Borage oil is derived from the seeds of the borage (Borago officinalis) plant, a large plant with blue, star-shaped flowers found throughout Europe and North Africa and naturalized to North America.1

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for Why
3 Stars
Rheumatoid Arthritis
1.1 to 2.8 grams of GLA daily
Oils containing the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid, such as borage oil, have been reported to be effective in treating people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Oils containing the omega-6 fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA)—borage oil, black currant seed oil, and evening primrose oil (EPO)—have been reported to be effective in the treatment for people with RA. Although the best effects have been reported with use of borage oil, that may be because more GLA was used in borage oil trials (1.1–2.8 grams per day) compared with trials using black currant seed oil or EPO. The results with EPO have been mixed and confusing, possibly because the placebo used in those trials (olive oil) may have anti-inflammatory activity. In a double-blind trial, positive results were seen when EPO was used in combination with fish oil. GLA appears to be effective because it is converted in part to prostaglandin E1, a hormone-like substance known to have anti-inflammatory activity.

2 Stars
5 grams (providing 890 mg of gamma-linolenic acid) per day
In one study, supplementing with borage oil helped reduce the amount of weight regained by obese people who had previously shed pounds.
In a double-blind study of obese people who had previously lost an average of about 66 pounds, supplementation with 5 grams of borage oil per day (providing 890 mg per day of gamma-linolenic acid) significantly reduced the average amount of weight regained over the next 12 months (4.8 pounds versus 19.3 pounds in the placebo group). It is believed that borage oil worked by correcting certain abnormalities of essential fatty acid metabolism that are common in people predisposed to obesity.
1 Star
Seborrheic Dermatitis
Refer to label instructions
Topically applied borage oil may improve cradle cap symptoms.

A group of researchers found that infants with cradle cap appeared to have an imbalance of essential fatty acids in their blood that returned to normal when their skin rashes eventually went away. In a preliminary trial, these researchers later found that application of 0.5 ml of borage oil twice daily to the affected skin resulted in clinical improvement of cradle cap within two weeks.

How It Works

How to Use It

For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, the amounts of GLA from borage used in successful double-blind trials were 1.4–2.8 grams daily for at least two months.2 , 3 Although 360 mg of GLA daily from borage oil has been used to treat people with eczema, controlled research has not supported its use for this condition.4 Topically, 0.5 ml of borage oil may be applied to areas of seborrhea daily for two weeks, and then three times a week until the condition is stable.5

Where to Find It

Borage oil is found primarily in supplements. Its presumed active ingredient, GLA, can also be found in black currant seed oil and evening primrose oil supplements. However, it is not known whether the effects of these three oils in the body, are the same.

Possible Deficiencies

Many people in Western societies may be at least partially GLA-deficient as a result of aging, glucose intolerance, dietary fat intake, and other problems, though the exact incidence of deficiency remains unknown. People with deficiencies benefit from supplemental GLA intake from borage oil, black currant seed oil, or evening primrose oil.

Those with premenstrual syndrome,6 diabetes,7 scleroderma,8 Sjogren’s syndrome,9 tardive dyskinesia,10 eczema,11 and other skin conditions12 may have a metabolic block that interferes with the body’s ability to make GLA. However, most clinical trials supplementing GLA for these conditions has used evening primrose oil, and not borage oil.


Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.

Interactions with Medicines

As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.

Side Effects

Side Effects

Borageseeds contain small amounts of liver toxins called pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA). However, testing has not demonstrated the presence of the alkaloid in the seed oil.13 Most commercially available borage seed oil is, therefore, likely to be PA-free and presents no risk of PA toxicity. Minor side effects from borage oil use can include bloating, nausea, indigestion, and headache.14


1. Wren RC. Potter's New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations. Essex, England: C.W. Daniel and Co., 1988, 41.

2. Leventhal LJ, Boyce EG, Zurier RB. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with gammalinolenic acid. Ann Intern Med 1993;119:867-73.

3. Zurier RB, Rossetti RG, Jacobson EW, et al. Gamma-linolenic acid treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum 1996;39:1808-17.

4. Landi G. Oral administration of borage oil in atopic dermatitis. J Appl Cosmetology 1993;11:115-20.

5. Tollesson A, Frithz A. Borage oil, an effective new treatment for infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Br J Dermatol 1993;129:95 [letter].

6. Horrobin DF, Manku M, Brush M, et al. Abnormalities in plasma essential fatty acid levels in women with pre-menstrual syndrome and with non-malignant breast disease. J Nutr Med 1991;2:259-64.

7. Keen H, Payan J, Allawi J, et al. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy with gamma-linolenic acid. Diabetes Care 1993;16:8-15.

8. Horrobin DF. Essential fatty acid metabolism in diseases of connective tissue with special reference to scleroderma and to Sjogren's syndrome. Med Hypotheses 1984;14:233-47.

9. Horrobin DF, Campbell A. Sjogren's syndrome and the sicca syndrome: the role of prostaglandin E1 deficiency. Treatment with essential fatty acids and vitamin C. Med Hypotheses 1980;6:225-32.

10. Vaddadi KS, Gilleard CJ. Essential fatty acids, tardive dyskinesia, and schizophrenia. In Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids: Pathophysiology and Roles in Clinical Medicine. Horrobin DF (ed). New York: Alan R Liss, 1990, 333-43.

11. Manku MS, Horrobin DF, Morse NL, et al. Essential fatty acids in the plasma phospholipids of patients with atopic eczema. Br J Dermatol 1984;110:643-8.

12. Horrobin DF. Essential fatty acids in clinical dermatology. J Am Acad Dermatol 1989;20:1045-53.

13. Parvais O, Vander Stricht B, Vanhaelen-Fastré R,Vanhaelen M. TLC detection of pyrrolizidine alkaloids in oil extracted from the seeds of Borago officinalis. J Planar Chromatography 1994;7:80-2.

14. Awang DVC. Borage. Can Pharm J 1990;123:121-3.