Health Guide


What is it?

Borage is an herbal medicine used to treat arthritis, eczema (itchy, scratchy, scaly skin), and seborrheic dermatitis (scaly, crusty scalp).

Other names for Borage include: Borago officinalis, Beebread, Bee Plant, Ox's Tongue, and Starflower.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse about how much Borage you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Borage. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the label. Do not take more Borage or take it more often than what is written on the directions.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Borage without talking to your doctor first if you are taking:

  • Blood thinning medicine (examples: warfarin (Coumadin(R)), clopidogrel (Plavix(R)), aspirin, enoxaparin (Lovenox(R)), dalteparin (Fragmin(R))) (11)


  • Before taking Borage, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not use large doses of Borage leaf (6)
  • Do not use Borage leaf for a long time (6)
  • Borage leaf is for external (on the skin) use only (6)
  • Do not use Borage leaf on open (cut) skin (7)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects.

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, or rash.

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Borage oil can cause diarrhea and gas (flatulence and belching) (9)
  • Borage herb can cause constipation (difficulty having bowel movements) (10)


1. Nissen HP, Biltz H & Muggli R: Borage Oil: gamma-linolenic acid in the oil decreases skin roughness and TEWL and increases skin moisture in normal and irritated human skin. Cosmetics Toiletries Mag 1995; 110:71-73,76.

2. Borelli S, Bresser H & Belsan I: Externe Therpie mit Gamma-Linolensaeure - Ergebnis einer Doppelblindstudie. Z Hautkrankheiten 1994; 8(69):523-524.

3. Buslau M & Thaci D: Atopische Dermatitis: Borretschoel zur systemischen Therapie. Z Dermatol 1996; 182:131-136.

4. Bahmer FA & Schaefer J: Die Behandlung der atopischen Dermatitis mit Borretschsamen-Oel (Glandol(R)) - eine zeitreihenanalytische Studie. Kinderaerztl. Praxis 1992; 60:199-202.

5. Tollesson A & Frithz A: Borage oil, an effective new treatment for infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis. Br J Dermatol 1993; 129:95.

6. Hoffman D: The Herb Users Guide, the Basic Skills of Medical Herbalism. Thorsons, Wellingborough, UK; 1987.

7. McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R et al (eds): American Herbal Products Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL; 1997.

8. Brinker F: Herb Contraindications and Drug Interactions. Eclectic Medical Publications, Sandy, OR; 1998.

9. Leventhal LJ, Boyce EG & Zurier RB: Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with gammalinolenic acid. Ann Intern Med 1993; 119(9): 867-873.

10. Tyler VE: Borage, in The Honest Herbal, a Sensible Guide to the Use of Herbs and Related Remedies, 3rd ed. Pharmaceutical Products Press, an imprint of the Haworth Press Inc, Binghamton, NY; 1993: 51-53.

11. Norred CL & Brinker F: Potential coagulation effects of preoperative complementary and alternative medicines. Alt Ther 2001; 7(6):58-67.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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