Nature’s Medicine Cabinet
Borage is good for bees and other wildlife. It’s also used in food and drink and in holistic healthcare for our animals and ourselves. We asked Caroline Hearn of Hedgerow Hounds to tell us more.
Hardy bee magnet
Borage (Borago officinalis) is also known as Star Flower. It has the most striking blue flowers, with five petals and a black-tipped cone in the centre.
Borage is easy to grow from seed and doesn’t require special treatment, being happy in poor soil and able to thrive with sun for part of the day. Gardeners often grow borage alongside their fruit and vegetables as it is such a bee magnet it will guarantee more pollinators visit the crops.
Traditionally used to stimulate milk production, borage also supports the adrenals, acts as a diuretic, stimulates mucous secretions of the respiratory system and has calming properties to the nervous system.
Food and drink
The beautiful flowers have a delicate cucumber flavour and are often used to decorate summer drinks such as Pimm’s or scattered on salads.
The young leaves can be eaten but as the plant matures the bristles that cover it become course and very unpalatable. In very sensitive individuals this can cause a contact dermatitis so if this is a risk it is advisable to wear gloves when in close contact.
Herbal use ~ rich in EFAs
More commonly the oil is extracted from the seeds as they contain impressive amounts of EFA (essential fatty acids). For example, Borage seed oil has twice the GLA (Gamma-linolenic acid) as evening primrose oil which is used to relieve premenstrual issues and menopause systems.
A deficiency of EFAs include various inflammatory disorders, eczema, dull hair and coat, itchy skin, excess shedding, and retinal disease.
Bees and other pollinators
If you can only grow one herb that supports pollinators, then Borage would be the one to choose and bees absolutely love it!
Borage is a generous source of nectar and pollen and each flower head refills with nectar within two minutes of it being emptied by a bee. A bee’s metabolism is very fast, and they must feed almost continuously in order to make enough energy to fly. They are often very close to starvation, so a plentiful and diverse range of flowers is essential for their survival.
Caroline Hearn, MICHT, Dip. ICAT, ISCP.Dip.Canine.Raw.Nutrition
Caroline is a sports, remedial and holistic massage therapist qualified to treat canine, equine, and human patients. She has a lifelong obsession with dogs, passion for holistic healthcare, natural nutrition and a love for foraging in the countryside; all of which lead her to form the company Hedgerow Hounds which makes veterinary-approved nutritive herbal blends for dogs and other natural healthcare products. She has recently developed Hedgerow Horse.
Caroline also writes regularly for the holistic magazine Edition Dog and covers subjects such as raw feeding, canine therapies and the progress of the herbal sensory garden she created for her dogs. You can find her website here and her Facebook page here
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