Borage Oil Supplement Review

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Borage Oil
  Evaluated for:
Effectiveness Rating Effectiveness Rating
Rheumatoid Arthritis
+1 (Slight Evidence)
+1 (Slight Evidence)
Fibrocystic breast disease
+1 (Slight Evidence)


  • Borage oil, consisting of 17-25% gamma-linolenic acid, is an anti-inflammatory, dietary fatty acid found in many plant extracts. Very little gamma-linolenic acid is found in the diet. Borage and evening primrose oils are the most common sources used in studies.
  • Borage oil is used in the treatment of menopause symptoms, fibrocystic breast disease, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. Though results are mixed, studies have shown some benefit in reducing inflammation and pain of rheumatoid arthritis and fibrocystic breast disease.
  • Topical GLA is safe to use on eczema in place of steroid creams.
  • Properly used borage oil seems to have an anti-inflammatory effect. This potential is stronger in individuals with high dietary of omega-3 fatty acids prior to treatment with omega-6 gamma linolenic acid.
  • Borage oil is generally regarded as safe.


  • Side effects may include soft stools, diarrhea, belching, and bloating.
  • Because borage oil may also contain constituents that are toxic to the liver, consumers should buy only certified , “hepatotoxic PA-free,” packages. Exposure to even small amounts of the toxins may be carcinogenic or may cause severe veno-occlusive disease.
  • There is some controversy about the safety of borage oil. There have been cases of poisoning after confusion with foxglove.

Borage oil is contraindicated in pregnancy given its potential for inducing labor and causing birth defects. Borage oil may lower the seizure threshold in certain patients, thereby increasing the likelihood of seizure. It also has the potential for interaction with warfarin, a common blood thinner. Therefore, patients on seizure medications or warfarin should not use borage oil. Women in the childbearing years should not use this supplement.

DOSAGE:The typical dosage of borage oil for treating eczema is 1-2 grams daily. Rheumatoid arthritis is treated with 2-3 g daily. The typical dosage of GLA when it is used for alleviating cyclic mastalgia (breast pain) or eczema is 200-400 mg daily (2-4 g of evening primrose oil, or 1-2 g borage oil).

CONCLUSION:We conclude that borage oil is a safe adjunct product for treating rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, and fibrocystic breast disease. Unfortunately, the full anti-inflammatory effect may take up to 6 months to become apparent.

“Borage Oil.” LLC, 2013. 3 August 2013.
“Borage Seed Oil.” Natural Standard –The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Natural Standard, 2013.
“Borage.” Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2013. 8 November 2013.
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA). EBSCO CAM Review Board (2011) 1-11
Fan, Y., Chapkin, R. et al. Importance of Dietary y-Linolenic Acid in Human Health and Nutrition. JN The Journal of Nutrition (1998) 1411-1414

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