PABA (Paraaminobenzoic Acid)

What does it do? PABA is the abbreviation for paraaminobenzoic acid, a compound that is loosely considered to be a member of the vitamin B-complex. PABA appears to enhance the effects of cortisone,1 estrogen, and possibly other hormones by delaying their breakdown in the liver. PABA also prevents or even reverses the accumulation of abnormal fibrous tissue.

Some infertile women may have increased their ability to become pregnant after taking PABA.2 Certain autoimmune or connective tissue disorders, such as scleroderma,3 4 dermatomyositis,5 and Peyronie’s disease (accumulation of abnormal fibrous tissue in the penis)6 have been relieved by PABA. This vitamin may be helpful for two skin diseases: pemphigus (a severe blistering disease)7 and vitiligo (a disorder in which patches of skin lose their pigmentation). An isolated study found that PABA darkened gray hair in some elderly (but not younger) individuals; however, other studies failed to show an effect of PABA on gray hair.8

Where is it found? PABA is found in grains and animal foods.

In what conditions might PABA be supportive?

• dermatomyositis

• gray hair

infertility (female)

• pemphigus

• Peyronie’s disease

• scleroderma


Who is likely to be deficient? Deficiencies of PABA have not been described in humans, and most conventional nutritionists do not consider it an essential nutrient.

How much should I take? Small amounts of PABA are present in some B-complex vitamins and multi-vitamin formulas. The amount of PABA used for the conditions described above ranges from 300 mg per day and up to 12 grams per day for autoimmune, connective tissue, or skin disorders. Anyone taking more than 400 mg of PABA per day should consult a nutritionally oriented physician.

Are there any side effects or interactions? No serious side effects have been reported with 300-400 mg per day. Larger amounts (such as 8 grams per day or more) may cause low blood sugar, rash, fever, and (on rare occasions) liver damage.

There are no known interactions between PABA and other nutrients. However, PABA interferes with sulfa drugs (a class of antibiotics) and therefore should not be taken when these medications are being used.


1. Wiesel LL et al. The synergistic action of para-aminobenzoic acid and cortisone in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Am J Med Sci 1951;222:243-248.
2. Sieve BF. The clinical effects of a new B-complex factor, para-aminobenzoic acid, on pigmentation and fertility. South Med Surg 1942(March);104:135-139.
3. Zarafonetis CJD. The treatment of scleroderma: results of potassium para-aminobenzoate therapy in 104 cases. In Mills LC, Moyer JH (eds.). Inflammation and Diseases of Connective Tissue, W. B. Saunders Co., 1961, p. 688-696.
4. Zarafonetis CJD et al. Retrospective studies in scleroderma: effect of potassium para-aminobenzoate on survival. J Clin Epidemiol 1988;41:193-205.
5. Grace WJ et al. Therapy of scleroderma and dermatomyositis. NY State J Med 1963;63:140-144.
6. Zarafonetis CJD. Treatment of Peyronie’s disease with potassium para-aminobenzoate. J Urol 1959;81:770-772.
7. Zarafonetis CJD, et al. Treatment of pemphigus with potassium para-aminobenzoate. Am J Med Sci 1956;231:30-50.
8. Zarafonetis CJD. Darkening of gray hair during para-amino-benzoic acid therapy. J Invest Dermatol 1950;15:399-401.


Copyright 1998 Virtual Health, LLC

The information presented in HealthNotes Online is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over-the-counter medication is also available. Consult your physician, nutritionally-oriented health care practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.