certain people seem to respond more positively to treatment than others and experience significant improvements when using borage oil instead of steroid creams. Some studies have found that people taking up to 720 milligrams daily of GLA for two months experienced significant improvements in health of the cutaneous skin barrier.