How Does Borage Oil Affect the Adrenals?

Reviewed by Jeannie Randall
Borage Plant
The borage plant.

Borage oil has been shown in scientific studies to have an impact on the body's hormonal activity. It is through this hormonal effect that the oil of borage seeds can possibly strengthen adrenal function.

Important Components of Borage Oil

Borage oil is a rich source of gamma linolenic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid that has a profound effect upon many of the body's systems. Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) is thought to be responsible for many of borage oil's healing properties because it possesses extreme potential as an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation has been implicated in numerous diseases and some alternative practitioners deduce that by counteracting inflammation, the body can be led to healing.

GLA's value as an anti-inflammatory substance has been confirmed through research conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

So what causes inflammation and where exactly does borage oil factor in to the picture? Inflammation can be triggered by a number of causes, from pathogens to toxic amounts of hormones. Where the latter is concerned, there exists a certain amount of adrenal cortex involvement.

Adrenal Stress and Exhaustion

In fast-paced societies, many people rely on stimulant substances to maintain peak energy levels. Everything from coffee to illicit drugs and even high doses of ginseng are considered stimulants. Stimulant substances trigger the adrenal glands to release stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. It should also be noted that periods of prolonged or sudden stress will also result in a release of these hormones.

In small amounts, such hormonal substances are necessary for human function. However, when the body fails to stop producing cortisol due to constant stressors or stimulants, danger ensues. Excess cortisol can lead to inflammation which, in turn, can contribute to disease factors. Should the adrenal cortex continue to pump out these stress hormones, not only will the body eventually suffer, but also the adrenal glands will experience exhaustion.

The Adrenal Affect

So how does borage oil affect the adrenals specifically? Gamma linolenic acid converts into a hormonal substance called prostaglandin, which can fight inflammation within the body. Borage oil also helps the adrenal glands to relax.

In the article "Effects of dietary gamma-linolenic acid on blood pressure and adrenal angiotensin receptors in hypertensive rats" published in the July, 1998 edition of Proceedings Of The Society For Experimental Biology And Medicine, researchers identified the gamma linolenic acid in borage inhibits the adrenal response to angiotensin 2, which in turn allows the adrenal glands to relax and restore to their natural balance.

Where to Find Borage Oil

Borage oil is available in most health food stores. It can be found in capsule form or also in the refrigerated health oils section. In some cases, it is compounded with other oils such as flaxseed in order to promote a nutritional balance and enhance certain properties.

Possible Side Effects and Medical Information

Borage oil should always be kept refrigerated and in containers that offer ultra-violet protection. The omega fatty acids contained within borage oil are very sensitive to heat and light.

Borage oil functions as an anti-coagulant so it is contraindicated prior to surgeries and for persons on pharmaceutical anti-coagulants. Also, borage oil possesses a high content of natural fats which may cause side effects in the form of gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas and diarrhea.

Also, borage oil is derived from the seeds of the borage plant. However, the leaves and stems of this plant harbor harmful toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids. One should always check the labels of any borage oil products to ensure that processing has eliminated these substances from the formulation. The FDA has not approved borage oil for the treatment of adrenal exhaustion.

Consult Your Doctor

As an herbal remedy for adrenal exhaustion, borage oil can be used in conjunction with other healing herbs such as licorice root. Be sure to consult your doctor regarding any supplements you may be taking, especially if you are already receiving treatment for a specific medical condition.

Always tell your doctor about all herbs, supplements, vitamins and alternative therapies you are using. Please consult with a physician if you suspect you have adrenal exhaustion, since many several serious medical conditions can cause adrenal exhaustion.

How Does Borage Oil Affect the Adrenals?