Borage oil is known for its high gamma linoleic acid (GLA) content. It’s thought that this fatty acid can help reduce inflammation.
You may have also heard that the borage oil is good for hangovers, but aren’t sure if it’s true or not.
Well, you’re not alone. With so many hangover cure myths out there, it’s hard to separate the health facts from the fads.
In this article, we’re first going to take a closer look at borage oils’ perceived health benefits. Then we’re going to see whether it works as a hangover cure.
Benefits of Borage oil
Borage oil is an extract made from the seeds of the Borago officinalis plant which is also known as the starflower plant because of its distinctive petal formation.
GLA is considered the primary “active” ingredient in Borage oil. You can also find GLA in other oils, such as evening primrose and black currant.
The GLA in Borage oil is hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties. Various studies have shown it has a mild, but respectable effect on reducing inflammation. That’s why it’s mainly been researched in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.(1)
So, can the anti-inflammatory properties of borage oil help hangovers as well?
That’s what we’ll focus on next.
Is Borage oil good for hangovers?
Before we look at whether borage oil is good for hangovers or not, we first need to go over what the causes of a hangover are. After all, there’s no way of knowing if something is likely to work without knowing what root of the problem.
The science of hangovers is complicated and there’s still debate around what the exact causes are. With that said, there are a few generally accepted reasons why drinking too much alcohol causes hangovers.
Sleep disturbance: Sleep quality is significantly reduced if you’ve got alcohol in your system. The reason is, alcohol blocks you from reaching the REM stage of sleep which is required to feel properly rested.
Inflammation: Toxic by-products are formed when alcohol is metabolized in your body. These by-products are quickly neutralized before they cause damage. However, if drinking in excess, the enzymes and antioxidants which neutralize the harmful by-products are depleted.
Dehydration: alcohol causes dehydration as it blocks the release of a hormone called ADH. This hormone is responsible for water regulation and, therefore, your kidneys flush out fluids.
In summary, there are several different “causes” of a hangover. Clearly, dehydration and sleep will be unaffected by taking borage oil. Seeing as inflammation is one of the causes of a hangover, borage oil is seen as a potential hangover remedy because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Next up, we’ll take a look at the research to see if this theory has been proven.
What does the research say?
At the time of writing, there are a couple of studies that have looked into borage for hangovers.
One was from an unpublished report saying that taking borage reduced hangover symptoms. Therefore, this should only be regarded as anecdotal evidence.(2)
Another study looked at the benefit of taking a product called “after-effect” which contained borage amongst other ingredients. The study said that out of 103 people who took this supplement, 88% reported reduced hangover symptoms.
With that said, this study comes with a few problems. Firstly, it’s published by the manufacturer of the product. Also, it contained milk thistle, prickly pear, and a selection of vitamins as well. So, who knows which ingredient had this effect.(3)
In summary: There are no good research studies that have shown borage to be effective for treating hangover symptoms.
Is Borage oil a hangover cure?
Whether borage works as a hangover remedy is not clear. However, one thing is for certain. Borage oil is definitely not a hangover cure.
In fact, a hangover cure doesn’t exist and is unlikely to ever do so. That’s because alcohol causes damage in many different ways.
Are there any side effects?
Borage oil is generally regarded as “safe to take” in small doses and for short periods of time.
However, large doses and regular consumption can lead to problems such as affecting liver function and clotting issues.(4)
As with any supplement, it’s best to discuss with your doctor before taking them. Especially if you are already taking prescribed medication because they could interact.
Anything else to consider?
Hangovers are a sign from your body that you’ve been drinking too much alcohol, too quickly. Trying to “cure” or “prevent” your hangovers with borage (or anything else) is not the ideal approach.
The best way to cure a hangover is to prevent one from happening in the first place. Drinking plenty of water, eating before going out, and most importantly, drinking less is all that you need to do.
Borage oil for hangovers – Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look into borage oil as a hangover cure and remedy.
The active ingredient is GLA which is found in several other plant types.
Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to say that borage oil is good for hangovers or not.