Scientific: Borago officinalis [WikiPedia]
Composition: Borage contains potassium and calcium, combined with mineral acids, and the highest known plant source of gamma-linolenic acid (an Omega 6 fatty acid, also known as GLA). The fresh juice affords 30 per cent, the dried herb 3 per cent of nitrate of potash. The stems and leaves supply much saline mucilage, which when boiled and cooked likewise deposits nitre and common salt. It is to these saline qualities that the wholesome invigorating properties of Borage are supposed to be due.
Appearance: Borage is a native plant of Southern Europe, having become naturalized all over Europe and the United States. It is a prolific grower, having a tendency to sprout up in abandoned lawns and junkyards. At one time borage was an essential herb for beekeepers, grown to help bees produce more honey. Traditionally, it was also grown as an ornamental, or boiled as a pot herb.
Parts Used: Seed, or flower and herb.
Common Uses: It’s not only a favorite plant of the honey bees, but also bumble bees and small, native bees. It has served many purposes from the time of ancient Rome to the present. Pliny the Elder believed it to be an anti-depressant, and it has long been thought to give courage and comfort to the heart. One old wives’ tale states that if a woman slipped a bit of borage into a promising man’s drink, it would give him the courage to propose. At one time it was grown by beekeepers to boost honey production. It can be, and has been grown as an ornamental plant, but is also edible and medicinal. Borage has been traditionally used in medical applications for centuries. It stimulates milk production, works as an astringent and serves as an adrenal stimulant. Borage is also used to calm the nerves and can be used as a diuretic. The most common application for borage is the borage seed oil, as mentioned. This is extracted from the seeds. The leaves can also be dried for infusions or even in bulk form for powder which can be added to your dog’s food. Borage is generally quite safe for consumption, although there is a high amount of PAs included that may lead to liver damage. The PAs, a potentially toxic compound, are presented in a very low form and are generally believed to be harmless, but you should be aware of them nevertheless. Animals would need to ingest a large quantity in order to see any negative effects.
- Borage has been used to improve adrenal function, especially for dogs who’ve undergone considerable steroid therapy. It isn’t as powerful a treatment as licorice, which is a stronger treatment of course, but it can help stimulate slightly depressed adrenal functions.
- Borage has a reputation for increasing milk production in nursing mothers of multiple species, including humans and dogs, and has been used in a therapeutic sense for hundreds of years. The suggestion here is that using borage during pregnancy stimulates the adrenal glands and, as such, the milk comes as a result of increased hormone production.
- Borage can also be applied topically as a poultice or compress for minor skin irritations. It isn’t as effective as comfrey, another popular topical treatment, but it does have a mild effect that can be quite helpful for some dogs. When making the poultice, scrape off the “prickly hairs” first. You can also steam the whole leaves and use them as a warm cover for sore muscles and minor skin irritations.
Borage seed oil is used for skin disorders including eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and neurodermatitis. It is also used for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), stress, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), diabetes, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), alcoholism, pain and swelling (inflammation), and for preventing heart disease and stroke. Other uses include a hormone problem called adrenal insufficiency, for “blood purification,” to increase urine flow, to prevent inflammation of the lungs, as a sedative, and to promote sweating.
Topic Specific Research:
- To be researched
PLEASE NOTE that herbal and other natural products can harm your animals – not all plants are safe and gentle! Do not attempt using any of the ingredients listed, or any other plant matter, without the guidance of a qualified herbalist.