Vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid, has slowly become a popular alternative for treating acne. In facts, it’s up there on the list with Accutane, antibiotics, laser therapy, and topical ointments.
Before deciding to take vitamin B5 myself, I spent several months doing my research. If you look on the internet, you can find all kinds of information out there all about vitamin B5 and how it relates to acne. I spent my time on various acne related forums and blog posts, learning about other people’s experiences with vitamin B5, weighing the pros and cons before taking it for myself.
But I didn’t stop there on my research. I read many scientific articles and publications related to pantothenic acid and how it can help people that have acne prone skin. I especially favored Dr. Jeffrey Dach’s and Dr. Lit-Hung Leung’s papers on these topics.
After doing lots of research, I finally decided to give pantothenic acid a try to see if it would help me with my acne. After taking vitamin B5 for 6 months and having done all the research on it, now I want to share my knowledge and experience with you so that you can learn a thing or two and decide for yourself if taking vitamin B5 for your acne is the right thing for you.
What is pantothenic acid?
To fully understand what pantothenic acid is, we’ll need to dive deep into the science of it all.
Pantothenic acid is more popularly known as vitamin B5 and is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found in just about all foods. In fact, the word itself, which was coined by R.J. Williams, is derived from the Greek pantos, which literally means “everywhere”. Not only is this vitamin found in many foods, but it also has many functions in the body. It plays a role in our energy production, protein, and fat synthesis, and is essential in the growth and regeneration of different types of cells. But most importantly, pantothenic acid is a highly needed component of Coenzyme-A (CoA).
But what is Coenzyme-A? Well, it’s an enzyme made up of three components – pantothenic acid, ATP, and cysteine. At a cellular level, it’s used for diverse biochemical cellular reactions. But the important thing that you need to know is that it is mainly responsible for breaking down fat. This is called fatty acid oxidation.
Our bodies naturally produce ATP and cysteine on its own, but we have to get pantothenic acid from the things we eat. This means that although traces of this vitamin are found in many foods, we could still become deficient in it. Without enough, pantothenic acid, our bodies can’t make enough CoA.
And when our bodies lack CoA, it can’t break down fat correctly like it’s supposed to. Healthy lipid metabolism is hindered, which means that our bodies are forced to get rid of the excess fats in some other way. The result is secreting excess oil through the oil glands found on the skin. This type of oil is called sebum, and it clogs the pores, causing acne.
Is pantothenic acid an effective acne cure?
The idea of using pantothenic acid as a cure for acne is still a relatively new idea and has not yet been approved. Few studies have been done to test how effective this necessary vitamin is on treating acne. There are two visible clinical trials that have been done to test its effectiveness on acne.
One study done by Yang et al. (2014), showed fairly promising results. The study was randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled, and the subjects were those with mild to moderate facial acne. The results showed that not only is this essential vitamin well-tolerated and safe, but it was also effective in reducing the number of acne lesions on the face after 12 weeks of use.
Another clinical trial to test pantothenic acid with acne was done by Caprodice (2012), and again, this vitamin proved to be feasible, tolerable, safe, and effective. The number of facial acne lesions was reduced for those with mild to moderate acne when they took B5 as a dietary supplement.
The problem with pantothenic acid as a treatment for acne is that although the few trials that have been done on it have been potentially promising, none of them really had a big enough sample size. One trial had 51 subjects, and the other only had 11. This just isn’t enough to guarantee that everyone with acne will achieve the same results when they take vitamin B5. More clinical research needs to be done in order to confirm the full potential of pantothenic acid and move forward in finding a real cure for acne.
There are also many reviews online regarding the effectiveness of pantothenic acid as a cure for acne. Some say they were successful in curing their acne by simply taking vitamin B5. Others, on the other hand, claim that they did not have the same fortunate results. On average, most users said that vitamin B5 was only effective for a short time.
This, along with other results found on pantothenic acid and acne, has led the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database to remain inconclusive as to whether or not pantothenic acid is effective in treating skin problems. They state that there is insufficient evidence to even rate its effectiveness. Hopefully, with more time and research, more will be revealed as to whether or not vitamin B5 can help relieve people of their acne.
