I, Courage: Borage

John Gerard, a popular herbalist of the 16th and 17th century (and becoming popular again on Facebook), provides us with the translation of wonderful maxim of Borage which was said to be recited by Roman soldiers preparing for contests of strength:

Ego borago gaudia semper ago. I, Borage, always bring courage.

The blue flower of the courageous Borage was embroidered onto the clothing on knights going off to battle to protect them and strengthen their resolve and worn in buttonholes to the same effect.  Spike the tea of the one who you wish to propose to you with Borage to infuse them with the courage to finally ask.  Known also as  Cool-tankard, the flowers were used in drinks for their cooling effect before ice was a widely available and used commodity.  A tea will induce psychic powers as well as improve one's outlook in life.

Borage can be, in many ways, the "shining armor" we need to assume our warriorhood, reclaim our lives, and our sense of self.  For those who are suffering nervous exhaustion, especially "menopausal women who are overworked and totally exhausted," but any person who seems to be suffering from adrenal burnout and is emotionally spent will benefit from Borage.(1)  Borage has an uplifting and lightening affect that is a wonderful remedy for despondency and those who might say often, "I just can't take it anymore" but aren't entirely sure who "I" is or what it is they can't take.  Borage is an  herbal ally that strengthens the will and the knowing of self, reinforcing crumbling boundary walls and infusing the spirit with the brilliant hope that comes from uninhibited courage.  

When the body is overworked, the mind muddled, and the emotions frantic, the steady drumbeat of Borage can help to restore an overwhelmed nervous system and rebuilding strained adrenals.  With its cooling mucilaginous abilities, Borage is helpful for overheated conditions such as fevers and infections, as well as asthma, general colds, and hot, dry coughs.  Borage keeps the sweat pores toned which protects against chills and fevers that try and settle in a wet, stagnant environment.  For the pregnancy, Borage ripens the cervix for labor and supports breastfeeding by increasing milk flow

Borage is of course useful for depression and I am especially fond of using it for depression that situates itself during transition periods: the postpartum periods, departures (such as leaving home or college or going off to war), and general life passages that require us to look honestly at who we are and what we are doing.  The shift that Borage is particularly good at triggering in persons of a melancholic persuasion is the ability to love what we are responsible and accountable to which may mean a reassessment of priorities to be able to come to that emotional space.

Externally, Borage is good for dry skin as well as rashes, eczema, varicose veins, and can be used as an eyewash for irritated and inflamed eyes.  The flowers are delicious and can be added to salads and drinking water.

(1)  Rosari Kingston, MNIHM as cited in Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2008. (2008): 146.

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