PABA (Para-Aminobenzoic Acid)
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is best known as the active ingredient in sunblock. This use of PABA is not really medicinal: like a pair of sunglasses, PABA physically blocks ultraviolet rays when it is applied to the skin.
There are, however, some proposed medicinal uses of oral PABA supplements. PABA is sometimes suggested as a treatment for various diseases of the skin and connective tissue, as well as for male infertility. However, most of the clinical data on PABA comes from very old studies, some from the early 1940s.
PABA is not believed to be an essential nutrient. Nonetheless, it is found in foods, mainly in grains and meat. Small amounts of PABA are usually present in B vitamin supplements as well as in some multiple vitamins.
A typical therapeutic dosage of PABA is 300 to 400 mg daily. Some studies have used much higher dosages. However, serious side effects have been found in dosages above 8 g daily (see Safety Issues). You probably shouldn’t take more than 400 mg daily except on medical advice.
PABA has been suggested as a treatment for
, a condition in which the penis becomes bent owing to the accumulation of fibrous plaques
PABA has also been suggested as a treatment for
Based on one small World War II–era study, PABA has been suggested for treating
PABA is probably safe when taken at a dosage up to 400 mg daily. Possible side effects at this dosage are minor, including skin rash and loss of appetite. 8
Higher doses are a different story, however. There has been one reported case of severe liver toxicity in a woman taking 12 g daily of PABA.
Clearly, there are questions that need to be answered about the safety of high-dose PABA therapy. You shouldn’t take more than 400 mg daily except under medical supervision.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with serious liver or kidney disease has not been determined.
12. Vinnicombe HG, Derrick JP. Dihydropteroate synthase from Streptococcus pneumoniae: characterization of substrate binding order and sulfonamide inhibition. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999;258:752–757.
13. Weidner W, Hauck EW, Schnitker J et al. Potassium Paraaminobenzoate (POTABAtrade mark) in the Treatment of Peyronie's Disease: A Prospective, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Study. Eur Urol . 2005;47:530-6.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Medical Review Board
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