Borax – What Am I Missing?


I may be missing something in the borax conversation. Perhaps there is a paper I have not yet reviewed, or maybe some anecdotal evidence suggests everything I have read about boron and borax is wrong. It is always possible that new research or information may come to light that challenges our current understanding of a subject.

Regulatory authorities do not seem to like it, and some nations have completely banned it. Some health professionals even go so far as to say that its ingestion is poisonous. Something seems amiss. Perhaps this is another example of the divide between medical science and medical practice.

Why? Because when I research the topic, I continually come across studies suggesting that it might very well be a significant benefit for human health. For example, in the study titled “Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines,” the team of researchers stated, “Boron possesses widespread properties in biochemistry and nutrition” (2011). While this is certainly true, it still doesn’t say enough.

What is Borax or Boron?

Borax, also known as sodium tetraborate, is the salt of boric acid. It’s important to note that borax turns into boric acid in the body during digestion. Borax is an essential mineral formed from the evaporation of saline lakes and can be found in deposits worldwide. Additionally, boric acid and borax occur naturally in water and soil.

Boron, on the other hand, is usually extracted from borax. Unlike borax or boric acid, boron is not found free in nature. However, there are several ways to remove boron from borax, but most require multiple steps and involve chemicals or acids.

Unsurprisingly, these terms (borax, boron, and boric acid) are often used interchangeably, which adds a layer of confusion to an already confusing topic. It’s worth noting that boron is generally considered safe, while borax and boric acid tend to come with a slew of warnings. I can’t help but wonder why. However, before we get into that, let’s look at its uses.

Industrial and Household Use

You may have heard of or seen borax in the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket, as it is often sold as a natural cleaning powder or detergent. But borax has other uses as well. Taxidermists use it to clean hides and can be used as an anti-separation agent in cold creams. It can also act as a flame retardant and is often used in welding operations. Some people even use borax to keep moths away from wool. Additionally, borax is sometimes a safer alternative insecticide, as it can kill fleas, spiders, and other pests.

Food Use

Indeed! This industrially used mineral can be found in our food! Based on what I have already provided, this might sound scary. But it shouldn’t be. The minerals our bodies need can also be used in various settings. Think about it – iron, chromium, and manganese are all minerals found in building materials, but they are also crucial for proper health. Maybe people are suffering from chemophobia, a fear of chemicals. It reminds me of the memes about dihydrogen monoxide. It sounds like a scary chemical, but it’s actually water, something you don’t want to avoid consuming.

As you probably already know, you can buy boron supplements. These supplements are generally considered safe to consume and are often encouraged. Boron supplements are typically advertised for building strong bones, treating osteoarthritis, building muscle, increasing testosterone levels, and improving thinking skills and muscle coordination. These supplements usually contain 3 to 10 mg of boron per serving.

Before I continue, it’s important to remember that borax converts to boric acid in the body and is found naturally in mineral-rich food, water, and soil. In our food, it is found as either borate or boric acid—one of the richest sources is raisins. Wine, cider, and beer can also contain a decent amount.

Boric acid and borax have a long history as additives and preservatives in food products because they are effective anti-yeast compounds and work against molds and some bacteria. However, in the early 1900s, experts began questioning the safety of using such large doses of borax. As a result, China, the EU, and the United States have banned borax as a food additive and have placed it on the list of “substances of very high concern.” But is this justified?

Meanwhile, depleted soils and questionable farming practices have limited the number of necessary minerals, including boron, in our diet. And for those who consume the Standard American Diet, fruits and vegetables are already rare, making boron even more scarce.

To clarify, for the general population, the most significant opportunity to consume boron naturally is through consuming things like raisins, which too many people do not get enough of. So the question becomes, where are you getting your boron from, if not your diet? And if you’re not consuming a boron-rich diet, what is the risk of toxicity?

Question of Concern

I apologize for my tone. I don’t understand the concern or the knee-jerk reactions. Is it strange to anyone else that people are warning you about this essential mineral? Are you aware that in humans, it is believed that adverse reactions associated with low doses of boric acid per day are unlikely to occur? Or, for some of you, is it strange that you’ve never heard of it?

It’s true that if one were exposed to a large amount of boric acid or borax in one setting, one might experience issues with your stomach, liver, kidney, bowels, or brain. But is this so different from anything else? Let’s examine what happens when you take too much salt or zinc for clarity and comparison.

