What is it?
Boron is used for boron deficiency, menstrual cramps, and vaginal yeast infections. It is sometimes used for athletic performance, osteoarthritis, weak or brittle bones (osteoporosis), and other conditions, but there is no good scientific research to support these other uses.
Boron was used as a food preservative between 1870 and 1920, and during World Wars I and II.
How effective is it?
Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
The effectiveness ratings for BORON are as follows:
Likely effective for...
- Boron deficiency. Taking boron by mouth prevents boron deficiency.
Possibly effective for...
- Menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Some research shows that taking boron 10 mg by mouth daily around the time of menstrual bleeding reduces pain in young women with painful periods.
- Vaginal yeast infections. Some research shows that boric acid, used inside the vagina, can successfully treat yeast infections (candidiasis), including infections that do not seem to get better with other medications and treatments. However, the quality of this research is in question.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Athletic performance. Taking boron by mouth does not seem to improve body mass, muscle mass, or testosterone levels in male bodybuilders.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research shows that taking boron by mouth might improve learning, memory, and fine motor skills in older people.
- Osteoarthritis. Early research shows that boron might be useful for decreasing pain related to arthritis.
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis). Early research shows that taking boron by mouth daily doesn't improve bone mass in postmenopausal women.
- Skin damage caused by radiation therapy (radiation dermatitis). Early research shows that applying a boron-based gel 4 times a day on the skin area undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer might prevent skin rash related to radiation.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
When applied into the vagina: Boric acid, a common form of boron, is LIKELY SAFE when used vaginally for up to six months. It can cause a sensation of vaginal burning.
Special precautions & warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Boron is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant and breast-feeding women age 19-50 when used in doses less than 20 mg per day. Pregnant and breast-feeding women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 17 mg per day. Taking boron by mouth in high doses is POSSIBLY UNSAFE while pregnant and breast feeding. Higher amounts may be harmful and should not be used by pregnant women because it has been linked lower birth weights and birth defects. Intravaginal boric acid has been associated with a 2.7-to 2.8-fold increased risk of birth defects when used during the first 4 months of pregnancy.
Children: Boron is LIKELY SAFE when used in doses less than the Upper Tolerable Limit (UL) (see dosage section below). Boron is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in higher doses. Large quantities of boron can cause poisoning. Boric acid powder, a common form of boron, is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when applied in large amounts to prevent diaper rash.
Hormone-sensitive condition such as breast cancer, uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids: Boron might act like estrogen. If you have any condition that might be made worse by exposure to estrogen, avoid supplemental boron or high amounts of boron from foods.
Kidney disease or problems with kidney function: Do not take boron supplements if you have kidney problems. The kidneys have to work hard to flush out boron.
Are there interactions with medications?
- Boron might increase estrogen levels in the body. Taking boron along with estrogens might cause too much estrogen in the body.
Some estrogen containing medications are estradiol (Estrace, Vivelle), conjugated estrogens (Premarin), oral contraceptive medications (Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Sprintec, Aviane) and many others.
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
- Boron supplements can lower the amount of magnesium that is flushed out in the urine. This can lead to blood levels of magnesium that are higher than usual. Among older women, this seems to happen more often in women who do not get much magnesium in their diet. Among younger women, the effect appears to be greater in women who exercise less. No one knows how important this finding is to health, or whether it happens in men.
- Supplemental boron might reduce blood phosphorus levels in some people.
Are there interactions with foods?
- There are no known interactions with foods.
What dose is used?
- For painful periods: Boron 10 mg daily from two days before until three days after the start of menstrual flow.
- There is no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for boron since an essential biological role for it has not been identified. People consume varying amounts of boron depending on their diet. Diets considered to be high in boron provide approximately 3.25 mg of boron per 2000 kcal per day. Diets considered to be low in boron provide 0.25 mg of boron per 2000 kcal per day.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), the maximum dose at which no harmful effects would be expected, is 20 mg per day for adults and pregnant or breast-feeding women over 19 years of age.
- For vaginal infections: 600 mg of boric acid powder once or twice a day.
- General: There is no Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for boron since an essential biological role for it has not been identified. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), the maximum dose at which no harmful effects would be expected, is 17 mg per day for adolescents 14 to 18 years of age and pregnant or breast-feeding women 14 to 18 years of age. For children 9 to 13 years old, the UL is 11 mg per day; children 4 to 8 years old, 6 mg per day; and children 1 to 3 years old, 3 mg per day. A UL has not been established for infants.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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