Borage self-seeds freely and flourishes in rich, well-drained soil in full sun. It is a good companion herb in the cottage garden, attracting honey bees and imparting strength and insect resistance to nearby plants, particularly strawberry and tomato.
Borage’s culinary and medicinal uses have been known for at least 2000 years. Borage is a cooling, cleansing, and refreshing herb with adaptogenic, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The entire plant contains mucilage, tannin, essential oil, potassium, calcium, pyrrolizioline alkaloids, saponins, and vitamin C, as well as a high amount of mineral salts. The leaves have been used as an adrenal tonic to balance and restore the health of the adrenal glands following periods of stress. A tea made from the leaves and blossoms will also promote lactation, relieve fevers, and promote sweating, The soothing mucilage in borage makes it a beneficial treatment for dry cough and throat irritation. Borage tea is also a good remedy to use with such digestive disturbances as gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome. European herbalists use borage tea to restore strength during convalescence. It may be of particular benefit during recovery from surgery or following steroid treatment. Borage tea is also helpful in clearing up such skin problems as boils and rashes, and has been used as an eyewash.
About a dozen clinical tests of the medicinal applications of borage in human subjects have been conducted since 1989. In addition, some researchers are now testing the effects of borage on skin cells in animal studies.