1. Health
Send to a Friend via Email

Boron

What You Need to Know About Boron

By

Updated July 10, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Boron is a mineral found in food and in the environment. Also available in dietary supplement form, boron is said to offer a number of health benefits.

Research shows that including boron-rich foods in your diet is important for wellness, since low boron intake may negatively impact brain function, bone health, and the immune system. Food sources of boron include raisins, prunes, peanuts, honey, bananas, red apples, and broccoli.

Benefits of Boron

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there is not yet enough scientific evidence to support most of the claims for the health benefits of taking boron supplements.

Benefits of Boric Acid (vs. Boron)

Boric acid is boron in acid form. Sometimes sold in suppository form, boric acid is said to treat certain health conditions (such as yeast infections). When taken orally, boric acid is poisonous.

However, there's some evidence that boric acid may help treat vaginal yeast infections. In a 2003 research review from Obstetrical & Gynecological Survey, for instance, investigators analyzed a number of studies on the use of various types of complementary and alternative medicine in treatment of yeast infections. They found that boric acid appears to be beneficial for women with recurrent yeast infections that are resistant to conventional therapies, but caution that boric acid may cause vaginal burning in some instances.

In a more recent research review (published in the Journal of Women's Health in 2011), scientists concluded that "boric acid is a safe, alternative, economic option" for women with recurrent yeast infections.

It should be noted that, when used to treat vaginal infections, boric acid is usually used in the form of boric acid powder and taken vaginally.

Uses for Boron Supplements

Boron supplements are said to help treat and/or prevent the following health problems:

  • diabetes
  • high cholesterol
  • menopausal symptoms
  • osteoarthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • psoriasis
  • yeast infections

In addition, boron supplements are purported to improve cognitive function, boost sports performance, and reduce inflammation.

Are Boron Supplements Safe?

Although boron is likely safe for most people, the NIH warns that boron supplements (or high dietary intake of boron) may be harmful to people with hormone-sensitive conditions, including breast cancer, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. It's thought that boron may increase estrogen levels in certain individuals.

In addition, boron supplements should be avoided by people with kidney disease or problems with kidney function.

It should also be noted that consuming boron in excess can cause poisoning, signs of which include tremors, convulsions, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Where to Find Them

Available for purchase online, boron supplements are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.

Should You Use Boron for Health Purposes?

Although there's some evidence that vaginal use of boric acid may be useful in the treatment of vaginal yeast infections, there's not enough scientific evidence to support the use of boron supplements for treatment or prevention of any health condition.

If you're considering the use of boron supplements in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician. It's important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with boron supplements and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Sources:

Devirian TA, Volpe SL. "The physiological effects of dietary boron." Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2003;43(2):219-31.

Iavazzo C, Gkegkes ID, Zarkada IM, Falagas ME. "Boric acid for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: the clinical evidence." J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Aug;20(8):1245-55.

National Institutes of Health. "Boron: MedlinePlus Supplements." January 2012.

Nielsen FH. "Is boron nutritionally relevant?" Nutr Rev. 2008 Apr;66(4):183-91.

Penland JG. "The importance of boron nutrition for brain and psychological function." Biol Trace Elem Res. 1998 Winter;66(1-3):299-317.

Van Kessel K, Assefi N, Marrazzo J, Eckert L. "Common complementary and alternative therapies for yeast vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review." Obstet Gynecol Surv. 2003 May;58(5):351-8.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.