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Borax is a naturally occurring mineral compound that is basically a form of sodium borate, a boron ore. Initially found within the dry lake beds of Sitsang, it travelled to different countries via the Silk Road. The mineral was named after the Arabic word “buraq”, which implies the colour white. Depending on the chemical composition, borax can be available as Sodium Borate, Sodium tetraborate or disodium tetraborate. Borax is either colourless or is in grey, grey-white, green or blue in colour. It has a clear to opaque look, non-fluorescent properties, white streak, and is greasy. The mineral is shaped as uniformly indistinguishable crystals forming massive, prismatic or smooth structures. The average density of mineral is 1.71 g/cm3, and its hardness varies from 2 to 2.5.

Borax is formed in sediment deposits, salt lakes, beaches, and is usually well-crystallized. It additionally originates as efflorescence (in the form of crystals) on soils in arid regions. It is closely related to minerals like halite, hanksite, gaylussite, nitratine, calcite, etc.

Even though borax was first found in Tibet, in the present day, Turkey, US, Chile and Romania are also known for their borax deposits. Most of the world’s Borates nowadays reach from the southern US.

Also identified as “the miracle mineral”, borax possesses water softening properties and is hence used in cleaning solutions. Some hand soaps also are found to contain borax.  Additionally, it can also be used as a flux in welding and soldering. To give a firm yet rubbery texture to food, certain countries use borax as a food additive. However, there are many alternative ways to use it.

Some basic Facts about Borax:

  • Chemical Formula: Na2B4O5(OH)4•8(H2O) or Na2B4O7. 10H2O
  • IUPAC ID of Borax:   Sodium tetraborate decahydrate
  • Common Name(s): Sodium Borate, Sodium Tetraborate, or Disodium Tetraborate, it is an important boron compound, and a mineral, as well as the salt of boric acid.
  • Common Hindi name: सुहागा (Suhaga)
  • Name Origin: Old name of Borax is Tincal which comes from Sanskrit word Tanaka. It is used to refer to crude borax from deposits in lakes of Tibet and Persia. The current name Borax is believed to originate from middles English word boras.
  • Native Region and Geographical Distribution: Borax is a mineral that was initially discovered in the dry lake beds of Tibet. Other places where Borax commercially produced are Turkey and Searles Lake in California. It is also found in Atacama desert, Bolivia and Romania. Natural borax undergoes recrystallization process before it is made available for commercial purposes.
  1. Borax health benefits
  2. Borax side effects
  3. Takeaway

Borax prevents arthritis

Traditionally, borax is considered to be an excellent remedy for the treatment of arthritis. Specialists nowadays are exploring its potential for treating inflammatory conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Studies show that those with an inflammatory disease like arthritis have lower boron concentrations in their serum. Therefore, the utilization of boron may help improve this condition.

In a clinical study, boron was given as an adjuvant (a substance given in addition to a drug) along with a calcium compound to a group of arthritic patients. Marked reduction in joint pain and inflammation was reported by all the subjects. The study concluded that boron may have a therapeutic value as an adjuvant in rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Borax for tonsilitis

Tonsillitis is referred to the inflammation in tonsils which may be caused due to a viral or bacterial infection.  Although it is a common ailment in children, adults can also be affected by this disease. Tonsillitis symptoms like sore throat, swelling, and fever cause immense discomfort and if ignored can lead to respiratory and heart ailments.

According to a study published in Unique Journal of Ayurvedic and homoeopathic medicine, the best way to combat tonsillitis is alkalis (basic compounds). Borax is one such compound. Consequently, it was suggested that gargling with water mixed with borax is effective in curing tonsillitis. It was also found to be effective in reducing inflammation and showed no major side effect.

Borax for PCOS

In an ayurvedic research, borax or Tankan bhasma, was found to be useful in relieving PCOS symptoms. As per this research, borax promotes uterine functions including ova secretion and menstruation in women suffering from this problem. According to ayurveda, borax reduces vata and kapha while clearing the subchannels as well. A proper balance between the three doshas, in turn, promotes a healthier reproductive system.

Borax for vaginal infections

Vaginitis is a term used to denote vaginal inflammation. It is a common problem in women of fertile age and may be associated with complications and morbidity if left untreated. It might be caused due to a bacterial or parasitic infection but the most common types of vaginitis are due to candida, a type of yeast.

Studies suggest that boric acid suppositories (to be inserted into vagina) are used as a treatment for vaginitis. It has also been reported that boric acid is much more effective in alleviating fungal infections than some common antifungal drugs.

In a previous clinical study, administration of intravaginal boric acid capsules was found to be as effective as nystatin in the treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis.

