I love exploring the many different natural approaches when it comes to healing myself and my family which includes my beloved dogs.
Borage is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean region. It has been grown in a number of other climates and environments around the world, however, and now shows up in the form of a garden plant in North America.
It has edible leaves and is generally cultivated for borage seed oil, which comes from the seeds of the herb.
Borage is a self-seeding herb that blooms from spring to midsummer in most areas. It is often used in what is called companion planting, which protects and even nurses other plants in a garden like legumes, spinach and strawberries. It has also been cited as enhancing the growth of tomatoes because of its protective properties.
Borage has been traditionally used in medical applications for centuries. It stimulates milk production, works as an astringent and serves as an adrenal stimulant. Borage is also used to calm the nerves and can be used as a diuretic.
The most common application for borage is the borage seed oil, as mentioned. This is extracted from the seeds. The leaves can also be dried for infusions or even in bulk form for powder which can be added to your dog’s food. If you are drying and powdering borage leaves, you should do this quickly because they can lose their medicinal properties in a hurry.
- Borage has been used to improve adrenal function, especially for dogs who’ve undergone considerable steroid therapy. It isn’t as powerful a treatment as licorice, which is a stronger treatment of course, but it can help stimulate slightly depressed adrenal functions.
- Borage has a reputation for increasing milk production in nursing mothers of multiple species, including humans and dogs, and has been used in a therapeutic sense for hundreds of years. The suggestion here is that using borage during pregnancy stimulates the adrenal glands and, as such, the milk comes as a result of increased hormone production.
- Borage can also be applied topically as a poultice or compress for minor skin irritations. It isn’t as effective as comfrey, another popular topical treatment, but it does have a mild effect that can be quite helpful for some dogs. When making the poultice, scrape off the “prickly hairs” first. You can also steam the whole leaves and use them as a warm cover for sore muscles and minor skin irritations.
Borage is generally quite safe for consumption, although there is a high amount of PAs included that may lead to liver damage. The PAs, a potentially toxic compound, are presented in a very low form and are generally believed to be harmless, but you should be aware of them nevertheless. Animals would need to ingest a large quantity in order to see any negative effects.
Reasons to Use
Borage is pretty easy to use and generally safe, but it’s not as powerful or effective as comfrey in terms of topical applications. In other situations that call for a remedy for depressed adrenal function, I would recommend something along the lines of licorice instead.
References: Herbs for Pets by M.L. Wulff-Tilford and G.L. Tilford, Natural Remedies for Dogs and Cats by CJ Puotinen