Borage (Liu Li Ju)
Botanical Name: Borago officinalis
Borage is wonderful plant that has been grown for both its medicinal value and as a wonderful honey. In Europe, it is widely enjoyed as a food and medicine. In the U.S., it is popularly cultivated as an herbal supplement for its high content of GLA (Gamma-linoleic acid), a fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation and dilate blood vessels. The flowers and leaves are edible. Borage helps restore the adrenal glands and we know that Roman soldiers would mix borage tea with wine before a battle to fortify themselves.
Below is an overview of Peach (Tao Zi), combining and interpreting the best of Western Science, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Shamanism, Folklore and more. Gain a balanced and thorough understanding of the healing properties of Peach (Tao Zi).
Western Name: Borage
Also Known As: Starflower, Burrage, Bee Plant, Bee Bread
Organs/Systems: Kidney, Metabolism, Hormones, Skin
Key Actions: Diuretic, Demulcent, Emollient, Anti-inflammatory, Sedative
Medicinal Uses: Colic, cramps, diarrhea, asthma, bronchitis, cardiotonic, blood cleanser, kidney and bladder disorders, regulates metabolism and hormonal systems, PMS, hot flashes, skin rashes, itchy dry skin conditions
Pin Yin: Liu Li Ju
Also Known As: N/A
Meridians: Liver, Lung
Key Actions: Cools Damp Heat in the Lower Jiao, Cools Liver Heat, Cools Lungs, Clears Damp.
Medicinal Uses: Kidney and Bladder disorders, diarrhea, cramping, jaundice, irregular menses, diarrhea, anxiety, PMS, coughs, bronchitis, asthma. Externally for hot dry skin disorders and joint pain.
Parts Most Frequently Used: Leaf, Flower, Seed
Flavors/Temps: Bitter, Warming, Sweet
Caution: Considered safe.
History/Folklore: The leaves are edible and the plant is commercially cultivated for borage seed oil and culinary and medicinal uses. It is an excellent fresh vegetable or dried herb. As a fresh vegetable it tastes a bit like cucumber and is often used in salads or as a garnish. The flower has a sweet honey taste and is often used to make syrup and decorate cakes and cocktails. The blue flowers are traditionally used to garnish the Pimms Cup cocktail.
The fresh herb steeped in water and added to lemon, sugar and wine, makes a wonderful refreshing summer drink.
The Latin name, Borago, is where the popular name, borage, comes from and is believed to be a corruption of “corago” which combines the meaning of “the heart” and “I bring”, referencing the herbs delicious cordial effects. Another theory of the name’s origin states that it derived from the Italian word “borra” for hair or wool, due to the plant’s hairy stems and leaves.
As a vegetable it is most popular in Germany, Spain, Northern Italy and Greece. It is used in salads, soups, and as a filling for ravioli.
In the early part of the nineteenth century the young tops were still boiled as a pot-herb, with the young leaves added to salads. Older leaves become hairy, prickly and unappealing.
In France, the herb is popularly used to treat fevers and pulmonary complaints.
Borage seeds are the richest known source of GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid), a fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation and dilate blood vessels. The oil is often marketed as “starflower oil” or “borage oil” as a GLA supplement.
The saline constituents in the plant contribute to the plant’s effectiveness at supporting kidney functioning.
The leaves are most commonly used medicinally. They are gathered when the plant is coming into flower.
Borage is a wonderful flower for your garden. It is a prolific self-seeder and will come back year after year. It thrives in poor soils with good light and regular watering.
Seeds: Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), Fatty acids, Stearic acid, Oleic acid, Linoleic acid, Erucic acid, Nervonic acid. Leaves: Pyrrolizidine alkaloids (toxic PA), Thesinine (non-toxic PA), Potassium, Calcium, Mineral acids, Saline mucilage, Zinc, Vitamins C & B, Beta carotene.
For internal use, you can make a simple infusion by adding 1 oz of fresh leaves to 1 pint of boiling water, boil for 3-5 minutes.
Weak and Fainting?
The candied flowers were used to invigorate the very sick and help revive someone from a fainting spell.
Essential Oil for GLA
Borage is most often sold as a concentrated oil used to treat arthritis and as a supplement for Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid that helps reduce inflammation and dilate blood vessels.
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