What are the Most Common Borage Oil Side Effects?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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Borage oil is obtained from the seeds of the borage plant. This leafy, mellow-smelling plant has blue, star-shaped flowers, which have earned the plant its nickname of starflower. The borage plant has been used in folk medicine to cure many ailments, including rheumatoid arthritis, skin disorders, and respiratory infections. Although they are usually rare, common borage oil side effects include mild gastrointestinal complications and thinning of the blood. More serious side effects of borage oil include liver damage and premature labor in pregnant women.

Mild stomach and bowel problems are very common side effects of borage oil. Diarrhea and constipation have been reported, along with gas, bloating, indigestion, and nausea. These side effects are typically mild, and most of the time they will subside after the body has adjusted to the borage oil supplement.

Borage oil is reported to have mild blood-thinning properties. This can be amplified when taken in conjunction with other medications that thin the blood. Patients with bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, should use extreme caution when using borage oil supplements, or avoid it altogether. Because it can prolong bleeding and effect the clotting properties of the blood, experts say that a borage oil regimen should be stopped at least two weeks before surgery.


One of the more serious borage oil side effects is possible liver damage. This plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PA). These alkaloids are hepatoxic, or damaging to the liver. Taking borage oil in high doses for a prolonged period of time can make liver damage worse. When purchased in a store, borage oil supplements are almost always free of these harmful alkaloids. To be on the safe side though, consumers should look for labels on borage oil tablets that verify they are PA-free.

Pregnant women and their unborn fetuses can also fall victim to one of the more dangerous of the borage oil side effects. Most experts agree that pregnant women should avoid this supplement altogether. The omega-6 fatty acid that aids in certain ailments, Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), may also cause an increase in the production of prostaglandin E. This compound can stimulate premature labor in some pregnant women.

As with any other dietary supplements, consulting a medical professional is important before starting a regimen of borage oil. A licensed physician will typically be aware of borage oil side effects. The active ingredients could make existing medical conditions worse, and it could possibly cause dangerous interactions with other medications. Borage oil should also be taken at the recommended dosage. More than 2.5 teaspoons (12 grams) of this supplement per day can have certain health risks.


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Post 4

I have been taking Starflower Oil daily since aged 35 (I'm now 58). Due to ongoing medical conditions, I have regular blood tests, and there have been no indications that this supplement has affected my liver function. I sailed through the menopause, literally! My menopause lasted just two years and I firmly believe this was due to the Starflower Oil. The hot flashes and night sweats were few and far between and the associated mood swings didn't happen. Maybe I have been very lucky and the whole thing is a coincidence.

But I should add that on the couple of occasions when I have run out of it, I notice a change to the condition of my skin, particularly the

face. I've suffered from Hypothyroidism since 2008, which can make skin dry and flaky, and I have found another plus to taking Starflower Oil - it eases the dryness and flaking. From ages 35 - 47 I took 1000mg per day. On ceasing the menopause, I reduced to 500mg daily. Before taking any supplement, talk to your doctor or hospital consultant, as I did, just in case there are interactions with other drugs you may be taking. I got the go ahead and haven't looked back.
Post 3

@burcinc-- I've been taking borage oil for several months and so far I haven't had any liver problems. But I'm not sure if I would know if I did have liver damage. The only issues I had was bloating and indigestion for the first couple of days but then they went away.

There doesn't seem to be a consensus about borage oil and liver damage. Some people say that borage oil contains a toxin in it that's bad for the liver. Others say that if the supplement is from a reliable brand, it shouldn't have toxins. I'm as confused as you are. I plan on taking a break from borage oil for at least several months just in case.

Post 2

What are the chances of liver damage from taking 1000mg of borage oil daily for several months?

Has anyone actually experienced liver damage from this supplement?

Post 1

I once took borage oil a few hours apart from aspirin and developed a weird boil on my stomach. I looked up side effects of borage oil online after that and read about its blood-thinning effects.

Aspirin is also a blood-thinner. I shouldn't have taken them together, I'm glad nothing serious happened. I avoid all blood thinners like fish oil vitamins and aspirin when I'm on borage oil.

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