Para-Aminobenzoic Acid

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Latest Edit: Iva Lloyd, ND 2021-08-24 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

Para-Aminobenzoic Acid, also known as PABA, is a non-protein amino acid and is also an unofficial member of the vitamin-B complex group of vitamins although it is not technically a vitamin. PABA is not considered an essential nutrient in the human diet. It is, in fact, an intermediate in the folic acid pathway in bacteria which is an important pathway for nucleic acid synthesis. In humans, PABA is believed to have antifibrosis effects due to an ability to increase oxygen consumption by tissues, but this has not been established.[1].


  • Para-Aminobenzoic Acid is found in trace amounts in the following foods: whole grains and foods of animal origin, especially brewer's yeast, wheat germ, bran, and liver, eggs, molasses and mushrooms, spinach.
  • PABA is used in many sunscreen products to block ultraviolet radiation.[2].


The following is a list of the primary uses for para-aminobenzoic acid:[1]

  • Peyronie's Disease: Preparations of potassium PABA has shown improvements in Peyronie's disease in terms of improvement in penile discomfort, decreased plaque size, and improvements in penile angulation.
  • Scleroderma: Potassium PABA has sown improvements in patients with scleroderma in terms of skin softening.
  • Dermatomyositis: Some clinical improvements have also been reported in the case of using PABA for dermatomyositis.
  • Hair Loss and Greying Hair: Some anecdotal reports state that PABA has shown benefits in restoring hair colour and stopping hair loss.
  • Vitiligo

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • PABA and its potassium salt, POTABA are both available by prescription in capsule and tablet forms. PABA is also available in extended release tablets and POTABA is available as powder.
  • High doses for Peyronie's disease and scleroderma are needed and medical supervision is mandatory. Due to high doses required, patient compliance is low. [1]
  • The typically dosage is up to 300mg a day.


PABA is generally considered safe.

  • Side-effects are rare and have been reported at doses as low as 30mg. These effects are generally not seen with the potassium salt, potassium PABA. Some adverse effects may include: dermatitis, fever, hypoglycemia, itching, liver toxicity, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting.[3].
  • Allergies to PABA can exist.
  • Children: Deaths have been reported at 20g/day doses and as high as 48g/day (for 6 days, followed by 7 months at 8g/day).[3]
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Do not take internally. No problems are expected if used topically unless an existing allergy exists..[2]
  • Drug Interactions:[3]
  • Sulfonamides, Sulfones, and Related Sulfa Antibiotics - These antibiotics exert their effect by inhibiting the folic acid synthesis pathway in susceptible microorganisms thus inhibiting nucleic acid production. They do this by inhibiting the binding of PABA, an intermediate in this pathway, to its binding site. This ultimately leads to cell death within the bacterium. Concomitant use of PABA can interfere with this therapeutic activity and therefore should be avoided.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hendler Sheldon S, Rorvik David (Editors) (2001) PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics Company Inc.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Griffith Winter (1999) Vitamins, Herbs, Minerals & Supplements: The Complete Guide, MJF Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Stargrove Mitchell Bebell, Treasure Jonathan, McKee Dwight L (2008) Herb, Nutrient and Drug Interactions: Clinical Implications and Therapeutic Strategies. Mosby