Para-aminobenzoic acid (paba)
Para-aminobenzoic acid, an integral part of the vitamin B complex, is water-soluble and is considered unique in that it is a "vitamin within a vitamin," occurring in combination with folic acid.31 PABA is found in liver, yeast, wheat germ, and molasses.
PABA stimulates the intestinal bacteria, enabling them to produce folic acid, which in turn aids in the production of pantothenic acid. As a coenzyme, PABA functions in the breakdown and utilization of proteins and in the formation of blood cells, especially red blood cells. PABA plays an important role in determining skin health, hair pigmentation, and health of the intestines. PABA acts as a sunscreen and is incorporated into some sunscreen ointments.
PABA is stored in the tissues but is manufactured by friendly bacteria in the intestines if conditions in the intestines are favorable.
The need for PABA in human nutrition has not yet been established. PABA is available in supplements in potencies higher than 30 milligrams, but these higher doses are used for therapeutic purposes. Continued ingestion of high doses of PABA is not recommended and can be toxic to the liver, heart, and kidneys. Symptoms of toxicity are nausea and vomiting.
Deficiency Effects and Symptoms
A deficiency of PABA may result from the use of sulfa drugs. Because sulfas resemble PABA in structure, they kill the intestinal bacteria by substituting for the PABA they need. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, irritability, depression, nervousness, headache, constipation, and other digestive disorders.
Beneficial Effect on Ailments
PABA is used in treating vitiligo, a condition characterized by depigmentation of some areas of the skin. PABA is used in treating some parasitic diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever. In certain laboratory animals, PABA, when combined with pan-tothenic acid, has helped restore color to hair that was turning gray and has prevented further graying. Research continues as to whether PABA has this effect on human hair. According to Adelle Davis, the administration of PABA and folic acid has restored graying or white hair to its natural color. A daily intake of folic acid and PABA should be continued so that the restored hair is prevented from returning to its previous color. PABA often soothes the pain of burns even more
effectively than vitamin E. PABA ointment has been effective in preventing and treating sunburn. Persons normally susceptible to sunburn have been able to remain many hours in the sun after applying PABA ointment. PABA alleviates the pain of sunburn and other burns immediately. Adelle Davis has stated that PABA ointment may delay old-age skin changes such as wrinkles, dry skin, and dark spots.
Dr. Carl Pfeiffer reports that large doses of PABA, 2 grams per day, have been used with good results in schizophrenia. He speculates that PABA may prevent certain amines from forming hallucinogens.