What is borax?
Borax's healing and preventative properties
Borax as a remedy
Where to get borax
What is borax?
Borax (sodium tetraborate hexahydrate or sodium borate) is a naturally-occurring mineral composed of sodium, boron, oxygen and water. It has been used as a remedy for over 4000 years. Most commercially-produced borax is mined from deposits produced by the repeated evaporation of seasonal lakes. It is found in large quantities in the Western United States, in Mediterranean countries, Kazakhstan, and the Tibet region of China. Turkey is one of the largest commercial producers of borates.
Soil. It is the organic matter in a healthy soil that holds the boron. If there is insufficient organic content in a soil, any boron will quickly leach away. Adding soluble nitrogen fertilisers to soils causes them to lose their carbon (organic) content. This means that conventional chemical farming does enormous damage to soil structure by removing the organic carbon content. Most of the minerals in the soil are gradually depleted, but the most severe effect is on the boron content of the soil which rapidly depletes. Unfortunately it is not possible to spray boron compounds back onto the soil, because they are deadly to ants and some other insects. The best way to restore boron in soil is to add it to compost, and then add the fermented compost back to the soil. This means that most non-organic farms around the world today are severely deficient in boron.
Most people only get between 1.7 and 7 mg of boron per day, mainly from fruits, nuts, legumes and vegetables. This level represents a severe deficiency, with the deficiency being worse for people living in those areas where there is little or no boron in the soil. All conventionally-grown fruit and vegetables are low in boron. An apple grown in a chemically fertilised orchard may contain less than 1 mg of boron. In contrast, an organic apple grown in boron-rich soils may have 20 mg of boron. The traditional French diet provides about 36 mg of boron per day, and most other traditional diets using organic (no chemical fertiliser) fruits and vegetables would deliver a similar amount of boron.
Boron tends to concentrate in the bone, tooth enamel, nails, spleen and parathyroid gland. It is quickly and easily excreted, primarily through the urine. This means a regular dietary source of boron is required, as few reserves are held in the body to cover periods of deficient boron intake.
Borax contains about 11% boron by weight.
Borax's healing and preventative properties
Borax is a potent and effective remedy that deserves to be widely used, and should be in every home. It is so cheap and effective that pharmaceutical companies have done their utmost to discredit it. They have managed to get it completely banned in Europe. In America and Australia it is banned for therapeutic use, but is still available in the laundry section of supermarkets. However in countries such as China, Japan, Turkey and Russia, where the big Western pharmaceutical companies do not have the same power to lobby (bribe, threaten and lie to) lawmakers and regulatory agencies, it is widely acknowledged and used. See What the law allows pharmaceutical companies to do.
A limited amount of boron is absolutely essential for good health. Here are some of its properties (at different concentrations):
- Protect's you from Fluorides. Borax protects against the accumulation of fluorides in the body; is effective as an antidote in fluoride toxicity; and can remove fluorides from the body. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 20)
- Anti-microbial. Borax is toxic to some insects such as ants, cockroaches and mites. It also prevents parasites, protozoa and bacteria. (23)
- Fungicide. Effective against moulds and fungi, internally and externally. (17, 18)
- Hormone normaliser. Stimulates the production of hormones, stabilises estrogen, assists with insulin use and blood glucose control, triglyceride use and production of reactive oxygen. With boron sufficiency, blood serum triglyceride levels are significantly lower. (12) Estrogen replacement therapy may not be necessary. (13, 16)
- Immune system enhancer. (12) Promotes healing of wounds. (14)
- Blood and fluid thinner. Boron helps fluids flow more freely in vessels, capillaries and gaps in joints. Blood flows more freely through fine capillaries, muscles and bones. See also natural blood thinners.
- Reduction and control of inflammation. (14, 16)
- Aphrodisiac for men and women. See low libido. Boron stimulates the production of DHT and testosterone (14, 16) and normalises oestrogen.
