Borage gives courage... and beautiful skin!
Updated: Nov 14, 2018
I use many exciting and exotic ingredients in my products from far flung corners of the world, some from plants that only grow within a narrow band of the equator or are produced by centuries old trees that only grow in certain parts and climatic regions of the world that I can only dream of visiting, BUT one of my main ingredients that is a staple in almost all of my products is Borage seed oil pressed from the little black bomb-shaped seeds of the annual Borage plant (Borago officinalis).
And the humble borage I’ve got growing in abundance right here all around my own garden and it flowers profusely through the spring and summer, and even now in late autumn there are still a few bright blue flowers showing but soon with the first frost the borage will be gone…and so I find it befitting to dedicate this months blogpost to the wonderful Borage.
Borage, or star-flower as it is also called because of its brilliant blue star-shaped flowers, is one of my absolute all-time favourite herbs. Everything about this plant from the leaves, flowers and seeds to the oil is soothing, nourishing and joyful.
Borage is native to Syria but is now naturalized throughout Europe, Middle East, North Africa and South America (as well as my garden!).
In spring and summer the patches of borage are always buzzing with bees - even now well into autumn I find the odd bumble bee swooning around in the wilting borage hopeful for a last feed before winter.
Studying old herb books, Borage is often referred to as the ‘Herb of Gladness and Courage’ renowned for its ability lift spirits and gladden the heart, disperse sadness & melancholy, invigorate the body and give great courage.
Steeped in folk lore and symbolism borage’s brilliant blue starry flowers became a flower symbol of courage and womenfolk embroidered these on scarves and presented them to warriors before battle, and Roman soldiers were said to have consumed borage wine before going to war, chanting “Ego borago / Gaudia semper ago,” (“I, borage / bring always courage”) (Prater, n.d.).)
In the age of chivalry in England, a cup of borage tea was often drunk by competitors before tournaments and to lift mind & spirit (perhaps after the tournament) borage was steeped in wine and drunk - as a supercharged merry-making drink!
To make a simple stress-relieving Borage Tea use:
1 tablespoon of fresh bruised young leaves in a cup of boiling water.
If you are unable to get fresh, 1 teaspoon of dried leaves will work just as well.
Steep for 5-10 minutes in a covered teacup or increase for steeping in a teapot.
This is a fantastic tea to boost your spirits during a tough time, and to help reduce anxiety or fatigue from over work….and who doesn’t need that once in a while!!
Running my own small business is exciting and empowering but at times it is also full-on busy and exhausting and I sometimes get feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
Borage tea comes to the rescue to gently revive and renew the adrenals and lighten the mood - in fact, there is one steaming borage & chamomile cuppa next to me right now!
But the greatest gift of borage is in the oil.
The biggish bomb-shaped black seeds of borage are cold pressed to yield the precious pale yellow borage seed oil.
Borage seed oil is in some ways a more condensed version of the plant itself.
The oil is an incredibly rich source (17 - 25%) of GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) a polyunsaturated fatty acid (Omega-6) which play a most important role in the maintenance of healthy skin, improvement of skin functioning and for the alleviation of skin disorders.
This wonderful and easily absorbed oil is suitable for all skin types and deeply moisturises skin with long-lasting hydration. It offers regenerative, anti-inflammatory and firming properties and helps to improve skin elasticity and restore smoothness.
The balancing quality of borage oil gives it anti-inflammatory benefits to chronic skin disorders and it will help alleviate both eczema and acne conditions .
The hair and scalp will also greatly benefit from the revitalising effects of Borage oil.
The wonderful virtues of Borage for skin, hair, mind & body makes it a plant that is difficult to bypass, a humble yet precious gift to woman and man, and I use organic cold pressed borage seed oil in nearly all my formulations.
…and sipping the last of my borage tea I’m paying a silent ’thank you’ to this season’s wonderfully abundant, lush and happy display of Borage!
💜 💜 💜
Sources: ‘The book of Herbs’ by Dorothy Hall
‘How can I use herbs in my daily life’ by Isabel Shipard
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