Borage is a natural substance extracted from the seed of Borago officinalis, a plant found throughout the United States and Europe. Also referred to as "borage" or "borage seed oil," borage oil is rich in gamma-linoleic acid (a type of essential fatty acid that may help reduce inflammation).
Uses for Borage Oil
In herbal medicine, borage oil is typically used to treat the following health problems:
Healthy Fats in Borage Oil
When consumed, much of the gamma-linoleic acid in borage oil is converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid. Like the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil and flaxseed, gamma-linoleic acid and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid are known to fight inflammation. However, both substances are classified as omega-6 fatty acids.
Benefits of Borage Oil
To date, few studies have explored the health benefits of borage oil. Here's a look at what science is out there related to borage oil's effectiveness in treatment of two health conditions:
1) Rheumatoid Arthritis
Borage oil shows promise in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder marked by inflammation in the lining of the joints, according to a research review published in 2000. Although most of the data on borage oil's effectiveness come from test-tube and animal research, several small studies indicate that borage oil may ease tenderness and swelling in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
In a 2003 study of 140 adults and children with eczema, researchers found no significant difference between those who took borage oil supplements for 12 weeks and those who took a placebo capsule for the same amount of time. An earlier study of 160 patients found that 24 weeks of treatment with borage oil supplements failed to have a significant effect on eczema.
Is Borage Oil Safe?
Although borage oil is generally considered safe, it may cause constipation in some individuals. Due to the lack of science behind borage oil's effectiveness, it's important to take caution when using borage oil supplements. If you're considering the use of borage oil in treatment of any health condition, make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen.
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