- Toxin removal. Chelator / protection from heavy metals. (8)
- Stabiliser of calcium, silicon, copper and magnesium levels, inhibits calcification. (12). Boron sufficiency normalises calcium levels, preventing both abnormal calcium deposition and bone weakness. (12, 13, 14) Boron sufficiency inhibits the accumulation of inorganic copper in the bones (12) and prevents loss of bone. (13) Boron assists with the assimilation of various minerals, particularly calcium and silicon. Those with insufficient boron in their diets may suffer a variety of bone, skin and connective tissue ailments. Insufficient body silicon is associated with rapid aging.
- Mental enhancement. Improves attention, both short and long term memory, perception, hand-eye coordination, and manual dexterity. (12, 14)
Borax is an excellent food preservative. (24) It has strong antifungal properties, killing yeasts in the food and preventing the proliferation of moulds and bacteria. It also increases the elasticity and crispiness of foods, and prevents foods such as shrimps and other seafood from darkening.
Borax and boric acid are safe and effective food preservatives. Boron is probably the most effective food fungicide available. In addition, it is able to combat aflatoxins in the body after they are ingested. (19)
Borax was safely used as a food preservative for many decades, and even longer in countries such as China and Turkey. In the mid-1920's many countries began legislating against the use of borax as a food preservative, though these restrictions were eased during World War II. In 1961 a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) found that boric acid and borax were not suitable for use as food additive, with certain exceptions such as in caviar in the European Union. These findings were based on false and flawed research, part of the pharmaceutical campaign against the use of borax as a natural remedy.
Borax as a remedy
Borax has successfully been used as a remedy for a variety of ailments. (7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16) You can use it for both prevention and treatment.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an inflammatory autoimmune disease where the body attacks its own joints, causing degeneration and deformity. It is more common in women, and can occur at any age. Often it develops into osteoarthritis. Work by Prof Roger Wyburn-Mason identified an amoeba in the joint as the cause in certain susceptible people. Boron is an effective cure. (14, 15)
- Osteoarthritis is a wearing away of the joints, particularly those that have been subject to trauma, infection or over-use when injured. It is more common in men. The cartilage or tough fibrous matter around the joint wears away and the bones rub against each other, causing pain and and further permanent damage to the joint. (14, 15)
- Osteoporosis (decalcification of the bones) or osteopenia. (12, 13, 14)
- Other bone and connective tissue diseases such as Dupuytren's disease.
- Blood lipid disorders, hypertension (high blood pressure), arterial diseases. (12, 14)
- Cancer. (6, 14, 19) Boron may be a preventative for prostate cancer.
- Swollen gums or loose teeth (pyorrhoea). This is a bit like arthritis of the teeth and gums.
- Antiseptic. Very effective for bladder infection and urinary tract infection (UTI). (17) For other infections apply topically or take internally diluted to the recommended dose.
- Spondylitis (arthritis of the spine with inflammation in the joints). Calcium is lost from the spinal vertebrae, leading to fusion and disc degeneration. Spondylitis responds to mineral treatments, particularly boron.
- Gout. Boron is an effective remedy.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus.
Where to get borax
In some countries such as Australia, New Zealand and the USA, you can buy borax in the laundry and cleaning section of your supermarket. Brand Names include 20 Mule Team (USA, Mexico), Hovex, Bare Essentials (Australia). Avoid any borax that has added ingredients or scent. You can also buy boron tablets online.
You may be concerned about the warnings on borax containers and some of what you read on the internet. However, borax's toxicity is about the same as sodium chloride (salt).
Please don't email me asking exactly which brand of borax to buy, where you can buy it, and whether it is safe. I am not selling borax and do not endorse any brand. It is up to you to do your own research. Remember that borax is mined, and all you want is the clean product the way it comes out of the ground, with no additives.
How to take Borax internally
Because of the hostility of the pharmaceutical industry, there is a scarcity of research on the effects of boron and how it affects metabolism. One paper concluded that humans need a minimum of 0.5 - 1.0 mg of boron per day to function properly. (12) An ongoing maintenance dose of 3 to 6 mg may be used for general good health and the prevention of ailments, especially if you live in an area where the soil is boron-deficient.
To make the borax concentrate, dissolve one level teaspoon of borax in one quart/litre of water.
