PABA ( Para-aminobenzoic Acid )
The compound called PABA, or para-aminobenzoic acid, has not been recognized as a vitamin, and has the same status as the compounds choline and inositol – which are also not considered vitamins even if they play many important roles in the human body.
PABA is most commonly used as a sunscreen by most people. PABA applied to the skin is the most effective sunscreen available in the form of a solution – usually made by adding alcohol. The exposure of the skin to sunlight to long periods can cause sunburn and eventually cancer due to strong ultraviolet rays in the incident light – the job of a sunscreen is to protect the skin against the action of these rays. All of the sun’s rays are normally blocked off by a sunshade but a sunscreen is needed to stop the action of the ultraviolet element in the sunlight. In experiments, the skin of most animals was found to be completely protected from the strong ultraviolet light that can induce cancer states in the skin by application of PABA as a sunscreen – this was still true even if these animals were treated using substances that turn strongly carcinogenic on being exposed to ultraviolet light at any wavelength.
The single most common form of cancer is skin cancer. Each year, there are more than 300,000 cases of skin cancer; at least 5000 of these eventually turn fatal for the individual. Long periods of exposure to strong sunlight also increase the process of aging in many individuals, and for this reason many doctors advise their patients to avoid the sun as much as possible to avoid this problem. The use of PABA is vital for all people who may not be able to avoid or stay for long periods of time in the sun.
Oral doses of PABA are commonly used in dosages that ranging from about 12 to 24 grams daily in the treatment of many types of skin diseases, these diseases include problems like fibrotic skin diseases and the disorder called pemphigus, these doses are also given for the treatment of Peyronie’s disease, in the treatment of reticulum cell sarcoma and in treating scleroderma and related conditions. In seven out of ten people affected with a case of chronic discoid lupus erythematosus, doses of 1 to 4 grams, that was given every two to three hours, produced beneficial effects.
The compound PABA also displays a strong protective effect against the effects of ozone in the body. In experiments, tested rats that were injected with PABA had a much better chance of surviving the deleterious effects of exposure to ozone. PABA also strongly protects human red blood cells against the damaging effects of ozone. The antioxidant properties of PABA are responsible for these beneficial and protective effects against the action of ozone. The toxic effects induced by metals like arsenic and antimony in the body of patients is reduced by oral doses of PABA.
PABA does not have a definite or set RDA. However, good natural sources of this compound include sources such as yeast, organ meats like liver – it is also found in all food sources that contain the other vitamins in the B vitamin group. There is a wide dosage range for the supplements of PABA, these range from single doses of just a few milligrams to doses that are several hundred milligrams. There is generally no toxicity associated with PABA. As PABA can deactivate the potency of the medications, the vitamin must never be used in supplemental form at the same time of using sulfa medications. Taking extremely large doses of PABA for very long periods of time has caused fatty changes in organs like the liver, the kidneys and the heart at least in a small number of individuals.
Foods of animal origin, yeast and all kinds of grains contain high amounts of PABA. Human deficiencies of PABA have not been reported though they may well exists, and the majority of nutritionists do not normally consider PABA to be essential as a nutrient on par with the other vitamins and minerals.
Many of the B-complex supplements and multi-mineral formulas sold in drug stores have small amounts of the PABA. As far as skin disorders, problems with the connective tissue or autoimmune diseases are concerned, the amount of PABA used for treatment fall in ranges from about 300 mg of the compound daily and can not exceed 12 grams per person daily. A nutritionally oriented physician must be consulted by any person planning to take more than 400 mg of PABA daily as a supplement.
Side effects and cautions
Dosages of 300 to 400 mg daily have not been associated with any adverse side effects. Dosages in higher amounts – for example at 8 grams daily or more of the vitamin – poses a different problem – it can lower the blood sugar levels, it can induce a persistent rash, it can cause fever, and in some rare cases can be the causative factor for liver damage. PABA ingested in large amounts reportedly induced vitiligo in a patient, in addition, using doses that exceed twenty grams daily on small children can cause fatalities.
There are not reported interactions between other nutrients and PABA. As mentioned above, the PABA can interfere with the activity of all sulfa medications – these are a class of compound related to antibiotics. PABA must not be used in any form when these medications are being used by a person.
Most people find that using para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is harmless, especially when it is applied topically to the skin. Thus far, no one using PABA has complained of any major damage due to this remedy. However, there have been a few reports about PABA augmenting the chances of having sunburn in a number of individuals. This is despite the fact that PABA partially works in the form of a sun block.
Oral ingestion of PABA is also safe, provided it is taken in appropriate manner and dosage. Para-aminobenzoic acid may, however, result in skin irritation and may possibly blemish your clothes, making them appear yellowish. In addition, this substance may also cause side effects like vomiting, nausea, stomach disorder, diarrhea and sometimes even lack of appetite. If taken more than 12 grams a day, PABA may result in severe side effects like problems related to the blood, kidney and liver.
PABA also seems to be safe for use by children, when applied straight-away to the skin. While PABA is also safe for children taken orally, it may sometimes cause severe side effects. It is very important to ensure that PABA is given in the appropriate dosage. It was found that a number of children who took PABA in dosage of more than 220 mg/ kg of their body weight in a single day died untimely.
Pregnant women as well as nursing mothers may also apply PABA to their skin, as it does not seem to have any negative effect on them. However, it is advisable that they should not take PABA orally till more information is available regarding the safety of this substance when used orally during pregnancy and by nursing mothers.
There is a possibility that taking PABA orally may result in its accumulation inside the kidneys, resulting in further deterioration in the condition of people with kidney problems. Therefore, it is advisable that people with kidney disorders should avoid taking PABA.
It may be noted here that antibiotics, especially sulfonamide antibiotics, may interact with PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid). In fact, this substance possesses the aptitude to lessen the efficacy of specific antibiotics known as sulfonamides. Some of the antibiotics that may interact with PABA include sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), sulfamethoxazole (Gantanol), sulfisoxazole (Gantrisin), and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (Septra, Bactrim).
Another drug dapsone (Avlosulfon) may also interact with PABA (para-aminobenzoic acid). This medication is also used in the form of an antibiotic and used to treat infections. In fact, dapsone (Avlosulfon) interacts with PABA, thereby itself becoming less effective.