Boron is a trace mineral found in very low amounts in the earth's crust. There is no US RDA for boron intake, and it has been essentially ignored by many as a useful nutritional element. Borates are slightly astringent and will tend to allay the pain of burns and wounds. If the dry powder is introduced to the nose, it can bring on sneezing and excess secretion of tears (lacrimation).
As we use more and more phosphates on our food crops, the availability of soil boron is decreasing. It is estimated that most people in western societies ingest about 2mg boron daily. This is based on the analysis of school meals in the U.S.A, but analyses earlier in this century put the figure at 8mg.
For the last 200 years, boric acid has often been used as a food preservative but this use has been recently stopped because it tended to disguise food that was unfit for consumption. People most likely ingested considerable quantities without any ill effect during this period. It has been widely used as a simple home remedy for stings and burns, and as a powder to prevent rash.
In many countries, a boron supplement is being used as a food supplement, and no claims are made, but satisfied users soon tell other people who need it. Over 250,000 people have used a particular supplement with the claim that it corrects between 80 and 90% of all arthritis.
The prevalence of arthritis seems to follow inversely the availability of boron in the soil. Jamaica has the least boron and a 70% incidence of arthritis. Mauritius has very little boron, and has arthritis. The population of Northern Thailand is very short of boron and suffers much from arthritis, but no precise figures are available. In Fiji, the Indians have much more arthritis than do the Fijians, and the reason is that Indians eat mostly rice while Fijians eat mostly starch root vegetables, which contain more boron.
Boron has been shown to be helpful in the calcium and estrogen levels in postmenopausal women. Its effect may be to activate the hydroxylation of both cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) and estradiol. These steroidal compounds are tied to calcium uptake and utilization, especially in post-menopausal women.
Boron-based substances are not dangerously toxic, but large doses can be dangerous. Some workers have shown that 3gm boric acid or 5gm borax have no effect on the adult human, while others have reported symptoms at 1-2gm per day. No one is likely to take too much in their food even if they do use a supplement that contains only a few mg per tablet. Greater absorption is likely to come from a mouthwash or if a borate is applied to damaged skin.
Extensive laboratory studies on both man and animal have not shown the exact role of boron in their metabolism. Patients have been given 10gm per day for extended periods and were still excreting boron after 7 weeks. The acute toxic dose for an adult is from 20 to 60gm in a single administration, but infants have died with 5gm, yet others lived after being given 9gm of boric acid.
There is increasing evidence that boron is an essential trace element for both man and animal. It does influence calcium and magnesium metabolism, and this is possibly through the parathyroid gland. It does alleviate and seems to cure arthritis either by acting against whatever organism may cause rheumatoid diseases and/or as a membrane catalyst that permits repair of damaged cartilage and collagen.
Dr. Newnham, PhD, DO, ND has demonstrated clear demographic evidence for the usefulness of boron in treating or preventing both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. The prevalence of arthritis seems to follow inversely the availability of boron in the soil. [Australian & New Zealand Association for Advancement of Science. 1979]
Based on work done at Oxford in the Agriculture Faculty it is believed that at the cellular level mineral metabolism is similar in both plants and man. If this can be relied on, then boron is a membrane catalyst which allows various ions to pass through the cell membrane, particularly phosphates to support synthesis of ATP. This will give energy for efficient repair. It is obvious that in osteo arthritis the cartilage is worn out; if it is because it lacks the necessary energy for cell division, that would explain the action of boron. [Boron and Membrane Function in Plants. Metals and Micronutrients: Uptake and Utilization by Plants. Academic Press; 1983: Ch. 6]
Boron influences calcium and magnesium metabolism, possibly through the parathyroid gland. It does alleviate and seems to cure arthritis either by acting against whatever organism may cause rheumatoid diseases and/or as a membrane catalyst that permits repair of damaged cartilage and collagen.