In days of old, borage was sometimes added to a drink and given to prospective husbands to give them the courage to propose marriage and it’s reputation for invoking courage goes back a long way. It was also used to “cheer the heart and lift the depressed spirits”… “for the comfort of the heart, to drive away sorrow and increase the joy of the minde”. (A Modern Herbal Now – that’s quite the reputation!)
Herbalists today believe borage to be a diuretic, demulcent and emollient.
Infusions and decoctions are taken to relieve fevers, bronchitis, diarrhea and other ailments. It cleanses the blood, promotes perspiration and is used in cases of arthritis and infections of the respiratory tract. Poultices made from the leaves are cooling and soothing to external inflammations and swellings. It also can be used cosmetically to refresh tired skin.
Borage contains tannin, mucilage, saponin, malic acid and potassium nitrate. These constituents account for the usefulness of the herb.
Borage is an annual, self seeding plant that has many leafy branches of hollow stems covered with stiff, white hairs. It grows up to about 32″ tall in a rounded shape and flowers with small blue, star-shaped corolla. It is native to Europe, Asia Minor and Africa. It was naturalized in Great Britain and is widely cultivated in North America.
The fresh herb has a cucumber-like fragrance. When steeped in water, it imparts a coolness to it and a faint cucumber flavour, and compounded with lemon and sugar in wine, and water, it makes a refreshing and restorative summer drink. The flowers are used in salads.