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.
Boron in the form of its sodium salt has been used by man for over 2,500 years as a flux for welding gold and as an embalming agent by the Egyptians. As supplies became easier to get, specifically from Italy, boric acid and borax became increasingly used as a mild antiseptic, especially for eyes and burns.
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.
Boric acid and borax in a 2-3% solution will prevent the growth of most bacteria and will kill many fungi. These substances are readily absorbed by damaged skin and by mucous membranes. 50% of borate is eliminated via the kidneys in the first 12 hours, and 90% of the remainder is gone within a week, in all but extreme doses.
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.
No untoward side-effects have been noted, but there are some useful side-effects, such as would be noticed if boron were the limiting factor in a person's well-being. Cardiopathies have been corrected, vision has been improved, psoriasis has been much improved, balance has been corrected. Arthritis cases in horses, cattle, dogs, deer, and goats have all been corrected.
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.
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