Consuming too much salt can result in bloating, severe thirst, a temporary rise in blood pressure, and potential hypernatremia, which might even kill you. Consuming too much zinc can result in nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and lower immunity. Yet, both are critical for health and only require a small amount to provide tremendous bodily benefits. This sounds similar to borax to me.

Let’s discuss the body and what borax has been reported to do for it. Perhaps then we can make a more informed decision about this essential mineral.

A Shift in Thought

Like most people, I also assumed that borax should be avoided. Sure, I heard stories from my grandfather about how old-timers would dip their finger into the borax and lick it for better health, but I assumed it was just something crazy old people did. After all, why would we be told it was poison if it were not true? Why all the fear-mongering on the internet if there was no danger?

However, my perception and fear began to change as I stumbled upon the medical benefits of borax in my research. A great example of this might come from the University of Michigan. On one of their medical pages, they discuss boric acid for the vagina. They claim that boric acid has mild antiseptic and anti-fungal actions and can be used to replenish normal vaginal acidity. It can also treat vaginal yeast infections and address the symptoms of burning, itching, and odor (UMHS, 2021). Impressive!

As it turns out, borax is a natural remedy in traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, and many Western medicine practices. For many years, borax was considered an important part of our health. Its anti-fungal properties are known worldwide, and when you dig deeper, you see numerous potential benefits of this remarkable mineral.

Our bodies need borates to maintain mineral balance, regulate hormones, metabolize vitamin D, heal wounds, and strengthen bones. Boron and its compounds can also treat arthritis, improve brain function, fight cancer, and reduce inflammation. And if you paid attention during the food section, you may have already guessed that it is possible to have a boron deficiency, which can result in significant adverse outcomes.

I’m sure this sounds reasonable, but I don’t want you to take my word for it. So, allow me to share a few sources to shed some light on the truth regarding this remarkable mineral. Some of this might be repetitive, but it serves the purpose.

A Few More Studies

In a study titled “The physiological effects of dietary boron,” published in the Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, the authors suggest that boron may be an essential nutrient for animals and humans and that it influences many things in the body, ranging from the metabolism of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to things like bone strength, improving arthritis, and brain function – which can all be negatively hindered by boron deficiency (Devirian & Volpe, 2003).

In a study titled “Update on human health effects of boron,” published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, the author explains that experiments have demonstrated that boron “beneficially affects bone growth and central nervous system function, alleviates arthritic symptoms, facilitates hormone action, and is associated with a reduced risk for some types of cancer” (Nielsen, 2014). What I found particularly interesting was that the author also suggests that animal and human data suggest that a boron intake of less than 1 mg/day can inhibit any health benefits boron might otherwise provide (Nielsen, 2014). In other words, we need more!

As mentioned in the July 2019 edition of Oncology Reports, a research team made it clear that borax (specifically) is becoming recognized for its biological effects, which include lipid peroxidation, antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory activity, hormone and mineral processes, and other potential therapeutic benefits. The team points out the numerous studies that have focused on the application of borax for tumor prevention and that demonstrated a strong inverse correlation between borax and various types of cancer, including prostate cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, and hepatocellular carcinoma (Wu et al., 2019).

The references for these studies are provided below. Moreover, there are plenty of other studies out there to review. Just know that I could go on.

Potential Health Benefits

I have discovered many potential health benefits from using borax throughout my research. The following is not meant to be a complete list. Instead, it is merely a fantastic example of its possibilities.

  • Protection from fluoride and fluoride toxicity
  • Mild Anti-microbial against some parasites, protozoa, and bacteria
  • Fungicidal against molds, yeasts, and fungi
  • Mild Anti-viral   
  • Hormone stabilizer
  • Overall immune enhancement
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Libido booster
  • Chelation
  • Mental enhancement
  • Osteoporosis treatment
  • General arthritis treatment
  • Bone strengthening
  • Blood lipid treatment
  • Obesity treatment
  • Bladder and urinary tract infection treatment (UTI)
  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Lichen Sclerosus – and others
  • Congestion
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Aging Skin
  • Menstrual Issues
  • Yeast Infections
  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Testosterone Booster
  • Womb Inflammation
  • Various forms of cancer
  • Improved Semen Quality
  • Potential Biofilm Disruption
  • And much more!
Highlighted are some of the reasons I believe people are manipulated away from borax

There Are Still Some Questions

While much is known or being rediscovered, remember that there is still much confusion and some conflicting data. This means certain truths are likely to be discovered, certain truths that will surface from where they were stuffed, and certain truths that will be solidified. Let me give you a great example of this.

