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Borage (Borago officinalis) is an herb native to Syria that has spread throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean. Borage flowers and leaves may be eaten and borage seeds are often pressed to produce oil very high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).
Borage is popularly used for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms. Borage is also popular among elderly women. Borage is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been studied for the treatment of gum disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma.
There is currently controversy about the safety of borage. Consumers should use caution when taking borage as there have been cases of poisoning after confusion with foxglove.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome:
Acute respiratory distress syndrome occurs when the lung malfunctions due to injury to the small air sacs and the capillaries of the lungs. Borage may improve heart and lung function and reduce lung inflammation in acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Periodontitis / gingivitis:
Preliminary evidence suggests that borage has anti-inflammatory effects that may make it beneficial in treating periodontitis (gum disease). Additional research is needed to determine the best dosing and administration of borage oil.
Preliminary evidence suggests that gamma linolenic acid (GLA) has known anti-inflammatory effects that may make it beneficial in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Additional research is needed to determine the optimal dose and administration.
Borage oil may help treat or prevent alcohol-induced hangovers, although additional study is needed in this area.
Preliminary evidence suggests that gamma linolenic acid (GLA) may have some immunosuppressant activity that may be helpful in reducing asthma symptoms.
Atopic dermatitis is a skin disorder that is characterized by itching, scaling, thickening of the skin and is usually located on the face, elbows, knees, and arms. The evidence for borage oil in the treatment of atopic dermatitis is mixed. Additional study is needed in this area.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder affecting the mucus lining of the lungs leading to breathing problems and other difficulties. Preliminary evidence indicated that borage oil may have some benefits in cystic fibrosis patients.
Hyperlipidemia means that there are excess levels of fats in the blood. These fats can be triglycerides or cholesterol. Hyperlipidemia is often associated with increased risk of heart disease and strokes. Gamma linolenic acid may decrease plasma triglyceride levels and increase HDL-cholesterol concentration. However, more research is needed to define borage's effects on lipid levels in the blood.
Infant development / neonatal care (in preterm infants):
Preterm infants may need essential fatty acid supplementation. Gamma linolenic acid supplementation may increase cognitive development, weight gain, and length gain, particularly in boys. Another study is needed to confirm these results.
Malnutrition (inflammation complex syndrome):
Currently, there is insufficient available evidence evaluating the effectiveness of borage in the treatment of malnutrition.
Seborrheic dermatitis (infantile):
Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of inflammatory skin rash. Currently, there is insufficient evidence to support borage in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis.
Borage oil may decrease heart changes to acute stress. More high quality studies are needed in this area.
Supplementation in preterm and very low birthweight infants (fatty acids):
A borage oil-containing formula does not appear to affect preterm and very low birth weight infants, although more study is needed in this area.
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