S is for Starflower (Borage)

Starflower is a common name for borage, a Mediterranean plant that grows happily almost everywhere, including on the coast of British Columbia. Bees and hummingbirds love to visit its blue star-shaped flowers, which are edible and have a delicate honey flavour. Their most unique feature, however, is that the seeds of this pretty plant contain a massive amount of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid).

GLA in Borage Oil

Borage oil is made by cold-pressing the tiny seeds from the plant, and contains up to 26% GLA – making it the richest known natural source of this non-essential fatty acid. When a fatty-acid is “non-essential”, it means that our bodies make it naturally when conditions are right; on the other hand, essential fatty acids (like Omega 3 and 6) need to come from our diet. No matter their name, fatty acids are necessary for biological, structural, and functional health. This includes the health of our skin.

As a non-essential fatty acid, our bodies make GLA from the abundant linoleic acid in our diet. Unfortunately, GLA deficiency can occur when the enzyme needed for the process is impaired, or for reasons such as age, viral infection, diabetes, and other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Since we need GLA to stimulate cell growth and manage inflammation, it’s not a surprise that a deficiency can manifest as dry and overly sensitive skin.

Borage Oil’s Skin Benefits

Even if you aren’t deficient in GLA, your skin can benefit from starflower oil’s anti-inflammatory and protective properties. Inflammation is a common culprit when it comes to sensitive skin, acne, and irritating conditions like eczema and atopic dermatitis. Too often, we seek to treat the symptoms (ie dryness) of skin conditions rather than the cause (such as inflammation). This may offer temporary relief, but the condition keeps coming back.

This is why my goal when dealing with troubled skin is to treat the cause. While the skin is inflamed, it is in “fight” mode, angry and unbalanced. By reducing inflammation, irritating symptoms will lessen; but more importantly, the skin becomes more receptive to healing. My Calming Skincare line is dedicated to these two goals: reducing inflammation, then healing the skin with the gentlest ingredients possible.

Borage oil is in both the Shea & Starflower Calming Moisturizer and Rosehip & Calendula Calming Facial Oil, from my Calming Collection. Specially created for very sensitive and reactive skin, the high levels of GLA in borage oil lessens inflammation while maintaining the skin’s moisture. Finally, there is relief for those suffering from itchy, dry skin.

Fun Facts About Starflower

As a nature lover, I can’t get enough about the history and uses of all the plants and flowers; and with its thousand years’ history as a medicinal herb, starflower doesn’t disappoint! I’ll leave you with a few of my favourite facts:

  • Other names for borage are ox-tongue, bee bread and tail-wort.

  • The flowers and leaves are edible, and were used in salads and fortified wines in ancient Greek and Celtic times, as well as in the Victorian era.

  • It was believed to give soldiers courage, to uplift the spirit, and comfort the heart.

  • Other medicinal uses have ranged from increasing lactation, calming digestive issues, and relieving dry coughs.

  • The plant has naturalized throughout North America and Great Britain, with Canada being a key producer of borage oil.

Relieve your dry, inflamed, or sensitive skin with my Shea & Starflower Calming Moisturizer. Or for a lighter moisturizer or night treatment, try starflower in my Rosehip & Calendula Calming Facial Oil. Can’t decide between the two? Sample the entire Calming Collection with the Calming Skincare Set.

Resources:

https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
https://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/borage-oil
https://www.indigo-herbs.co.uk/natural-health-guide/benefits/borage-starflower

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