Forage Through Borage Seed Oil

By: Callie Pillsbury on Aug 23, 2017

An old folk tale exclaims that if a woman wants a man to propose, she should slip some borage into the the man’s tea to give him the courage to propose. Let’s see if borage can give you the same boldness.


borage-seed-oil-photo.jpgBorage is an herb grown in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. The borage plant is also known as the star flower because it has bright blue star shaped flowers. The flowers, leaves, and seeds are all edible in the borage plant. The leaves are reported to have a cucumber like taste. The colorful flower portion can be used in teas or as cake decorations. Finally, the seeds can be used to make borage seed oil.


Borage seed oil has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal and culinary properties. Borage oil is created by cold pressing the seeds of the borage plant. It is typically used as a nutritional supplement rather than in foods.

Nutritional composition. Borage seed oil is known to be high in omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid and gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Omega-6 fatty acids are essential in the diet and are related to inflammatory processes in the body. A healthy diet involves a balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The fatty acid composition of borage seed oil is approximately 35-40% linoleic acid and 22-24% GLA, which are both omega-6 fatty acids. Oleic, docosenoic, isosenoic, stearic, and palmitic acids are other fatty acids also found in smaller amounts in borage oil (1).

Gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Borage seed oil is unique because it has a high amount of GLA, which is atypical among oils. In fact, borage oil has the highest content of GLA compared to any other oil. GLA has the attribute of being both an omega-6 fatty acid and an essential fatty acid. Even though GLA is an omega 6 fatty acid, some studies show that it can actually decrease inflammation, as opposed to promoting inflammation. This occurs because GLA in the body is converted to prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are responsible for reducing inflammation. When nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, and zinc are present in the diet, there is a higher conversion of GLA to prostaglandins. Even though omega-6 fatty acids are destined to be converted to prostaglandins, numerous factors can interfere with this progression. Factors that interfere are aging, saturated fat, inadequate nutrients, and chronic disease. The supplementation of borage seed oil with GLA helps ensure adequate conversion of prostaglandins to function as anti-inflammatory agents (2). 


Borage seed oil is only used in cold preparation of foods. It adds extra flavors to salads or as a standalone ingredient


Borage seed oil can be converted to an powder through the process of spray drying. Spray drying for microencapsulation is very different than fluidized bed processes. In spray drying for encapsulation, we change a liquid into a powdered form. 


1. Herbal Oil: Borage Oil Benefits and Uses. Accessed August 9, 2017.

2. Gamma-linolenic acid. University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed August 9, 2017.