Native to the Mediterranean region, and occasionally found in northern Africa, Borage is highly popular for its appearance, particularly during a full bloom, when it becomes bright blue with five triangular petals, earning it the nickname ‘starflower’. It prefers sunny areas, though it doesn’t have specific nutritional requirements. It produces on its own, and grows freely by itself.
It can grow up to 3 feet in length, and 12 inches in width. It has several different uses as an herb, blossom or flavoring. Among many of borage’s benefits, it can be used for health, gardening and other natural benefits.
Benefits of Borage
The Borage plant is known as the “cucumber herb”. It can create blue vinegar with the blossoms, while its leaves can be used for emerald vinegar. It comes with a cucumber flavor, and many people bottle the vinegar as a gift.
In earlier years, the plant was used by soldiers for additional courage. Mixed in wine, it would be given to travelers before journeys to boost their moral. The Celts used it during campaigns, and gave it to those competing in the Middle Ages to encourage them. As time progressed, people began to realize it restored energy to those who drank it, and boosted their moods.
Borage leaf is a natural diuretic, which means that it increases your body’s production of sweat, urine and other body fluids. It can be mixed into hot drinks, and drank to encourage detoxification. The leaves raise adrenaline levels, lowering stress and relieving the effects of steroid therapies.
The leaves provide a number of other benefits, including operating as a prime source of vitamin C, organic calcium and potassium. The leaves contain Flavonoid, which is a known booster for immune health, and produces silicic acids, which can stabilize mood swings.
Borage seeds can be made into seed oil, which holds polyunsaturated fatty acids. These acids are particularly beneficial to those suffering from metabolic problems like obesity, PMS, high blood pressure, eczema and alcoholism. In pregnant women, it can stimulate lactation.
In addition to the above benefits, borage can provide relief to sore throats, congestion and fever reduction. It can be made into delicious teas. One good example mixture is dried borage and Echinacea brewed into hot water and stirred. This tea relieves medical symptoms, and targets measles, chicken pox, flu, mumps and cold.
In the wild, it protects neighboring plants and vegetables from insects and prevents them from eating the plants. Many gardeners use this plant as a form of insecticide, in order to prevent artificial insecticides from contaminating their crops. Borage is considered a low-cost, natural way to prevent insects from taking root in your garden. In addition to its insecticidal properties, it attract honeybees year-round and encourages pollination in the area.
How to Use Borage
Also known as starflower and part of the Boraginaceae family, Borage has many different uses, and provides a wealth of benefits to those who explore and use it. It isn’t just for health either. Borage, as a spice and flavoring, can provide a delicious taste to soups and salads. It’s best if sprinkled after the food is prepared.
1. A delicious Tea
A quarter of a cup of fresh leaves with boiling hot water is enough to make this delicious treat. Simply leave it to rest for around five minutes, before draining through strainer. You can also use this tea for many other uses aside from its delicious taste, such as helping to soothe a painful throat problem, helping with cold symptoms, and alleviating a cough. IBS and stomach problems are also quite amenable to borage tea too.
2. Use for Cooking
You will find that borage leaves have a distinct cucumber-y taste, so when added to food this can bring out a different type of flavor. Salads, soups, and stew recipes are particularly good, or you could go one further and deep fry the leaves, after coating them in batter. Dishes which contain fish are also a good choice to add borage leaves too.
3. A Soothing Aid for Bites and Skin Issues
Find a light gauze material and place a few chopped leaves inside. Hold the material over the area for a short while.
4. Pretty Side Accompaniment
The light flavor of borage flowers adds a tasty and attractive garnish to salads, drinks, and dishes in general.
5. Boost Other Plant Growth
As highlighted above, planting borage in your garden boosts the growth of plants around it, because it is a magnet for bees. On top of this, other garden-related nasties don’t like presence of borage, so if you have tomatoes or cabbages in particular, plant borage next to them.
6. Use as a Compost/Fertilizer
Borage is rich in potassium which makes it a great compost to spread on soil, as well as being rich in calcium too.
A Word of Caution
Avoid borage use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always use borage in moderation, as it has been shown to be a diuretic in some cases, and has also been linked with liver toxicity, if used in overly high amounts.