Starflower is a traditional name for borage, an annual herb native to the Mediterranean but naturalised in many other areas. The leaves are edible, so starflower is grown for that reason in some European gardens, but it is also cultivated for the oil extracted from the seeds.
This oil, which comprises approximately one third of the seed, contains the richest known source of the anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), as well as other fatty acids known to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and therefore to be beneficial to the cardiovascular system. It also supplies a chemical called nervonic acid which is an important nutrient required for the growth and continuing health of the brain.
Starflower has been around for at least two millennia, and the Roman botanist Pliny the Elder believed that Homer's nepenthe (a remedy for sorrow) may actually have been borage, while one 16th century English herbalist also believed the leaves and flowers to have an antidepressant activity.
Borage has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory in cardiovascular, respiratory and gastro-intestinal tract disorders, such as hypertension, bronchitis, asthma and diarrhoea), and it may have the capacity to diminish symptoms such as hot flushes associated with menopause.