Advantages and disadvantages of using pantothenic acid for acne
Just like every other substance that you put in your body, pantothenic acid has its share of pros and cons. The most obvious benefit of taking this vitamin is that it prevents you from a deficiency of it. But it also helps properly break down fat in the body by supporting the biological process of Coenzyme-A.
Another potential benefit of this vitamin could be clearer skin. As mentioned before, certain studies have found that pantothenic acid could be effective in relieving people of acne. The problem though is that in order for it to actually work, vitamin B5 would have to be taken in very large amounts.
Dr. Lit-Hung Leung, the most popular doctor that deals with vitamin B5 in relation to acne, was the one to recommend megadosing B5 in order to receive its benefits. He suggests up to 10 grams of vitamin B5 a day for acne, but there are many skeptics that disagree.
To begin with, Dr. Leung’s paper about pantothenic acid has not been published as a research work, but instead, only as a hypothesis paper. On top of that, he has a US patent for an acne treatment that uses vitamin B5, which leads many to believe that his motivations are based on making money, not finding a real acne cure. In addition to that, the only two studies on the use of vitamin B5 for curing acne were done as independent studies, and both were sponsored by companies that sell vitamin B5 products. This could have easily made the results somewhat or completely biased, and not trustworthy.
There are a few advantages that you’ll receive if you take pantothenic acid.
> You won’t have to worry about being deficient in vitamin B5.
> Taking B5 helps produce Coenzyme-A, which helps with a healthy fat breakdown.
> This vitamin is readily available.
These are really the only advantages of this vitamin that we know of. When it comes to treating acne with pantothenic acid, there is still a lot more to find out and test.
Now we’ll look at the disadvantages of taking pantothenic acid.
> Using pantothenic acid as a cure for acne has not yet been medically approved.
> There are only 2 clinical trials that actually managed to prove the effectiveness of B5 on acne.
> We do not know the long-term effects of using pantothenic acid.
> B5 would need to be taken in mega doses in order to treat acne with it.
> We don’t know how mega doses of B5 affect us.
My experience taking pantothenic acid for acne
I was a little nervous to try pantothenic acid because I’d heard a lot of scary things about the side effects of taking it in mega doses. This intimidating list included chronic fatigue syndrome, hair loss, and joint problems. To avoid the possibility of these nasty long-term effects, I simply started out on pantethine. Pantethine is essentially a more active form of pantothenic acid. The body is able to break it down easier, so you don’t need to take it in such high doses to get its effects.
So I started taking 300mg 3 times a day, which came out to 900mg a day, as was the recommendation in Dr. Dach’s papers. The result was not as promising as I’d hoped. To sum it all up, taking pantothenic acid did not clear my skin and make me “acne free” as I’d hoped. I did see some slight improvements, but not enough to claim that vitamin B5 was the wonder cure. Plus, these improvements were so small that it could have easily been the placebo effect. Perhaps my hopes for pantothenic acid to work allowed me to be less stressed, and that could have been why I saw minor improvements, not from the vitamin.
There were also times when I was taking vitamin B5 that I would actually get more unexplained breakouts than normal. I also had to deal with side effects such as dry eyes and lips. I thought this might be due to the drying effect where the oils were being broken down, but the acne never got better afterward. All in all, pantothenic acid was not worth the trouble, as it did not work for me as a cure for my acne.
There is no science out there yet that proves that pantothenic acid works as a cure for acne. Dr. Leung’s recommendations for using vitamin B5 for acne are simply based on his own theories and hypotheses. That means that there is no real evidence to support whether or not vitamin B5 could help with acne.
There are many people out there that claim to have experienced relief from their acne by taking large amounts of vitamin B5. There are also a few studies that support this claim too. But further tests still need to be conducted to really find out how pantothenic acid affects the skin.
Everyone is different and reacts differently to certain things, so pantothenic acid might be right for you. Some people claim to get relief from their acne, while others like myself had no such luck. It’s important to take caution when trying something like pantothenic acid, as there is not much that is known about it. You could be putting yourself at a risk of negative long-term effects, and for me, it’s just not worth the risk!