Last update Feb. 1, 2017


Likely Compatibility

Fairly safe. Mild or unlikely adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Read Commentary.

Native plant from the Mediterranean region which is used as food.
For medicinal uses the inflorescences, leaves, stems and the oil of its seeds have been used.

The leaves contain traces of pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are known to be carcinogenic and hepatotoxic. The seed oil which is very rich in unsaturated fatty acids: gamma-linolenic (GLA), linoleic and oleic, is free of toxics alkaloids. Only products extracted from borage that are free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids should be consumed.

There is not enough evidence on the effectiveness of borage oil for topical treatment of eczema or arthritis (Cameron 2011, Bamford 2013).

Indication of borage by Commission E of the German Ministry of Health: none.

Mother’s diet supplementation with borage oil will increase GLA levels in breast milk (Thijs 2000). Preterm infants have been supplemented with borage oil as a source of GLA without side effects occurred (Demmelmair 2001, Fewtrell 2004).
A moderate and at short-term consumption of the oil is advised, since cases of severe intoxication have been reported. (Al-Khamees 2011).

Whenever used as food it is necessary be aware of it is a plant with a high content of nitrates with reported cases of methaemoglobinaemia in infants who were fed boiled mashed-borage, albeit this has not been described to occur through breastmilk (Martínez 2013).

Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.

Other names

Borage is also known as

Borage in other languages or writings:


Main tradenames from several countries containing Borage in its composition:


  1. EMA - HMPC. Public statement on the use of herbal medicinal products containing toxic, unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs). Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) 2014 Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  2. Bamford JT, Ray S, Musekiwa A, van Gool C, Humphreys R, Ernst E. Oral evening primrose oil and borage oil for eczema. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Abstract
  3. Martinez A, Sanchez-Valverde F, Gil F, Clerigué N, Aznal E, Etayo V, Vitoria I, Oscoz M. Methemoglobinemia induced by vegetable intake in infants in northern Spain. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2013 Abstract
  4. EMA-EFSA. Compendium of botanicals reported to contain naturally occuring substances of possible concern for human health when used in food and food supplements. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). 2012 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  5. Al-Khamees WA, Schwartz MD, Alrashdi S, Algren AD, Morgan BW. Status epilepticus associated with borage oil ingestion. J Med Toxicol. 2011 Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  6. Cameron M, Gagnier JJ, Chrubasik S. Herbal therapy for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Abstract
  7. Fewtrell MS, Abbott RA, Kennedy K, Singhal A, Morley R, Caine E, Jamieson C, Cockburn F, Lucas A. Randomized, double-blind trial of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation with fish oil and borage oil in preterm infants. J Pediatr. 2004 Abstract
  8. Demmelmair H, Feldl F, Horváth I, Niederland T, Ruszinkó V, Raederstorff D, De Min C, Muggli R, Koletzko B. Influence of formulas with borage oil or borage oil plus fish oil on the arachidonic acid status in premature infants. Lipids. 2001 Abstract
  9. Thijs C, Houwelingen A, Poorterman I, Mordant A, van den Brandt P. Essential fatty acids in breast milk of atopic mothers: comparison with non-atopic mothers, and effect of borage oil supplementation. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2000 Abstract

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