Plant Profile: Borage


Borage
(Borago officinalis)



Family: BORAGINACEAE 

Energetics: Moistening. Cooling. 

Taste: Bitter, slightly sweet & acrid. 

Tissue States: Atrophy. Stagnation. 

Parts Used: Leaves & Flowers. 

Systems affected: Brain. Heart. Respiratory. 

Key Components: Saponins. Mucilage. Unsaturated pyrrolizadine alkaloids. Gamma-linolenic acid. Choline. Tannins. Essential Oils. Calcium. Silicon. Potassium. 

Preparations & dosage: Infusion 1-2 tsp steeped in 1 cup 8-10 minutes. Tincture. 1 dropper full 2x per day for short term use only OR Matthew Wood Recommends 1-3 drops 1-3 x per day. Syrup 1-3 tsp per day for acute illness. 

Actions:
Foundational: Bitter.
Primary: Diaphoretic. Expectorant. Nervine. Galactogogue. 
Secondary: Short term nutritive tonic. Anti-Inflammatory. 

Uses: An adrenal Cortex restorative agent (Will revive & renew the adrenal glands after being treated with cortisone or steroids. The adrenal glands are under an increasing amount of stress and Borage can be used as a tonic over time. Taken in small doses, borage can restore deficiencies in the endocrine system & relax the nerves. Silicon content nourishes the Central Nervous System which  enhances communication between the Central Nervous System, the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus gland. As a result, the chronically deficient endocrine system is more nourished, specifically the thyroid & adrenals. Has a reputation since ancient times for dispelling melancholy and fostering courage. Has a big effect on those who are stressed and exhausted and has been constantly on the go for a long time either physically and/or emotionally, and are completely exhausted and run down that they just don't have the courage to face their responsibilities and spirits are low, causing adrenal stress and fatigue. They often precent as melancholic and depressed. Good fit for someone who suffers from nervous exhaustion caused by or accompanied by menopause. Traditionally used as a strengthening for those convalescing. Good for those with high blood pressure and those who worry excessively.  An anti-inflammatory herb used in such conditions as pleurisy. The leaves & seeds are known to stimulate milk production/flow in nursing mothers. Leave & flowers are a popular salad herb, and flowers can be candied to use a cake decorations. Mucilage content makes it a great addition to cough syrups for coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, colds & asthma. Soothes and, in small doses, fortifies the whole respiratory system. Heart & lung congestion. Fevers. Demulcent properties make it effective against both internal and external ulcers. Can be used as an eyewash for sore and inflamed eyes. Heart palpitations (caused by hyperthyroid as opposed to a heart ailment). Like with evening primrose, the seeds have been discovered to be a rich source of gamma linolenic acid. 

Indications: 

Flower Essence: Helps those with heavy-heartedness or grief, who are depressed and lack confidence in facing difficult circumstances. 

Identification: Grows 12-24” tall. Round hollow stems. Leaves are covered in bristles and the leaves alternate on branched stems. Leaves are broad and oval with pointed tips and are about 3-5” long. Bright blue, star shaped flowers hang down in clusters and there are black anthers that protrude from the center. 








 Growing: Sow seeds or plant root divisions in early spring. A hardy perennial. Grows rapidly (It REALLY does). A self seeding plant. Commonly found wild in woodlands and pastures. Zones 2-8. Can be planted from seed when the danger of frost has passed. Will self-sow readily. A single plant will easily spread over a 4 square foot area. New plants can be thinned or transplanted (young plants are best for transplants). Prefers a loose, all pirated soil that is moist & fairly rich. Composted manure should be added to the soil. 

Collection: Can gather flowers & leaves to use fresh throughout the growing season. To harvest leaves for medicinal use, gather at the end of the season when the plant is in flower & dry. Remove each leaf by itself and compost any that are marked or damaged in any way. DO NOT COLLECT when the plant is wet from rain or dew. Gather flowers at blooming and they can be dried as well. 

Contraindications: Handling fresh leaves may cause contact dermatitis. May cause constipation. Hepatotoxicity has been reported after chronic administration. Best used for only short periods of time. Many say best used for only 3-7 days at a time. Not long term. because of the high levels of pyrrolizadine alkaloids. AVOID IN PREGNANCY as it may induce contractions. 

Sources: 
The Complete Herbs Sourcebook: David Hoffman. Pg 227;  
The Herbal Apothecary: JJ Pursell. Pg 77-78; 
The Way of Herbs: Michael Tierra. Pg 102-103; 
An Herbalists Guide to Formulary: Holly Bellebuono. Pg 76, 92, 94, 232, 320 & 321; 
The Earthwise Herbal Volume 1: Matthew Wood. Pg145-149; 

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