Borage is a plant that grows annually which originated in Syria, however it was adopted throughout the Mediterranean region, Europe, Great Britain, North Africa, North America, and Iran. It is an edible and ornamental plant belonging to the family Boraginaceae. It grows up to 2 feet in height. Its stem and leaves are covered with coarse, prickly hairs and it has clusters of star-shaped bright blue flowers. These flowers are attractive to bees and are borage is sometimes grown for honeybee feeding. Borage flowers can also be lavender or purple in color, making the plant beautiful in appearance and hence used ornamentally too. The flowers blossom mostly during spring and summer months. In earlier times, the consumption of borage was expected to instill bravery and happiness in people. Hence, Celtic warriors in an effort to increase courage drank borage wine before going into battle. So also, the knights of the medieval times were given a drink made of borage flowers before war to induce bravery. Also, borage flowers were at times secretly added to the drinks of men by women to encourage the male suitors to propose the women. Borage is a highly prized plant as all its parts are utilised- stalks, leaves, flowers, seeds for various purposes.
Borage leaves wilt soon after picking, so wrap them in moist tissues and put them in airtight containers so that they don't lose moisture and wilt more. To use the fresh flowers, remove the thorny backside and also watch out for bees. Rinse the flowers gently and pat them dry and use.
Borage contains harmful compounds like pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) when taken orally. These can damage the liver or cause cancer, especially when taken in high doses or for a long time. Borage seed oil might increase bleeding time leading to a higher risk of bruising and bleeding especially in people with bleeding disorders. Borage products which contain hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA) may worsen liver disease.(2)
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