Indian borage

Scientific name:  Plectranthus amboinicus


Herbal and Medicinal Uses

    • Coughs and sore throats: The leaves are commonly used in India and other Southeast Asian countries to treat coughs. It is known to be an effective expectorant. The simplest method is to chew a leaf. You can also make tea by boiling the leaves in water (in the Caribbean, honey is added to the tea). You can also pound the leaves and mix them with little water.
    • Blocked nose: Rub the leaves, and inhale the vapor.
    • Burns, sores, insect bites and stings, and skin conditions such as eczema: Pound the leaves to a pulp, and then apply as poultice.
    • Dandruff: Wash hair with infusion of the leaves (which can also be used to rinse your clothes).

The tea made from Indian borage leaves is also used in many parts of the world, from the Caribbean to India, for treating:

    • Bronchitis
    • Asthma
    • Cold, flu, and other viral conditions
    • Indigestion, flatulence, stomach cramps
    • Insomnia
    • Pain (headaches, menstrual pain, rheumatoid pain)

In some parts of Indonesia, the herb is used in a soup given to new mothers to help improve lactation.

Culinary Uses

The strong flavour and aroma of the Indian borage leaves make them ideal for flavouring certain meats and fish by helping to mask their strong smell. The leaves may be used as a pot herb or to make stuffing and marinade. Of course, the herb has to be used sparingly so as not to overpower the flavour of the meat/fish.

It is used in many places around the world to add a punch to dishes:

    • Flavouring for meat and fish dishes, as mentioned earlier (Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean)
    • Seasoning for fish and mutton curries (Southeast Asia)
    • Condiment for sour soup (Vietnam)
    • Eaten raw with bread and butter, fried in batter, flavouring for beer and wine (India)
    • Salads (the Caribbean)
    • Principal flavouring used in the Cuban black bean soup, Frijoles Negros (Anonymous, HERBS AND SPICES Health benefits of Indian Borage, 2019)
Country of Origin

Indian Borage plant is native to Southern and Eastern Africa, from South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) and Swaziland to Angola and Mozambique and north to Kenya and Tanzania, where it grows in woodland or coastal bush, on rocky slopes and loamy or sandy flats at low elevations (Anonymous, HERBS AND SPICES Health benefits of Indian Borage, 2019).

Time to harvest

Borage (Borago officinalis) is an easy-to-grow, blue-flowering herb that can be used for culinary and decorative purposes. Borage sprouts from seeds in 5 to 15 days and reaches maturity in about 8 weeks. Plants grow to between 24 to 36 inches in height and reach up to 20 inches in width. Borage is an annual plant that self-seeds easily in the garden (Silva, 2019).

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