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Borage oil

General Information

Borage oil is an herb found in Syria and parts of the Middle East and Mediterranean. The oil is high in GLA, which is an essential fatty acid that must be obtained from foods and is required for normal growth and development.

Common Name(s)

borage oil, borage, starflower oil

Scientific Name(s)

Borago officinalis

Scientific Name(s)

The flowers and leaves are edible and the seeds are used to produce oils that are high in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA).  Borage oils are also available in supplements. These supplements are taken orallyorallyto be taken by mouth (swallowed) and may come in various forms, including capsules, strips, liquid, tablets, and powders. The dosage ranges from about 3.7 to 5 grams per day, depending on age and what it is being used for. Borage oil has been standardized to 18-27% GLA.

What is this product used for?

Borage oil has been used for different purposes, including:

  • maintaining overall good health
  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • eczema
  • atopic dermatitisdermatitisinflamed skin or skin rash
  • infantile seborrheic dermatitis
  • neurodermatitis
  • stress
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • diabetes
  • attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • acute respiratory distress syndrome
  • alcoholism
  • inflammation
  • prevention heart disease and stroke

Your health care provider may have recommended this product for other conditions. Contact a health care provider if you have questions.

What else should I be aware of?

Studies have shown that borage oil may help improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when take together with conventional treatments such as analgesics and anti-inflammatories. You may see an improvement in symptoms such as a decrease in the number of tender and swollen joints. It is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist if this supplement is right for you before starting it.

An analysis of clinical trials has shown that GLA is likely ineffective for atopic dermatitisdermatitisinflamed skin or skin rash.

Some studies have shown that borage oil may help with gingivitis and infantile seborrheic dermatitis, but more research is needed.

The most recent research has shown that borage oil does not help to improve symptoms of mild-to-moderate asthma.  

This product is generally well-tolerated. Borage oil may increase your risk of seizure, but the evidence is conflicting.

Borage oil can slow blood clotting. When it is taken with other medications that can affect your body's ability to clot blood, borage oil can increase the chance of bleeding.

You should avoid taking borage oil if you are allergic to borage, or if you have severe liver disease, or seizure disorder.

There may be an interaction between borage oil and the following medications:

  • medications for seizure disorders (e.g., phenytoin, carbamazepine)
  • blood-thinning medications (e.g., warfarin, clopidogrel, ASA)
  • some antibiotics used for tubertubera fleshy underground stem or rootculosis (e.g., rifampin)

Before taking any new medications, including natural health products, speak to your physician, pharmacist, or other health care provider. Tell your health care provider about any natural health products you may be taking.


*All medications have both common (generic) and brand names. The brand name is what a specific manufacturer calls the product (e.g., Tylenol®). The common name is the medical name for the medication (e.g., acetaminophen). A medication may have many brand names, but only one common name. This article lists medications by their common names. For information on a given medication, check our Drug Information database. For more information on brand names, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

Source(s)

  • Cleveland Clinic Wellness: Borage Oil Supplement Review. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/BorageOil.aspx#. Accessed March 28, 2015.
  • The American Cancer Society. Gamma Linolenic Acid. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/pharmacologicalandbiologicaltreatment/gamma-linolenic-acid. Accessed March 28, 2015
  • Borage (monograph). Natural Medicines. (Accessed online March 28, 2015)
  • Health Canada. Licensed Natural Health Products database. Borage Oil. http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=49 (accessed March 28, 2015)
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