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Boron


What is it?

Boron is a mineral that is found in food and the environment. People take boron supplements as medicine.

Boron is used for building strong bones, treating osteoarthritis, as an aid for building muscles and increasing testosterone levels, and for improving thinking skills and muscle coordination.

Women sometimes use capsules containing boric acid, the most common form of boron, inside the vagina to treat yeast infections.

People also apply boric acid to the skin as an astringent or to prevent infection; or use it as an eye wash.

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...

  • Preventing boron deficiency.

Possibly effective for...

  • Vaginal infections. Some research shows that boric acid, used inside the vagina, can successfully treat yeast infections (candidiasis), including infections that don’t seem to resolve with other treatments. However, the quality of this research is in question.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Athletic performance.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Developing research suggests that boron might be useful for decreasing symptoms of osteoarthritis.
  • Improving thinking and coordination in older people. There is some evidence that taking boron by mouth might improve cognitive function and the ability to coordinate small muscle movements (fine motor skills) in older people.
  • Bone loss (osteoporosis).
  • Increasing testosterone.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of boron for these uses.

How does it work?

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Boron seems to affect the way the body handles other minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus. It also seems to increase estrogen levels in older (post-menopausal) women and healthy men. Estrogen is thought to be helpful in maintaining healthy bones and mental function. Boric acid, a common form of boron, can kill yeast that cause vaginal infections.

Are there safety concerns?

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Boron is LIKELY SAFE for adults and children when used in doses less than the Upper Tolerable Limit (UL) (see dosage section below). There is some concern that doses over 20 mg per day, the UL for adults, might harm a man’s ability to father a child.

Large quantities of boron can cause poisoning. Signs of poisoning include skin inflammation and peeling, irritability, tremors, convulsions, weakness, headaches, depression, diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms.

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 safe for pregnant and breast-feeding women age 19-50 when used in doses less that 20 mg per day. Pregnant and breast-feeding women age 14 to 18 should not take more than 17 mg per day. Higher amounts may be harmful and should not be used by pregnant women because it has been linked to 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.

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: Don’t take boron supplements if you have kidney problems. The kidneys have to work hard to flush out boron.

Are there interactions with medications?

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Moderate

Be cautious with this combination.

Estrogens
Boron might increase estrogen levels in the body. Taking boron along with estrogens might cause too much estrogen in the body.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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Magnesium
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.

Phosphorus
Supplemental boron might reduce blood phosphorus levels in some people.

Are there interactions with foods?

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There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

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The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • 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 adolescents 14 to 18 years of age and pregnant or breast-feeding women 14 to 18 years of age, the UL is 17 mg per day. 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.
VAGINALLY:
  • For vaginal infections: 600 mg of boric acid powder once or twice a day.
  • For prevention of recurring Candida (yeast) infections: 600 mg twice weekly.

Other names

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Acide Borique, Anhydride Borique, Atomic number 5, B (chemical symbol), B (symbole chimique), Borate, Borate de Sodium, Borates, Bore, Boric Acid, Boric Anhydride, Boric Tartrate, Boro, Numéro Atomique 5, Sodium Borate.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Boron page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/894.html.

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  2. Acs N, Banhidy F, Puho E, Czeizel AE. Teratogenic effects of vaginal boric acid treatment during pregnancy. Int J Gynaecol Obstet 2006;93:55-6.
  3. Di Renzo F, Cappelletti G, Broccia ML, et al. Boric acid inhibits embryonic histone deacetylases: a suggested mechanism to explain boric acid-related teratogenicity. Appl Pharmacol 2007;220:178-85.
  4. Bleys J, Navas-Acien A, Guallar E. Serum selenium and diabetes in U.S. adults. Diabetes Care 2007;30:829-34.
  5. Sobel JD, Chaim W. Treatment of Torulopsis glabrata vaginitis: retrospective review of boric acid therapy. Clin Infect Dis 1997;24:649-52.
  6. Makela P, Leaman D, Sobel JD. Vulvovaginal trichosporonosis. Infect Dis Obstet Gynecol 2003;11:131-3.
  7. Rein MF. Current therapy of vulvovaginitis. Sex Transm Dis 1981;8:316-20.
  8. Jovanovic R, Congema E, Nguyen HT. Antifungal agents vs. boric acid for treating chronic mycotic vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med 1991;36:593-7.
  9. Ringdahl EN. Treatment of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Am Fam Physician 2000;61:3306-12, 3317.
  10. Guaschino S, De Seta F, Sartore A, et al. Efficacy of maintenance therapy with topical boric acid in comparison with oral itraconazole in the treatment of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2001;184:598-602.
  1. Singh S, Sobel JD, Bhargava P, et al. Vaginitis due to Candida krusei: epidemiology, clinical aspects, and therapy. Clin Infect Dis 2002;35:1066-70.
  2. Van Kessel K, Assefi N, Marrazzo J, Eckert L. Common complementary and alternative therapies for yeast vaginitis and bacterial vaginosis: a systematic review. Obstet Gynecol Surv 2003;58:351-8.
  3. Swate TE, Weed JC. Boric acid treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis. Obstet Gynecol 1974;43:893-5.
  4. Sobel JD, Chaim W, Nagappan V, Leaman D. Treatment of vaginitis caused by Candida glabrata: use of topical boric acid and flucytosine. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2003;189:1297-300.
  5. Van Slyke KK, Michel VP, Rein MF. Treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis with boric acid powder. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1981;141:145-8.
  6. Thai L, Hart LL. Boric acid vaginal suppositories. Ann Pharmacother 1993;27:1355-7.
  7. Nielsen FH, Hunt CD, Mullen LM, Hunt JR. Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1987;1:394-7.
  8. Nielsen FH. Biochemical and physiologic consequences of boron deprivation in humans. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102:59-63.
  9. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2002. Available at: www.nap.edu/books/0309072794/html/.
  10. Shils M, Olson A, Shike M. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lea and Febiger, 1994.
  11. Green NR, Ferrando AA. Plasma boron and the effects of boron supplementation in males. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102:73-7.
  12. Penland JG. Dietary boron, brain function, and cognitive performance. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102:65-72.
  13. Meacham SL, Taper LJ, Volpe SL. Effects of boron supplementation on bone mineral density and dietary, blood, and urinary calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and boron in female athletes. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102(Suppl 7):79-82.
  14. Newnham RE. Essentiality of boron for healthy bones and joints. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102:83-5.
  15. Meacham SL, Taper LJ, Volpe SL. Effect of boron supplementation on blood and urinary calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, and urinary boron in athletic and sedentary women. Am J Clin Nutr 1995;61:341-5.
  16. Usuda K, Kono K, Iguchi K, et al. Hemodialysis effect on serum boron level in the patients with long term hemodialysis. Sci Total Environ 1996;191:283-90.
  17. Naghii MR, Samman S. The effect of boron supplementation on its urinary excretion and selected cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects. Biol Trace Elem Res 1997;56:273-86.
  18. Ellenhorn MJ, et al. Ellenhorn's Medical Toxicology: Diagnoses and Treatment of Human Poisoning. 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1997.
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Last reviewed - 06/11/2013




Page last updated: 12 March 2014