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Borage as a Plant Teacher

Updated: Oct 9, 2021



Borago officinalis

Borage denotes the latin term Borrago (Arabian origin meaning 'father of sweat' or 'father of toughness'.

Common Names

Starflower : referring to its appearance

Cool Tankard : meaning a cool, tall, beer mug

Herb of Gladness

Burra: Latin for wool

Barrach: Celtic for man of courage




Borage is a herbal medicine used since ancient times. You may be familiar with the folk-lore saying “I, Borage bring always courage,” which speaks to its application for a run down character, in need of great courage to face the stress & responsibilities they carry. 
“It comforts the heart, cheers melancholy and revives the fainting spirit” (Salmon’s Household Companion, 1710). In ancient times, Borage was drunk as an ale to ‘revive the hypochondriac and cheer the hard student’ (Evelyn’s Acetaria). It is mentioned as one of the four cordial flowers in Salmon’s Household Companion of 1710, giving the cup a refreshing & peculiar flavour which cannot be imitated. Nowadays, it is frequently used in British herbalism, and not so much in the Southern Hemisphere herbalism. Did we forget about our starflower? The properties of borage are still somewhat unknown, so a lot of the following information is gathered from modern day traditional herbalists and their use of the plant medicine as a natural healer.

Distribution & Physiology

Borage is an annual herb (meaning it drops seed and respawns each year), with delicious honey bearing flowers. It likes ordinary soil, that is not too wet or clay ridden. And will grow to 1.5 feet tall, sprawling a square metre. It is closely related to comfrey, with roots as a Mediterranean European herb now cultivated in North America.

Boraginaceae : Borage family : forget me not family

Borage can be identified by its rough & hairy skin, with flat teardrop shaped burrs that stick to your clothes. The black anthers stick out from the middle of the flower. The flowers curl like a scorpion tail, a Bi-sexual. With 2000 species in this family, the Boraginaceae are generally used with some good success externally as a wound poultice, as an astringent to heal open tissue lesions, or internally as mild mucilaginous emollients (which means to soften the skin, or soothe a temper). Many of the borages have mildly toxic alkaloids in them, so they are not advised for sustained use.

Doctrine of Signatures

The energetic architecture of the universe is a language communicating the individuated being within the cosmic Self. When it comes to herbal medicine, over the lifetimes, an association between the valid knowledge of the natural world has been interpreted by our ancestors into a translation of its use. It is a way to "acquaint all sorts of people with the very Pith and Marrow of Herbarism” (William Coles). The way that a plant looks can tell us about the disease or organ or even type of person it is a medicine for. “The idea is that the shape, colour, appearance, environmental niche, taste, smell, etc., of a plant or medicinal agent will display the tell-tale signs, marks, or configurations indicating how that agent may be used in medicine.” (Matthew Wood). Borage’s doctrine is that of the 5 sided blue/purple star flower opening side ways, and turning downwards, courage for the downcast heart. Five petals opens the head and limbs. A star from the heavens (the flower) endowing grace into the roughness of life (the leaf). Borage is suggested to be for the heart, for qualms, and for faintness. Blue is the colour of an antispasmodic (to relieve tension). The large leaves suggests it works with the lungs or skin, a large surface. The fine hairs on the leaves resemble the hair like tissues of the mucosa of the lung or intestines.

Planetary Influences

Under the influence of Venus - cooling, emotional healer


Cooling & moist.

Sweet & salty.

For the Atrophy or Stagnation tissue states (bringing moisture.

Meridian / organ systems: Nervous system & the Kidneys, Gallbladder

Taste is mildly like a fresh cucumber.


Borage is “A masculine herb, working with the air element, mental powers/wisdom/psychic powers/vision. Carry fresh blossoms to strengthen your courage, or place one in your buttonhole for protection when walking outdoors. A tea of borage induces psychic powers” (Scott Cunningham).


Leaves, flowers & seeds are high (30%) in gamma-linolenic acid (anti-inflammatory)
 which sit he richest known source. Also essential oil (same as cucumber), potassium, calcium, saline mucilage, vitamin A, B, C, silica, iron, magnesium, resin and tannins.