To get a dose of 7 mg of boron per day, mix one teaspoonful of concentrate with water and take it twice daily with meals.
Take one teaspoon of concentrate with water per day for optimal health, if you have no specific problems.
For arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle cramps, joint pain or stiffness, or low hormone production take three teaspoons of concentrate with water per day for several months or longer until your ailment has sufficiently improved.
For fungal infections including candida, mycoplasmas, removing fluoride from the body. Take 15 to 25 teaspoons of the concentrated solution per day. Mix it with other drinks or food, and space it out over the whole day. This will provide a dose of about 50-85 mg of boron per day. Always start with a low dose and gradually increase it. Take regular breaks from the full dose, either taking the full dose 4 or 5 days per week as long as required, or going back down to the maintenance dose for one week each month.
When you consume borax it seems to work synergistically with magnesium, so keep your magnesium intake up whilst taking borax. See Magnesium.
In my ebook Grow Youthful there is more detail on how to use borax for a variety of specific ailments, and the wonderful outcomes you can expect.
How to use Borax externally
Saturate water with borax crystals (ie keep adding them to water until no more dissolve). Apply the borax solution to the problem areas on the skin, and surrounding hair.
Some people have found this borax remedy is more effective by adding 1% hydrogen peroxide to the above solution.
Apply the solution to the skin, and leave it on without rinsing. It tends to cause drying, so later you may want to apply a gentle skin oil.
Interestingly, dog mange is caused by demodex mites and the effective treatment is the above 1% hydrogen peroxide and borax saturated solution applied topically.
Borax is absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes. It is not a good idea to bathe in it unless a measured quantity is added to the bath, because large quantities can readily be taken up through your skin in a strong solution.
See how visitors to Grow Youthful have used borax to treat arthritis, for example. Contribute your own experience at Ailments & Remedies.
We only need very small quantities of boron for good health and to prevent diseases such as arthritis. In large quantities it has adverse effects, the same as any other compound.
Borax and boric acid have very low toxicity. Borax's LD50 (median lethal dose) score is 2.66 g/kg in rats, and boric acid is similar. (11) To put it in perspective, table salt is only slightly less toxic with an LD50 of 3.75 g/kg in rats according to the Merck Index.
Here is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for borax and for table salt (21), obtained from the same company. Compare the Toxicological Information and Health Hazard Data on the two sheets. You will see that table salt (sodium chloride) is 50-100% more toxic than borax! You will also see that the references they use to imply that borax has effects on fertility require absurdly high doses, and at those doses the studies are still not conclusive.
It is likely that toxicity symptoms will develop only after taking several grams (thousand mg) per day for several months. Signs of boron toxicity are diarrhoea, lethargy, nausea and vomiting. Eventually, also dermatitis and liver damage. Excess boron can worsen or trigger conditions like ADHD, allergies, asthma, autism, cystic fibrosis, dyslexia, liver and oesophageal cancer. Excessively high doses of boron tend to increase the blood levels of calcium and oestrogen, lower blood glucose, vitamin B6 and zinc.
1. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Alamir B, Benali S, Azzouz M, Khelfat K.
Boron as a preventive antidote in acute and subacute fluoride intoxication in rabbits: its action on fluoride and calcium-phosphorus metabolism.
Fluoride 13:129-138 (1980).
2. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Benali S, Azzouz M, Khelfat K, Tabet Aoul M. Boron as an antidote in acute fluoride intoxication in rabbits: its action on the fluoride and calcium-phosphorus metabolism. Fluoride 13:30-38 (1980).
3. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Azzouz M, Khelfat K, Hamrour M, Alamir B, Benali S, Reggabi M. Boron as antidote to fluoride: effect on bones and claws in subacute intoxication of rabbits. Fluoride 14:21-29 (1981).
4. Elsair J, Merad R, Denine R, Reggabi M, Benali S, Hamrour HM, Azzouz M, Khalfat K, Tabet Aoul M, Nauer J. Action of boron upon fluorosis: An experimental study. Fluoride 15:75-78 (1982).
