Borage is not one of the most commonly used carrier oils in aromatherapy but this oil has a number of therapeutic benefits. In addition, it is produced from, what I consider, to be one of the most beautiful plants in the aromatic garden (albeit from the seeds and not the memorizing blue flowers). In the first of a new trilogy, I am looking at borage as a carrier oil and its potential for use in therapeutic aromatherapy blends.
Profile of the Plant Borage
Borage (Borago officinalis) is a member of the Boraginaceae botanical family. It is a relatively “ancient” plant as it was described by Pliny as euphrosium – due to its tendency to cause happiness in people, an aspect I can clearly relate to. Bees seem to love it, too!
Borage produces the most beautiful blue star-shaped flowers, which start out as pink and mature into the blue color. The flowers are small but, on a flowering borage plant, resemble clusters of stars. The plant itself is quite stocky in comparison to the delicate flowers, with a strong, hairy stem, and large hairy leaves. It is annual or biennual plant, although it is a good self-seeder. Borage can grow to a height of two feet.
Chemical Components of Borage Oil
Borage oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of the plant. The oil contains approximately:
Linoleic acid (over 30%)
Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) (over 20%)
Oleic acid (over 10%)
Palmitic acid (over 10%)
Stearic acid (over 3 %)
And other trace components.1
Traditional Uses and Modern Day Use of Borage
The flowers of borage have traditionally been used to make teas, and as a garnish in salads. You can also freeze the flowers in ice cubes to make a fun addition to summer drinks!*
As described by Pliny, borage promotes happiness and therefore it has traditionally been used in cases of melancholy and grief. In addition, Grieve describes the use of borage as a poultice for inflammation and swelling.2
In aromatherapy practice, borage oil can be used in skin care products, particularly for conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and wrinkles (due to the presence of bonded fatty acid chemical components). I usually advise combining borage oil with other carrier oils, as its aroma is often “disagreeable” to some, and the thickness of the oil makes it easier to apply in combination with another carrier oil, such as sunflower (Helianthus annuus). I will be suggesting some aromatherapy blends with the use of borage oil in the conclusion of this particular trilogy of posts.
Borage oil is not known to have any contra-indications for use.
Learn More About Carrier Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie
If you would like to learn how to use carrier oils in aromatherapy blends, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM Program.
Price, Lenn, 1999, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, UK: Riverhead Publishing
Grieve, m. 1998. A Modern Herbal, accessed online at: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/borage66.html
* Author’s own opinion.
* Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry and a UK-certified aromatherapist. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She works from her home studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she is in the process of creating her own aromatic stillroom on her one acre homestead and aromatic gardens.