Borago officinalis L., Boraginaceae
INCI: Borago officinalis seed oil
Purpose: skin medicine, for dry skin, for various inflammatory skin diseases
Price: medium expensive oil
Healing secret: γ-linolenic acid (GLA)
My remark: really a golden oil, although it can also be green. Inevitable as an aid in various inflammatory skin diseases (except acne).
Oral use: absolutely, one of the most healing vegetable oils, from rheumatoid arthritis, menopausal symptoms, painful periods to inflammatory skin diseases
Borage oil, like evening primrose oil, is one of the typical oils that owe their healing properties to the fatty acid composition, γ-linolenic acid (GLA). I’ve already explained why this is so in the section on the healing properties of fatty acids, so I wouldn’t repeat it. In short, this fatty acid restores the balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory lipid mediators (messengers) of inflammation. Borage contains on average twice the concentration of this medicinal fatty acid than evening primrose oil. And of course, the price is higher, but fortunately not twice. It used to cost a pretty penny, and today its price has reached an acceptable level for everyone’s pocket. Borage is a beautiful plant that is still planted in gardens, especially in Dalmatia.
Like evening primrose oil, borage oil is very versatile. It is used internally or orally as an adjuvant therapy for various skin problems, from atopic dermatitis, lichen, acne, to psoriasis of all types. On top of all that, it helps with painful periods, polycystic ovaries, menopausal problems and rheumatoid arthritis. This was unknown 25 years ago, but over time, both evening primrose and borage have become widely known to the public.
Externally, it is used as an extremely nourishing face oil, most often in a mixture with other oils (kukui, almond, apricot, rosehip seed oil…), and it’s excellent in creams for very dry skin, and for various inflammatory skin diseases. This primarily concerns inflammation that is not of an infectious nature, but for diseases caused by errors of the immune system. The most common are atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Because it is a relatively “heavy” oil that is poorly absorbed, it is not used for acne topically, but only orally. It is extremely nutritious, quite greasy and absorbs slowly.
One of the disadvantages of borage oil is its characteristic scent that develops especially on the skin- it reminds me of metal. But everyone forgives this without any problems. It spoils relatively easily due to the high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids and the low content of natural tocopherols and tocotrienols, so it is useful to preserve it with rosemary CO2 or natural vitamin E. This is especially true for emulsion systems. When making emulsion systems that involves heating, add antioxidants to it before the heating process. Of the sterols, cycloartenol, campesterol, gramisterol, obtusifoliol, 9,19-propanesterol dominate. It contains 4-desmethylsterols such as cycloartenol about 3.5g/kg.
People often ask me: if borage oil contains twice as much GLA, will we completely eliminate evening primrose oil? Not. Not at all. These differences are of great importance in oral therapy, and in cosmetics the amount of GLA in evening primrose is sufficient for effect. This is seen both in real life and in practice. The choice is up to you.
Borage oil can look very different, depending on the year and the manufacturer. Its colour varies from yellow to green. Fortunately, what we focus on is GLA and regarding that borage oil is usually of a very reproducible composition.
Borage oil is not a magic wand for inflammatory skin diseases, but it can be one of the useful strategies. Borage is not just the oil of “serious conditions”. Don’t forget to try it in quite ordinary cosmetics.
|Organoleptic characteristics||Clear pale yellow to yellow liquid, sometimes green-yellow in color. Characteristic mild odor.|
|olour||Pale yellow to yellow or green.|
|Relative density||0.910 - 0.925|
|Acid number mg KOH/g||maximum 4.0|
|Peroxide number mEq O2/Kg||maximum 8.0|
|Content of unsaponifiable matter (%)||maximum 1.5|
|Water content (%)||maximum 0.1|
|Fatty acid content (%)|
|C16:0 palmitic acid||8.0 - 12.0|
|C18:0 stearic acid||2.0 – 5.0|
|C18:1 oleic acid||14.0 – 20.0|
|C18:2 linoleic acid||35.0 – 42.0|
|C18:3 γ-linolenic acid||mimimum 20.0|
|C20:1 eicosenic acid||3.0 – 5.0|
|C22:1 erucic acid||1.0 – 3.0|
|C24:1 tetracosenoic acid||1.0 – 2.0.|
|Other fatty acids||1.0 – 3.0|
*according to the last Ph. Eur.
- Mechanisms by which botanical lipids affect inflammatory disorders. Chilton FH, Rudel LL, Parks JS, Arm JP, Seeds MC. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;87(2):498S-503S
- Potential of evening primrose, borage, black currant, and fungal oils in human health. Barre DE. Ann Nutr Metab. 2001;45(2):47-57.
- Effect of Dietary Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acid and gamma-linolenic Acid on Acne Vulgaris: A Randomised, Double-blind, Controlled Trial. Jung JY, Kwon HH, Hong JS, Yoon JY, Park MS, Jang MY, Suh DH. Acta Derm Venereol. 2014 Feb 18.
- Unsaponifiable Matter in Plant Seed Oils. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013Edible Oil Processing, 2nd Edition Wolf Hamm (Editor), Richard J. Hamilton (Editor), Gijs Calliauw (Editor) July 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
- Vegetable Oils in Food Technology: Composition, Properties and Uses, Second Edition Frank D. Gunstone Blackwell Publishing 2011
- Bailey’s Industrial Oil and Fat Products (6 Volume Set) By Fereidoon Shahidi: Wiley-Interscience; 6 edition 2005
- Characterization of sterols in refined borage oil by GC-MS Inger, Wretensjö; Bo, Karlberg Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society , Volume 79 (11) – Nov 1, 2002
- Quality of borage seed oil extracted by liquid and supercritical carbon dioxide Molero Gómez, A; Martı́nez de la Ossa, E Chemical Engineering Journal , Volume 88 (1) – Sep 28, 2002