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The Courageous Borage


AKA: Borago officinalis F. Latin; Boraginaceae, burrage, common bugloss, beebread, bee fodder, star flower, ox's tongue, and cool tankard. It is a relative of Comfrey and the Forget-Me-Not.


Propagation/Description: Borago gives its name to the Boraginaceae, a family that includes the forget-me-nots (Myosotis), lungworts (Pulmonaria) and comfreys (Symphytum). The origin of the generic name is disputed but may be derived from the Latin for a shaggy coat (burra), a reference to the stiff, white hairs covering most parts of the plant. Borage is an annual that can reach 2-3 feet tall and can be grown easily from seeds. It needs full sun with moist but well drained soil. Both flowers and leaves can be harvested and used at any time but have the most flavor when consumed fresh. The leaves are slightly fuzzy and the sky-blue flowers hang in drooping clusters and the leaves a gray-green color on circular and hollow stems. It tastes very similar to cucumber.

Folklore/History: Native to eastern Mediterranean regions, Greek and Roman physicians alike used this plant for medicinal purposes recorded back to the first century AD. It was used as a euphorosiunum or bringing a feeling of euphoria (according to Pliny the Elder). The Welsh called it Ilanwenlys which means herb of gladness. Once considered so sacred that Druids consecrated their weapons with the starflower petals before battle. Some folklore suggested that a woman hoping to elicit a positive response from a cautious suitor might slip borage into his wine to encourage him to pop the question. John Gerard’s Herbal, largely a 1597 translation of a 1554 said, “those of our time do use the flowers in salad to exhilarate and make the mind glad. There be also many things made of these used everywhere for the comfort of the heart, for the driving away of sorrow and increasing the joy of the mind. The leaves and flowers… put into wine make men and women glad and merry and drive away all sadness, dullness and melancholy as Dioscorides and Pliny affirm. Syrup made of the flower of borage comfort the heart, purge melancholy and quiet the frantic and lunatic person.” The Celtic word borrach means ‘courage’.

Medicinal: The seeds are a healthy source of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and Omega-6 fatty acid but would take consumption of a considerable amount of them to use for a regular supplemental use. The entire plant is beneficial in regulating hormone issues and the metabolic system. It has a calming effect and aids in stress relief by helping to balance cortisol levels in the body. It is antioxidant and has been used to help with IBS symptoms. It also can help with respiratory issues such as pneumonia and allergies. It has been known to help with UTI’s and kidney infections as well as hypertension, fevers, arthritis and gout, skin infections, and bleeding gums due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The leaves are high in good carbohydrates, protein, fiber, Monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats and potassium. A syrup with Borage was found, in a recent study in 2022, to help with all symptoms resulting from Covid 19 and shortening ICU stays significantly.


*** Borage oil should be used cautiously in people with epilepsy. ***

Spiritual: Courage, honesty, psychic power, peace, calm, self-love, protection and strength. Float the flowers in a ritual bath to raise one's spirits. Carry or burn as incense to increase courage and strength of character. Sprinkle an infusion of Borage around the house to ward off evil. Increase your psychic abilities by drinking borage tea. Keep borage flowers on the table when you do any kind of divination to help the reading. If drawn to Borage it may mean that you are intrepid and speak your mind. You are not afraid to laugh out loud and find joy in even the little things.

Summary: I recently have found myself in the mind set that I am perimenopausal or at least in the beginning stages. That said, this beautiful little flowered plant may be just the ticket for me to start addressing the challenges and changes going on in my body and mind. The universe had me pause and take extra time researching this plant this time. Usually, it flows and all the right information comes at the exact time I need it. Borage, like its properties, slow moving and deliberate, was a subject that took days for me to learn about. Looking back now I can see why. Between the changes in my body and the ever-changing living situation with my mother (who has Alzheimer’s), I needed to take the time to really focus and absorb the lessons Borage has for me. Courage to face the unknown, strength to continue my path, peace within myself on a daily basis, honesty to myself and others in facing my situation and staying calm and the self-love to know when I need help and have to set and abide by boundaries for myself. What has mother earth taught you today?


Bibliography:

· Herbal Handbook, 51 Profiles in Words and Art from the Rare Book and Folio Collections of The New York Botanical Garden, pgs 18-20.

· The Lost Book of Herbal Remedies, The Healing Power of Plant Medicine by Nicole Apelian, Ph.D & Claude Davis; Pgs 51-52

· Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham; Pg 64

· The Secret Language of Herbs by Alice Peck; pgs 66-67

· Hedgewitch’s Field Guide by Siolo Thompson; pgs 23-26

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