Borage (Borago officinalis L.)
Boraginaceae Borage family
Common Names: Bugloss Burrage Common bugloss Langue de Boeuf
Parts Usually Used: Herb, flowers, leaves
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Borage is a self-seeding annual plant; the hollow, bristly, branched and spreading stem grows up to 2 feet tall. The leaves are bristly, oval or oblong-lanceolate, the basal ones forming a rosette and the others growing alternately on the stem and branches. The striking, blue or purplish, star-shaped flowers grow in loose racemes from June to August. Bees are very fond of borage.
Where Found: Grows in the Mediterranean countries and is cultivated elsewhere. Native to Europe, Asia Minor, and North Africa and has spread to North America.
Medicinal Properties: Aperient, diaphoretic, demulcent, febrifuge, galactagogue, pectoral, tonic
Biochemical Information: Mucilage, tannin, traces of essential oil. Seeds: Gamma Lineolinic Acid (GLA)
Legends, Myths and Stories
Borage tea has a cucumber-like flavor. Made from fresh or dried leaves; served hot or cold. At one time was used to flavor wine.
In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, borage was known for its cooling quality and refreshing flavor and was said to make men merry. Also referred to as the "herb of courage".
The lovely blue star shaped flowers are used to enhance cold drinks, gelatin, fruit salads and candied to decorate cakes and confectioneries. Only the fresh flowers are used. Borage is an easily grown annual but likes plenty of space in a sunny location.
There is some controversy over the source of the borage name. Some say the Latin Borago is a corruption of corago, from cor, the heart, and ago, I bring. Others point out that a connection is apparent between the plant's name, its hairy appearance, and the low Latin term for flock of wool, burra, and its derivatives, borra (Italian) and bourra (French), both of which mean much the same thing. Still a third opinion suggested comes from an apparent connection between the Celtic term, barrach, which means "a man of courage". Ancient Celtic warriors drank wine with borage to give them courage before going into battle. Called Langue de Boeuf and also bugloss, one signifies Ox-tongue in Greek, and the other signifies the same in French.
Borage is believed to have originated in Aleppo, a city in northwestern Syria.
In medieval times, borage tea was given to competitors in tournaments as a moral booster.
Said to reduce fever, cough, sore throat, colds, decongestant for the lungs, expel poisons of all kinds due to snake bites, insect stings, itch, ringworms, tetters, scabs, sores, ulcers, a gargle for sores in the mouth and throat, loosens phlegm, and for restoring vitality after a convalescence. It is credited with antidotal effect against poisons. Useful in nervous conditions. Recommended for pleurisy and peritonitis, heart, adrenal glands, and entire digestive system, jaundice. Leaves and seeds stimulate the flow of milk (excessive milk flow is checked by taking periwinkle); the fresh herb used as an eye wash, and as a poultice for inflammations. The juice from a crushed plant applied direct to the skin will destroy ringworm. Contact with the fresh leaves may cause dermatitis in sensitive persons. Said to have been prescribed 400 years ago for melancholy. Seeds helpful for PMS.
Externally, a poultice of leaves applied to inflamed swellings has been helpful.
Formulas or Dosages: Prolonged use of borage is not advisable.
Infusion: use 1 tsp. dried flowers or 2-3 tsp. dried leaves with 1/2 cup water; steep for 5 minutes and strain. Take for 1 week at a time.
Nutrient Content: Potassium
Warning: Contact with the fresh leaves may cause dermatitis in sensitive persons.
The Herb Book, by John Lust, pgs., 132, 465,
477, 503, 510, 511, 522, 566, 574, 583.
The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, pgs., 32, 37, 55, 140.
Herb Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, pgs., 46, 47-48, 55, 58.
The Magic of Herbs, by David Conway, pg., 89.
Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., pgs., 124, 211.
The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, pgs., 41, 164-165, 179.
Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss, pgs., 97-98.
Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, pgs., 55, 130-131.
Complete Herbal & English Physician, by Nicholas Culpeper, pg., 28.
Earl Mindell's Herb Bible, by Earl Mindell, pg., 176.
The Yoga of Herbs, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, pg., 195.
Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, pg., 161.
The Rodale Herb Book, edited by William H. Hylton, pgs., 83, 106, 268, 279, 371-375.
Country Home Book of Herbs, executive editor Nancy N. Green, pgs., 13, 68.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Disclaimer: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.