Starflower Oil Benefits for Anti-Aging Skin Care
Starflower oil, also referred to as borage oil or borage seed oil, is derived from the seeds of the borage plant (Borago officinalis). The oil's name comes from the borage plant's purple star-shaped flowers. Used for a variety of medicinal purposes, the oil is also a little-known secret for keeping your skin healthy and young. It can be applied topically or taken internally for similar results. Starflower oil is reputed as the ultimate skin hydrator and moisturizer, and it is often employed for the treatment of eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions. The oil restores moisture and smoothness to dry, damaged skin. It may also help reduce the onset of skin aging if used as part of an overall anti-aging skincare routine.
The borage plant, sometimes called starflower, is a wildflower and medicinal herb that grows natively in temperate regions around the world. The plant produces attractive blue to purple star-shaped flowers on fuzzy stems. Borage seeds are most prized, however, because they contain the plant's healing oil. In fact, the oil is the richest known source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid that helps protect and moisturize the skin.
Scientists and researchers believe that starflower oil helps restore the moisture barrier of the skin, whether it has been damaged by environmental factors, or if dryness is caused by genetics or a skin disorder. In one clinical trial, patients were treated with a topical cream containing starflower oil for a period of two weeks. The results of the trial indicated that the oil is effective at restoring smoothness and moisture to skin. Additional research promotes internal use of the oil for keeping skin smooth, moisturized and supple.
The body produces GLA from linolenic acid, another essential fatty acid found in various foods. Nuts, seeds and some unrefined vegetable oils all contain linolenic acid. The acid is converted to GLA by enzymes present in a healthy person's body, and in turn, the GLA is converted to a hormone-like substance known as prostaglandin E1 (PGE1). This substance acts as an anti-inflammatory agent within the body, making it useful for treating inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
Starflower oil is unique because it provides a direct source of GLA, and the body does not have to create the substance from linolenic acid. This essentially cuts out the hard work that would normally be performed by your body. As you age, your body become less efficient in converting linolenic acid to GLA, which is another reason this oil is so beneficial to older people and those concerned about the effects of aging. Obtaining this fatty acid directly by taking starflower oil is a surefire way to reduce the chance of developing inflammatory conditions associated with aging, such as arthritis.
GLA is essential to healthy skin, and deficiencies of the acid have been found in individuals suffering from skin disorders. Scientific research has found that people with skin problems characterized by dry skin and inflammation have an increased level of linolenic acid and a decreased level of GLA. This is likely because the body has a difficult time converting the linolenic acid, or something is blocking the conversion process. As a result, the body has less PGE1, which causes inflammatory skin conditions, dry skin, aged skin and increased moisture loss.
Supplementing the diet with starflower oil, or applying the oil topically to the skin may help improve many skin problems. Researchers have found that even serious skin conditions may be reduced by starflower oil's ability to reduce inflammation and promote moisture retention. A study published in 2009 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that individuals taking borage oil internally for 12 weeks experienced a significant decrease in skin reddening, roughness and scaling, and an increase in skin hydration. Similar results have been reported by other clinical trials.
Purchasing and Taking Starflower Oil
Although starflower oil is very useful for individuals with aging skin and inflammatory conditions, almost anyone can benefit from supplemental GLA. Look for starflower oil in your local health food store, where it is also marketed as borage or borage seed oil. You can also order the oil online from reputable retailers.
For the best results, moisturize and heal your skin from the inside out by sprinkling borage oil onto your favorite foods, adding it salad dressings or mixing it into smoothies. If you don't like the taste of the oil, simply purchase it in capsule form and take according to the manufacturer's ingredients. Whatever you do, never heat starflower oil, as this changes its composition, making it a poor source of GLA.
If you have a skin condition or just want to protect your skin against the effects of aging, you can rub the oil directly into your skin once or twice daily. If you decide to take starflower oil internally, consult your doctor first just to be safe. You should always talk to a qualified physician before you begin taking any new herbal supplement.