Borage oil benefits and side effects


Borage oil is obtained from the seeds of the borage plant scientifically known as Borago officinalis of the family Boraginaceae. It is also known as starflower oil. Borage oil benefits are treats rheumatoid, keeps skin healthy.


Borago officinalis is native to the Mediterranean region, North Africa, and the Middle East and distributed throughout the world.

Common name and general description

Starflower oil, Borage oil, and Gaozaban or Lisan al-Thawr oil are the common names of Borage oil.

Recently, interest in borage has been renewed because of its seed oil which is used for different medical and nutritional benefits. Borage oil is considered as one of the best sources of gamma-linolenic (all cis-6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid (GLA)) 26-38% oil that accounts for 17-28% of the oil and used as a dietary supplement for the prevention and/or treatment of various degenerative pathologies illnesses.

Constituents of Borage oil

It contains mainly triacylglycerol (95%), while 5% presents minor components composed of tocopherols, flavonoids, phospholipids, sterols, free fatty acids, and also mono-and diacylglycerols

Borage oil benefits

Borage oil is used for the prevention and/or treatment of various degenerative pathologies such as osteoporosis, blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, liver disease, cytotoxic and free radical scavenging activities (1). Some of the borage oil benefits are as follows.

1. Treat rheumatoid arthritis

Borage oil contains a large amount of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It treats the signs and symptoms of inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis activity, with negligible side effects (2). It also reduces pain intensity, improved disability thus this oil has potential benefits in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (3)

2. Healthy skin

Borage oil is a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids which leads to a decrease in skin roughness, transepidermal water loss (TEWL), itching, and scaling. 

Thus ingestion of borage oil for 12 weeks improves skin moisture and TEWL as well as firmness and improves cutaneous barrier function (4).  Borage oil also restores acidic skin pH and increased epidermal levels of lactate, most free fatty acids (FFAs), and free amino acids (FAAs) which is generated by lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), secreted phospholipase A2 (sPLA2), or filaggrin degradation with peptidyl arginine deiminase-3 (PADI3) (5).

3. Borage oil helps in Treating acne

The study suggested that borage oil (400 mg γ-linoleic acid) supplementation decreases both inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne lesions without any side effects. Therefore this oil may be used as adjuvant treatments for acne patients (mild to moderate acne vulgaris) (6).

4. Treat atopic dermatitis

Borage oil contains two to three times more GLA than any other oil which is beneficial to prevent the development of atopic dermatitis. However this oil majorly effective on less severe atopic dermatitis (7).

5. Treat Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is sudden and serious lung failure. In which fluid collects in the air sacs of the lungs, depriving organs of oxygen. However, high-fat, low-carbohydrate formula supplemented with EPA, GLA, and antioxidants of borage oil improved oxygenation. It reduces the time on mechanical ventilation decreasing mortality, length, and new organ dysfunction. Therefore, borage oil shows a wonderful effect in adults patients with ARDS (8).

6. Treat osteoporosis

Borage oil’s lifelong supplementation decreases inflammation and improves bone health because it contains high γ-linolenic acid which inhibits osteoclastic resorption, restores inflammation, and preventing age-related locomotor dysfunctions (9).  

7. Protect from a neurodegenerative disorder

Borage oil contains a good amount of gamma-linolenic acid which improves memory impairment. It helps in scavenging free radicals, inhibits reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation. Thus inhibits the effects of inflammatory proteins, and protects from neurotoxicity. 

Therefore, borage oil improves the learning impairment and oxidative damage may lead to an improvement of Alzheimer’s disease induced cognitive dysfunction (10).

8. Treat hypertension

Gamma-linolenic acid (18-25 %) present in borage oil increases membrane fluidity, which in turn influences membrane receptor function, enhances the levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the plasma, liver, and vascular tissue (11). Therefore, this oil reduces blood pressure attenuates the development of hypertension which is a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (12).

9. Treat the liver disease

Consumption of borage oil which is rich in γ-linolenic acid (GLA) may provide protection against γ-irradiation-induced toxicity by improving serum levels of liver enzymes, lipids profile, as well as serum and hepatic GSH and MDA levels (13)

This oil is useful for patients undergoing radiotherapy.  Furthermore, borage oil improved the liver morphology, decreased triglyceride contents and normalized serum marker enzyme activities thus protect against liver alcoholic steatosis with its antioxidant properties (14).  

10. Prevent Heart attack

Borage oil contains a high amount of anti-inflammatory substances which reduces heart failure. It creates a slow-down process of cardiac arrest and improves the patient’s condition after myocardial infarction. Thus, borage oil protects against heart attacks and strokes (15)

Moreover, borage oil activates macrophage autophagy, improves mitochondrial function, and attenuates the NLRP3 inflammasome activation. These results may inform future dietary recommendations to reduce cardiovascular disease and promote public health (16).

11. Treat Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea)

Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhea) is a common problem with symptoms like headache, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, urinary frequency, and vomiting. Borage oil (rich in GLA) converts linoleic acid, via gamma-linolenic acid, to dihomo-gamma-linolenic without any side effects. Thus borage oil may be very helpful for drug treatments of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms (17).

12. Prevent obesity

Borage oil contains omega-6 fatty acids which promote weight loss and reduce energy efficiency. therefore, it prevents white adipose tissue accumulation without affecting food intake.

Moreover, this oil also increases serum HDL-cholesterol levels, improves insulin resistance. Also promotes the down-regulation of Cebpa, an adipogenesis-related gene thus prevent weight gain (18).

13. Prevent cancer

Borage oil is non-toxic and its main component GLA show DNA safe (non-genotoxic). It is also antioxidants and antimutagenic properties that inhibit the growth of cancerous cells and promote apoptosis (19)

Side effect of Borage oil

As we know that borage oil may be helpful for the prevention of sensitization, eczema or atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, asthma, and other allergic disorders. But borage oil shows only short-term effects in pregnant and breastfeeding women (20)

Risk of epileptic

A research study suggested that borage oil contains an unidentified toxin that causes gelastic seizures progressing to status epilepticus after ingestion. Thus before intake of borage oil precautions should be needed if you are already a seizure patient because it can be a dangerous result in a patient’s illness (21).

Unsafe for pregnant women

Borage oil contains alkaloids namely pyrrolizidine alkaloid N-oxides. Which is unsafe for pregnant women and newborn children as it is carcinogenic in nature.

Edited By: Dr. Asha Jyoti Bharati


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