Borage (Borago officinalis) has a long historical reputation for making the heart merry and dispelling melancholy, called ‘Euphrosium’ by Pliny due to its euphoric effect and famous for the quote ‘I, borage, bring always courage’. However, its name probably derives from the Latin ‘burra’ meaning ‘hairy garment’ – which aptly describes its furry buds and leaves. In the 19th century the young tops were boiled as a pot-herb and the flowers were preserved and candied.
Borage is used medicinally for fevers and externally to poultice inflammatory swellings and treat dry skin conditions. The oil from the seeds is very useful in premenstrual syndrome and can be taken daily in capsules for eczema. Borage can be used as a tonic for stress . It stimulates milk flow and the adrenal glands, soothes damaged or irritated tissues and the oil lowers blood pressure.
A cooling, saline, diuretic herb with mild sedative and anti-depressant effects.
CAUTION: Do not consume large or regular amounts of the foliage.
Gather leaves in the spring or summer as the plant begins to flower.
Benefits strawberries as a companion plant. Attracts bees.
PLEASE NOTE: These notes on the history and use of herbs have been compiled for general interest and are not intended as medical advice, for which you should consult a professional herbalist.
'A Modern Herbal' Mrs M. Grieve FRHS ed. Mrs C. F. Leyel (1973)
'The Herb Society's Complete Medicinal Herbal' Penelope Ody MNIMH (1993)
'RHS Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses' Deni Brown (2002)