In a study titled “Boron Induces Lymphocyte Proliferation and Modulates the Priming Effects of Lipopolysaccharide on Macrophages,” published in PLoS One (a very reputable journal) in 2016, the authors report that borax supplementation for ten days resulted in increased lymphocyte proliferation (significant increase in T and B cell populations), as well as nitric oxide production (in mice), and they conclude that boron is a regulator of the immune and inflammatory reactions and that it plays an essential role in enhancing host defense against infection, with a possible role in cancer and other diseases (Routray & Ali, 2016). That is absolutely amazing and means that many amazing discoveries await us in future studies.

Let me make a couple of things abundantly clear here. To begin with, a lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell. These white blood cells include our natural killer, T, and B cells. Generally speaking, these types of cells work pretty much the same in all vertebrates, so this specific study is rather significant for humans because these cells help defend the body against infection. Lymphocyte proliferation is a fancy way of talking about expanding our lymphocyte population by cell division. So, in other words, the study suggests that borax positively boosted the white blood cells, enhancing immune function against potential infections.

To support this, you could look up boron on, and you will find a section that suggests that a healthy boron status increases white blood cells. Conversely, they also indicate that low boron status is associated with prostate, cervical, lung, and breast cancer.

However, I want to clarify that not every study agrees with those findings. For example, one older study usually referenced in information materials suggests that borax has a potentially detrimental effect on lymphocyte proliferation. Of course, how this study was conducted echoes a similar study that suggested that vitamin C was toxic. I’m not going to debate the merits of such findings. The point is that there is contrasting information to consider on this topic.

So, keep in mind that some of what borax does or does not do (with white blood cells or anything else) changes depending on whom you want to trust and the types of studies that were conducted. The same will be true for the positions of various health providers regarding the numerous conditions that borax might be useful in treating. For me, I’m trusting Occam’s Razor and living tissue studies.

Known Potential Side Effects

Indeed, as with anything (including water), one must be careful not to overdo something good. Ironically, and perhaps almost perfectly fitting, there is not much information regarding the potential side effects of borax – which is quite telling in and of itself if you ask me. However, I will go ahead and cover what we know for sure. Be prepared, though; this list is extensive!

  • The dust of borax can be an irritant to the skin, eyes, and lungs.
  • Like water, if you consume too much, it can be toxic.
  • Long-term use of higher doses can be toxic as well.
  • The absorption of too much borax into broken skin can be toxic.

My Recommendations

1 – Research the resources provided below to learn more about this unique mineral.

2 – Ensure adequate boron intake by consuming a diet rich in boron, such as raisins.

3 – If you are going to supplement with borax, know that the World Health Organization has suggested that 1 to 13 mg/day is an acceptable safe range for adults.

4 – If you need more information regarding borax and a specific condition, you will likely find what you are looking for in one of the links below.

Boron and Borax Product Links

Links for More Information & Contrast

Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.

Resources for this Article

Devirian, T. A., & Volpe, S. L. (2003). The physiological effects of dietary boron. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 43(2), 219–231.

Naghii, M. R., Mofid, M., Asgari, A. R., Hedayati, M., & Daneshpour, M. S. (2011). Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines. Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS), 25(1), 54–58. – Alt Location –

Nielsen F. H. (2014). Update on human health effects of boron. Journal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS), 28(4), 383–387.

Routray, I., & Ali, S. (2016). Boron Induces Lymphocyte Proliferation and Modulates the Priming Effects of Lipopolysaccharide on Macrophages. PloS one, 11(3), e0150607.

UMHS. (2021). Boric acid (vaginal). Retrieved January 08, 2021, from

Wu, L., Wei, Y., Zhou, W., Zhang, Y., Chen, Q., Liu, M., . . . Tang, Z. (2019). Gene expression alterations of human liver cancer cells following borax exposure. Oncology Reports. doi:10.3892/or.2019.7169