Borage the Happy Herb


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I think my favourite part of researching herbs is finding out their stories.  Just like people many herbs have fascinating histories.  Borage is one of these plants. 


During the time of the Roman Empire, it was not unusual for soldiers to spend years away from their homes and families.  Since the usual term of service during the first century AD was about 20 years this could be an extreme hardship.  Borage was given to the soldiers to help them stay happy. 

Borage was also known as the “herb of courage”.  The romans would mix borage in wine or make a tea prior to battles.  It was thought that borage would give them the courage to go into battle.  Men that wanted to marry would sometimes steep borage and drink it to give them the courage to propose. 

Borage was thought to “make a man merry” (Pliny) and “comfort the heart” (Dioscorides).  In Victorian times and even now borage has been added to claret cups to help raise spirits.  Here is a recent recipe.

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Borage is an herb that supports the adrenal glands.  The adrenals are what releases adrenaline into the body for the “fight or flight” reaction.  Adrenal fatigue is caused, in part, by stress.  Taking borage can help prevent adrenal fatigue. 

The sedative properties of borage are what make it excellent for the treatment of stress and anxiety.  It can help with menopausal mood swings and PMS. 

Borage has a high essential fatty acid content.  In particular it is rich in gamma linolenic acid.  This makes it excellent for the treatment of cardiovascular issues. 

Currently borage is being studied as a treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis.  The anti-inflammatory properties can remove the inflammation and swelling of the joints. 

Borage is an excellent treatment for skin conditions. 

On a personal note, I was taking borage during the time I was being downsized from my corporate position.  It definitely made a difficult time more bearable. 

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Borage is one of those herbs that is beneficial to your garden.  It helps other plants grow.  It is good for you mind body and spirit.  It is also an excellent culinary herb. 

Areas of the Mediterranean use the leaves in salads or as a side dish.  It is added to stews and drinks.  It is high in calcium, iron, potassium, zinc and vitamin B and C. 


As with most other herbs borage should not be used in conjunction with blood thinners and anti clotting medications.  It should not be used long term as it contains alkaloids that can be harmful to your liver if used for prolonged periods of time. 

Borage soothes our spirits with its beauty, our minds with its sedative effects and our bodies with its anti-inflammatory properties.  It is truly a gift from the garden.