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PABA (Para-Aminobenzoic Acid)

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names:

4-Aminobenzoic acid

Introduction

Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) is a compound found in milk, eggs, grains, and meat. It is best known as the active ingredient in sunscreen. PABA has been used to improve discoloration in skin and hair and to ease digestion. It can be taken as a pill, powder, or extract.

Dosages

There are no advised doses for PABA. Doses greater than 12 grams per day by mouth have caused severe reactions in some people.

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Peyronie Disease —may stabilize symptoms and prevent them from getting worse A1, A2

May Not Be Effective

  • Scleroderma —may not alter the skin changes of scleroderma C1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe for most adults to use PABA on the skin and to take by mouth in small doses for a short time, but intestinal symptoms and allergic reactions are possible.B1, B2 High doses may not be safe and should be avoided. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take by mouth for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse such as:

  • People taking antibiotics should talk to their doctor before taking PABA. It may make the medicine less effective.
  • People who are about to get surgery or those with ulcerative colitis should talk to their doctors before taking PABA. It may interact with their medicine.
 

References

A. Peyronie Disease

A1. Hasche-Klünder R. [Treatment of peyronie’s disease with para-aminobenzoacidic potassium (POTOBA) (author’s transl)]. Urologgee A. 1978;17(4):224-227.

A2. Weidner W, Hauck EW, et al. Potassium paraaminobenzoate (POTABA) in the treatment of Peyronie's disease: a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized study. Eur Urol. 2005 Apr;47(4):530-535; discussion 535-536.

B. Safety

B1. Worobec S, LaChine A. Dangers of orally administered para-aminobenzoic acid. JAMA. 1984 May 11;251(18):2348.

B2. Kantor GR, Ratz JL. Liver toxicity from potassium para-aminobenzoate. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1985 Oct;13(4):671-672.

C. Scleroderma

C1. Clegg DO, Reading JC, et al. Comparison of aminobenzoate potassium and placebo in the treatment of scleroderma. J Rheumatol. 1994 Jan;21(1):105-110.

Last reviewed February 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 6/17/2020