Hand-colored scanning electron micrograph (SEM) showing the pistil of a Borago (Borago officinalis) created by Martin Oeggerli.
Paracelsus coined the famous dictum, “What is there that is not poison? All things are poison and nothing is without poison. Solely the dose determines that a thing is not a poison,” and it is quite like that with the Borago:
Borago leaves are edible and the plant is grown in gardens for that purpose in some parts of Europe (Germany, Poland, Crete, Spain, Italy, and UK). The plant is also commercially cultivated for borage seed oil extracted from its seeds. Although often used in soups, one of the better known borage recipes is the Green Sauce (Grüne Soße) made in Frankfurt, Germany. In the Italian region of Liguria, borage is commonly used as a filling of the traditional pasta ravioli and pansoti. It is also used to flavour pickled gherkins in Poland. In the UK, Borago is traditionally used as a garnish in the Pimms Cup cocktail, but is nowadays often replaced by a long sliver of cucumber peel or by mint. It is also one of the key botanicals in Gilpin’s Westmorland Extra Dry Gin.
Traditionally, Borago officinalis has been used in hyperactive gastrointestinal, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, such as gastrointestinal (colic, cramps, diarrhea), airways (asthma, bronchitis), cardiovascular, (cardiotonic, antihypertensive and blood purifier), urinary (diuretic and kidney/bladder disorders). It can also be used to inhibit amoebical activity.
The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, some of which are hepatotoxic, mutagenic and even carcinogenic due to the content of liver-toxic Pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the leaves (small amounts; 2-10 ppm of dried herb).
Flower & Artwork:
Borago flowers are most often blue, although pink flowers are sometimes observed, and white flowers have also been bread successfully.