5. Franke J, Runge H, Bech R, Wiedner W, Kramer W, Kochmann W, Hennig A, Ludke H, Seffner W, Teubner W, Franke M, Moritz W, Barthold L, Geinitz D. Boron as an antidote to fluorosis? Part I. Studies on the skeletal system. Fluoride 18: 187-197 (1985).
6. Hall, Iris et al. Ongoing research on boranes and other borax compounds, Division of medical chemistry, University of North Carolina.
7. Newnham, Rex. Away with Arthritis. 2nd edition printed 1993.
8. Turkez H., Geyikoglu F., Tatar A., Keles M.S., Kaplan I. The effects of some boron compounds against heavy metal toxicity in human blood. Exp Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Jan;64(1-2):93-101. Epub 20 Jul 2010.
9. Mary Duncan. Boron phenols and health : clues to the mysteries of ADD - Alzheimer's - Asthma. Carabooda, W.A. : Alkimos Australia, 1995.
10. Newnham R. E. Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints. Environ Health Perspect. 1994;102 Suppl 7:83-85.
11. Borax - toxicity, ecological toxicity and regulatory information. Retrieved 17 February 2012 from pesticideinfo.org
12. Forrest H. Nielsen. Evidence for the Nutritional Essentiality of Boron. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 9:215-229 (1996).
13. Forrest H. Nielsen, Loanne M. Mullen, Sandra K. Gallagher. Effect of Boron Depletion and Repletion on Blood Indicators of Calcium Status in Humans Fed a Magnesium-low Diet. The Journal of Trace Elements in Experimental Medicine. 3:45-54 (1990).
14. Benderdour M, Bui-Van T, Dicko A, Belleville F. In vivo and in vitro effects of boron and boronated compounds. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 1998 Mar;12(1):2-7.
15. Z Bentwich, Robert Bingham, Mark Hegsted, Herbert Hunt, Prof Jeffries, Jack Loneragan, Loughman, O.O. Myers, Ploquin, Hans Neiper, Rex E. Newnham, et al. Boron and Arthritis. Arthritis Trust of America. 1994.
16. Naghii MR, Mofid M, Asgari AR, Hedayati M, Daneshpour MS. Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2011 Jan;25(1):54-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2010.10.001. Epub 2010 Dec 3.
17. Francesco De Seta1, Martin Schmidt, Bao Vu, Michael Essmann, Bryan Larsen. Antifungal mechanisms supporting boric acid therapy of Candida vaginitis. J. Antimicrob. Chemother. (2009) 63 (2):325-336. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkn486.
18. Iavazzo C, Gkegkes ID, Zarkada IM, Falagas ME. Boric acid for recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: the clinical evidence. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Aug;20(8):1245-55. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2010.2708. Epub 2011 Jul 20.
19. Hasan Turkez, Fatime Geyikoglu. Boric acid: a potential chemoprotective agent against aflatoxin b1 toxicity in human blood. Cytotechnology. Apr 2010; 62(2): 157-165. Published online Apr 30, 2010. doi: 10.1007/s10616-010-9272-2.
20. LY Zhou, ZD Wei, SZ Ldu. Effect of Borax in Treatment of Skeletal Fluorosis. International Society for Fluoride Research, 20(3):104-108. 1987.
21. Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS for borax.
hillbrothers.com/msds/pdf/n/borax-decahydrate.pdf retrieved January 2014, date of issue May 2008.
hillbrothers.com/msds/pdf/n/pool-salt.pdf retrieved January 2014, revised 18 February 2005.
22. S. Meacham, S. Karakas, A. Wallace, F. Altun. Boron in Human Health: Evidence for Dietary Recommendations and Public Policies. The Open Mineral Processing Journal, 2010, 3, 36-53.
23. R D Houlsby, M Ghajar, G O Chavez. Antimicrobial activity of borate-buffered solutions. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy. May 1986; 29(5): 803-806.
24. Turkoglu S. Genotoxicity of five food preservatives tested on root tips of Allium cepa L. Mutat Res. 2007 Jan 10;626(1-2):4-14. Epub 2006 Sep 26.