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Borage Oil to Relieve Eczema Symptoms

S.J. Merens

The skin condition atopic dermatitis, commonly called eczema, is a chronic inflammatory disorder. Some people are able to relieve symptoms of eczema by taking borage oil supplements. You're most likely to have good results with this herbal remedy if your eczema is not severe.

Eczema symptoms range from red itchy rashes to blisters that crust over. You may experience times when your skin clears up and then the problem returns for no apparent reason. Scientists aren't sure why this happens, or even why people get eczema in the first place. Possible causes include a combination of genetics and environmental irritants, including allergens. The condition often doesn't respond well to various types of treatment.

Borage seed oil, also called starflower oil, is of interest for treating eczema because it contains a high level of the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Not all omega-6 fatty acids are alike. Some cause inflammation, especially when eaten in excessive amounts. That's typical in the standard North American diet with its heavy emphasis on corn, soy and canola oils. In contrast, GLA decreases inflammation in the body.

Essential fatty acids are necessary for proper skin structure, and a deficiency in these nutrients causes symptoms similar to that of eczema, according to a review of studies published in the July-August 2010 issue of the journal Nutrition. Some individuals with eczema have imbalances in their levels of essential fatty acids, although the body normally can make GLA from certain other omega-6 fatty acids. It's possible that eczema develops when an enzyme normally involved in the synthesis of GLA from another omega-6 fatty acid doesn't work as it should. While research results are conflicting, the authors conclude that borage oil supplements may be effective for certain individuals who have less severe cases of eczema.

If you'd like to try supplementing with borage oil to relieve eczema symptoms, a standard dose is 500 to 900 milligrams per day, divided into two or three doses. Buy borage oil that does not contain unsaturated pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or UPAs. These chemicals can be toxic if consumed on a regular basis. Borage oil may cause birth defects, so don't take it if you're expecting.


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