Borage Oil Health Benefits and Side Effects - supplements, inflammation
and cancer.   - ZHION.COM      

Borage (Borago officinalis)
Borage is a plant with blue, star-shaped flowers originated from Europe and North Africa and now you can find
this plant in America. [1]

Borage Seed Oil
Borage seed oil is an oil derived from the borage seed. Borage seed oil contains high percentages of gamma
linolenic acid (GLA),  GLA is converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, a precursor to different prostaglandins
and leukotrienes. GLA inhibits leukotriene synthesis to provide therapy in rheumatologic illness. Thus, borage
seed oil may therefore have anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic effects and benefit people at risk of different
inflammatory disorders such as arthritis, atopic eczema, and respiratory inflammation. Borage seed oil may
further benefit people at risk of premenstrual syndrome, diabetes, scleroderma, SjogrenA's syndrome, tardive
dyskinesia, eczema, aging etc. [2, 9-14] In the next section, we are going to discuss the scientific evidence for
supporting the health benefit claims of this plant oil and related products.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Evidence from published journal research suggests that gamma linolenic acid, the key component of borage
seed oil, increases prostaglandin E levels that increase cAMP levels that in turn suppress tumor necrosis factor-
alpha synthesis. [37] Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF alpha), a cytokine, can cause cytolysis of certain tumor cell
lines. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha has been shown to be a central mediator of inflammatory and joint
destructive processes in rheumatoid arthritis. Several clinical studies have shown the benefit of borage seed oil
on people suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, with negligible side effects. The dose is about 1.1-2.8 g / day for
at least 3 months. [3-5, 16, 17, 35 and 37]

Stress and Hypertension
In a study, researchers fed 30 subjects with supplements of borage oil, fish oil, or olive oil for 28 days.  The
researchers found that borage oil alone (1) attenuated the blood pressure and heart rate responses to stress,
(2) increased skin temperature, and (3) improved task performance.  [22] Researchers from the same group
supplied normotensive humans with different dietary oils at a dose of 4.5 ml/day for 4 wk. They found that
borage oil augmented the plasma norepinephrine and vasoconstrictor responses to -40 mmHg lower body
negative pressure, as well as the reflex vasodilation on its cessation significantly. The researchers suggest that
borage oil augments the arterial baroreflex control of vascular resistance. [24] Some other studies also show
similar effect of borage oil or borage seed oil. [40-43] Thus, borage seed oil may benefit people at risk of high
blood pressure or under stress.

Inflammatory Conditions
Borage seed oil containing a high level of GLA may benefit people at risk of different kinds of inflammatory
conditions. [21, 23,25-31] For instance, borage oil was demonstrated to modulate pulmonary inflammation,
improving lung compliance and oxygenation, and reducing time on mechanical ventilation. [33]

Researchers supplemented guinea pigs with either safflower oil (less than 0.5% GLA) or borage oil, (25% GLA)
for 8 weeks. They then analyzed the skin tissues from both groups. They found significant increases in the
amounts of the 15-hydroxy fatty acid (15-OH-20:3n-6) and prostaglandin PGE1, both metabolites of DGLA in
the borage oil fed group. Since these metabolites have anti-inflammatory benefits, intake of borage oil is likely
to benefit people at risk of certain cutaneous inflammatory skin disorders. [21] However, the result is not
reproducible in anther study. [7]

A 12-month study of 24 asthma patients shows that 2.0 g daily GLA (borage oil) modulated endogenous
inflammatory mediators without side effects. [35] GLA (borage oil) was proved to be superior to
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (sardine oil) in modulating the neovascular response. GLA significantly reduced
the polymorphonuclear leukocyte and macrophage inflammatory infiltrate and EPA reduced the macrophage
component. [23]

In a vitro study, GLA has been shown to suppress tumor growth. Researchers induced prostate
adenocarcinomas in two groups of L-W rats. They then supplemented one group with GLA. At the end of
experiment, they concluded GLA reduced prostate cancer development in the rats. [32] Thus, intake of borage
seed oil may benefit people at risk of certain types of cancers. [Read:
Cancer Risk Factors]

Studies of rats demonstrated that both n-6 fatty acid and n-3 fatty acids such as gamma-linolenic acid and
alpha-linolenic acid lowered serum total cholesterol and VLDL+IDL+LDL-cholesterol concentrations of rats in
the presence of excess cholesterol in the diet compared with dietary saturated fatty acid. [38,39] Thus, intake of
borage oil may benefit people at risk of high cholesterol. [Popular health supplement for high cholesterol:
yeast rice]

Liver Steatosis
Fatty liver is a reversible condition where large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in liver cells via the
process of steatosis (i.e. abnormal retention of lipids within a cell). Researchers induced liver steatosis in an
animal model, and then they treated the animals with borage oil. They found there was an improvement in the
liver morphology, triglyceride content and serum marker enzyme activities. [B2] Thus, intake of borage oil
theoretically may benefit people at risk of high triglyceride and fatty liver.
[My question is: why not just simply
high-glycemic index foods and/or high triglyceride foods?]

Borage oil may benefit people suffered from eczema or other skin inflammatory conditions. Some studies have
shown the benefits of borage oil on atopic dermatitis or eczema with reduction in itching, dryness and skin
inflammation, while not all studies conclude the same. [6,8,18,19,34, B1] Users' conditions, doses, dosage
preparations are important.
Side Effects of Borage Oil Supplements
Researchers claim dietary gammalinolenic acid (GLA) can attenuate the clinical course of rheumatoid arthritis,
with negligible side effects. Takwale A at George Eliot Hospital reported borage oil supplement was well-
tolerated in adults and children suffered from atopic eczema. [36] Similarly, researchers from University of
California at Davis noticed no side effects when they applied borage oil to patients suffered from asthma (16-75
year old) for 12 months. [35]

However, minor side effects from borage oil use can include bloating, nausea, indigestion, and headache. [20]
In addition, dietary gamma-linolenic acid or borage oil is found to alter platelet membrane functioning. [43]
Consequently, if you have blood-clotting, bleeding or low blood pressure issues or if you are pregnant, you
should avoid borage oil supplements.

Evening primrose oil and borage should not be used with anticonvulsants because they may lower the seizure
threshold. [A1], Al-Khamees WA and co workers at Georgia Poison Center reported a case of status epilepticus
in a patient who consumed borage oil for one week. [A2] According to Wikipedia, status epilepticus (SE) is a life-
threatening condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure. Anyway, more studies are needed to
confirm how seizure is correlated with intake of borage oil.
No. Borage is not found in GRAS list.


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