Borax for open wounds

The natural process of healing of the skin and other injured tissues of the body is called wound healing. Due to the extensive use of plant and animal products, in traditional medicine, the ayurvedic herbs are now being extensively researched. In an animal-based study, an ayurvedic borax formulation was found to be effective in quickly healing the wounds. But the wound healing property of borax is not just limited to ayurvedic formulations.

Clinical studies suggest that a 3% boric acid solution is very useful for the treatment of surgical wounds.

Borax water is one of the most commonly used topical antiseptic. In a recent study, wound dressings made from silver, borax, gellan and PVA have been claimed to be potent in avoiding infections and healing wounds quickly.

However, it is best to take your doctor’s advice before opting for any kind of self-medication.

(Read more: Open wounds treatment)

Borax for dandruff

Dandruff issues are very common due to rise in the use of chemical products on hair as well as an increase in pollution. While there are many shampoos available they may have some side-effects. Hence, a search for natural options which come with minimum side effects is essential.

According to ayurveda, borax is one such alternative that can be used to get rid of dandruff.

For best results, a hair mask can be made from borax, to be applied for about 10 minutes before rinsing it gently with water.

Borax improves acne

Acne refers to the inflammatory condition of the skin characterized by the appearance of pimples or other outbreaks on the face, neck, and shoulders. Acne outbreaks are usually caused due to clogging of hair follicles with dead skin and oil which in turn gets infected by bacteria like Acne vulgaris and Propionibacterium acnes.

In vitro (lab-based) studies suggest that boric acid is antimicrobial and thus it may aid in eliminating skin breakouts by reducing the expansion of acne-causing bacteria. Furthermore, they were also found to reduce acne inflammation. Some over-the-counter skin care cosmetics have already been using boracic acid for this reason.

However, topical application of boracic acid is reported to cause irritation. Hence, this is not a treatment which is recommended on a daily basis. It must be used on the as-needed basis solely.

Borax prevents DNA damage

Preclinical studies suggest that borax decreases DNA damage and glutathione levels in blood. Glutathione is a natural antioxidant which scavenges harmful free radicals, which when present in excess can lead to genetic alterations chronic diseases. 

Another study observed an upregulation of antioxidant m RNA and an overall increase in natural antioxidants in the body after boron administration.

However, more study is still needed to confirm similar action in humans.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich foods)

Borax for cardiovascular health

Boron is one of the most important elements in nature. It possesses several properties that are beneficial for your heart. First, it reduces the levels of cholesterol and is an efficient stimulator of natural antioxidants. This means that it reduces the risk of lipid peroxidation which otherwise is responsible for atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.

According to the American Heart Association, heart diseases are usually associated with inflammation. Thus, as an anti-inflammatory, borax reduces the risk of conditions like heart attack and stroke.

Homocysteine is an amino acid, which when present in excess can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. It has been suggested that boron compounds help metabolise this amino acid thus alleviating the threat of heart problems.

  • Oral consumption of Boron is not safe for pregnant and nursing women. Large quantity could also be fatal and shouldn’t be consumed by pregnant women as it is linked to the possibility of birth defects. Intravaginal boric acid has been related to an elevated risk of birth defects throughout the four primary months of pregnancy.
  • Borax and its corresponding element which is boric acid, may harm hormones and injure the male reproductive system. Men employed in boric acid producing industries are at a much bigger risk of reduced spermatozoon count and sexual desire. As per EPA's review of safety, prolonged exposure to high doses of borax causes sex gland atrophy in animal models. Another in vivo (animal based) experiment shows that borax exposure may result in problems in ovulation processes and fertility.
  • Boron possibly acts like estrogen. If you've been in any ailment which may get worse by the exposure to estrogen, you should avoid the intake of supplemental boron or food containing high levels of boron.
  • Borax can prove to be toxic on ingestion. The acute intake of 2 to 20 grams of extra borax orally might lead to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea, depression, and muscle spasm. Prolonged doses might result in skin conditions, loss of appetite, nausea, and disgorgement.
  • Exposures to aerial boric acid and borax dirt are found to be irritating to the respiratory tract areas. Other symptoms of acute and chronic exposure comprise of eye irritation, dryness of mouth, nose, or throat.

Various studies show that borax is relatively benignant to the human body as well as the environment. Borax has many varied applications. It can be used externally to cure various infections and also helps in improving the reproductive system in humans. Borax is also known for cleansing properties and is used in hand soaps and toothpaste as well. However, unmonitored consumption of borax is not recommended. It is advisable to consult an experienced practitioner before using borax. 

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References

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