Borage was not a carrier oil that was covered in the first aromatherapy course I took so many years ago. In those days, a strong emphasis was placed on applying the essential oils through massage, and we tended to stick to carriers that were more versatile and had a longer shelf life. As I continued with my own studies I learned more about the carrier oils. As each carrier has its own properties, combining them in my blends added another layer of complexity. I found this especially helpful if the client was going to use the blend at home. And of course, it is especially helpful to consider when creating a product line. Borage is still not a carrier oil that I tend to use on its own, but I certainly consider adding it to other carriers for a number of different conditions.
Borage (Borago officinalis)
Description: Borage is an annual herb that is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other places as well. The plant can grow up to 2 feet or more. Traditionally it was cultivated for culinary and medicinal use, however today oil production is also very important. Jan Kusmirek says that the fresh plant tastes like a mixture of cucumber and shellfish. The young leaves are often added to soups and salads. The edible fresh flowers are often candied.
History Folklore: Borage is also referred to as beebread because bees love the blue star-like flowers so much. The herb’s flower has also led to some people referring to this herb as ‘Starflower’. The word Borage possibly comes from the Latin burra, which means a hairy garment and would refer to the long, rough, somewhat prickly hairs on the leaves.
Garden cultivation: Borage is an herb that can be cultivated in the garden. It grows quickly as an annual but will also colonize by self-seeding. The flowers appear in June and July. A lovely plant to include in a butterfly garden. Growing Borage alongside strawberries can attract pollinators, which could increase the yield of fruit.
Harvest: Cut the fresh leaves during the summer. The seeds are ready when the flowers begin to fade. Once the flowers have turned brown the seeds should be ready.
Extraction: A pale yellow virtually odorless oil with a slightly sweet fatty taste is pressed from the seeds of borage. It is a thin oil with an oily texture. It absorbs into the skin rapidly and leaves little or no residue on the skin.
Shelf Life: 6 months can go rancid quickly
Cautions: Generally considered safe to use on all skin types, however as it penetrated broken damaged skin faster than undamaged skin it may irritate if used on damaged skin.
Actions: Anti-arthritic, anti-dandruff, anti-inflammatory, emollient, hypo-allergenic, immune stimulant and wound healing.
Uses: This oil can be used on all skin types and is helpful for regenerating skin. Borage is often used as an ingredient in skin care products and may be substituted for Evening Primrose oil. It helps to keep the skin healthy and reduce inflammation. Borage has also been successfully used in cases of cradle cap, dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis to help reduce dryness, itching and inflammation. Because Borage encourages the renewal of skin cells, as well as calming and soothing sensitive skin, it is often added to anti-aging protocols, or added to face care products to address wrinkles. Borage is also often added to after-sun formulations. In hair care, borage has been found helpful in dealing with dried or over-treated hair. Massaging it into the scalp helps prevent hair loss and encourage new hair growth. It is most often used as 10 – 30% of the carrier base.
Borage is one of the carriers that can be helpful when dealing with eczema.
References Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman, The Home Apothecary, 2013 Jan Kusmirek, Liquid Sunshine, Vegetable Oils for Aromatherapy, 2002 Julia Lawless, The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Sourcebook, 2017 Susan M Parker, Power of the Seed, Your guide to oils for health & beauty, 2014 Len Price, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy and Massage, 1999 Danielle Sage, the Aromatherapy Beauty Guide, 2017