Borage seed oil

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Borage seed oil is derived from the seeds of the Borago officinalis (borage).[1]

Borage seed oil has one of the highest amounts of γ-linolenic acid (GLA) of seed oils — higher than blackcurrant seed oil or evening primrose oil, to which it is considered similar. GLA comprises around 24% of the oil typically. GLA is converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, a precursor to a variety of the 1-series prostaglandins and the 3-series leukotrienes. It inhibits leukotriene synthesis to provide therapy in rheumatologic illness.[1] Borage seed oil may therefore have anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects and it has been studied for its potential to treat inflammatory disorders, arthritis, atopic eczema, and respiratory inflammation.[1] However, several clinical studies have shown it to be ineffective at treating atopic eczema.[2][3]

Borage oil may contain the pyrrolizidine alkaloid amabiline,[4][5][6] which is hepatotoxic leading to a risk of liver damage.[1] Patients should use borage oil certified free of unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids.[1] Borage oil may be unsafe during pregnancy because preliminary studies suggest borage oil has a teratogenic effect and that its prostaglandin E agonist action may cause premature labor.[1][7] Seizures have been reported as a complication of ingestion of borage oil in doses of 1,500 to 3,000 mg daily,[8] although a mixed review of borage oil's effect on seizure thresholds indicates that borage oil quality varies.[9] A specific extraction process may offer purified products with 50%+ GLA content.

Borage seed oil has been used to treat skin disorders such as eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and neurodermatitis. It has also been used for rheumatoid arthritis, stress, premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alcoholism, pain and swelling (inflammation), and for preventing heart disease and stroke.[10] In research trials, however, its efficacy to treat eczema was not better than placebo.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Borage at Sloan-Kettering website
  2. ^ Henz, BM; Jablonska, S; Van De Kerkhof, PC; Stingl, G; Blaszczyk, M; Vandervalk, PG; Veenhuizen, R; Muggli, R; Raederstorff, D (1999). "Double-blind, multicentre analysis of the efficacy of borage oil in patients with atopic eczema". The British journal of dermatology 140 (4): 685–8. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2133.1999.02771.x. PMID 10233322. 
  3. ^ Takwale, A; Tan, E; Agarwal, S; Barclay, G; Ahmed, I; Hotchkiss, K; Thompson, JR; Chapman, T; Berth-Jones, J (2003). "Efficacy and tolerability of borage oil in adults and children with atopic eczema: Randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, parallel group trial". BMJ (Clinical research ed.) 327 (7428): 1385. doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7428.1385. PMC 292992. PMID 14670885. 
  4. ^ Dodson, Craig D.; Stermitz, Frank R. (1986). "Pyrrolizidine alkaloids from borage (Borago officinalis) seeds and flowers". Journal of Natural Products 49 (4): 727–728. doi:10.1021/np50046a045. 
  5. ^ Parvais, O.; Vander Stricht, B.; Vanhaelen-Fastre, R.; Vanhaelen, M. (1994). "TLC detection of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in oil extracted from the seeds of Borago officinalis". Journal of Planar Chromatography--Modern TLC 7 (1): 80–82. 
  6. ^ Wretensjoe, Inger; Karlberg, Bo. (2003). "Pyrrolizidine alkaloid content in crude and processed borage oil from different processing stages". Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 80 (10): 963–970. doi:10.1007/s11746-003-0804-z. 
  7. ^ Kast, RE (2001). "Borage oil reduction of rheumatoid arthritis activity may be mediated by increased cAMP that suppresses tumor necrosis factor-alpha". International immunopharmacology 1 (12): 2197–9. doi:10.1016/s1567-5769(01)00146-1. PMID 11710548. 
  8. ^ Al-Khamees, W. A. A.; Schwartz, M. D.; Alrashdi, S.; Algren, A. D.; Morgan, B. W. (2011). "Status Epilepticus Associated with Borage Oil Ingestion". Journal of Medical Toxicology 7 (2): 154–157. doi:10.1007/s13181-011-0135-9. PMC 3724443. PMID 21387119.  edit
  9. ^ Spinella, M. (2001). "Herbal Medicines and Epilepsy: The Potential for Benefit and Adverse Effects". Epilepsy & Behavior 2 (6): 524–532. doi:10.1006/ebeh.2001.0281. PMID 12609386.  edit
  10. ^ "Borage". WebMD. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Bamford, JT; Ray, S; Musekiwa, A; van Gool, C; Humphreys, R; Ernst, E (Apr 30, 2013). "Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema.". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews 4: CD004416. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004416.pub2. PMID 23633319.