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Thoughts on Vitamin B5? Does it work?

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I am new to this site...just found it tonight. My background: I am considering Accutane but deathly afraid of some of the side effects. I suffer from cystic acne and have been dealing with it for 5 years. I am a 31 year old professional and am tired of these emotional rollercoasters that I ride when a cyst pops up. My husband doesn't understand what I go through and is not supportive of me taking Accutane. I recently decided I'm going to do it. But, I've been searching message boards on acne/Accutane/other remendies, and I think there are a few more options for me to try first. I have been using Clean&Clear's Salycilic Acid for several months and while that helps some, it doesn't prevent the cysts from coming. The past 2 weeks have been really, really bad - I've had more cysts at once than I have ever had.

I've read on different message boards that Vitamin B5 helps a lot. I am interested in your comments on this and would be appreciative if you could reply. Thank you.

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Hi Marietta1.

I took B5 at roughly 8.5g per day for a few months and am now on a dosage of 1-1.5g per day. I'm considering stopping as my skin is almost clear (almost clear of active acne but a helluva lot of red marks) and it is a very expensive regimen to maintain. Another reason is that there isn't enough research done on this and I'm concerned about the long term effects of overdosing on b5. It works wonderfully for a lot of people but there seems to also be an equal amount that it does nothing for. There is no way of guaranteeing which category you'll fall in. If you really want to try it, watch out for these possible side effects which I'm sure you've read about before:

1. Make sure you take it with food or you'll get an upset stomach

2. Prepare for a biggish breakout in the first few weeks (I got it in the very first week I took it and it was bad)

3. Hairloss - this seems to be rare but it has been reported on some boards.

4. You will get very dry skin in the long run if you don't take a b-complex with it as overdosing on one b vitamin results in a deficiency of the others.

5. One good thing it does was noticable within the first 24 hrs to me - oil production was considerably reduced.

I wouldn't attribute it solely responsible for helping my skin though. I started Dan's regimen 2 weeks after B5 so I'm more inclined to say that they both had a part to play. I also tried to cut out refined sugars from my diet a while back and that helped a bit but I then got swayed by some of the members on this board that diet doesn't affect acne and have given up on that (although I did feel very healthy and relaxed for six weeks). I added salicyclic acid to my routine recently and that made a difference.

However, I was still consistently breaking out with cysts on my cheeks and chin. So, taking advice from these boards, I forced myself to sleep on my back only and it made a major difference. My chin was the worse area as it was one cyst on top of another every few days and something so simple as keeping the bedsheet away from my chin stopped this sequence dead in its tracks! Believe me, I started this 2 weeks ago and I have since had only one weak attempt at a cyst which was gone in a day. I've also changed my washing powder as well.

To get back on subject: my gut feeling is that I don't feel B5 alone would clear me but taking it combined with all these topicals certainly helped. Back when I first discovered B5, I was getting 3-4 pimples a day. I'm at the stage where only have 3 active spots maximum on my face at a time. I'd probably be satisfied with this level if it weren't for the red marks which makes it look 10 times worse. I've stopped using clay masks and facial scrubs (If you're using salicyclic acid then there is no need for these). As for Dan's regimen, I'm only using a thin layer of benzoyl peroxide now and it's much gentler for my skin. smile.gif

Hope that helped and good luck!

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Thank you for the reply. All your comments are helpful and interesting. I have a few questions...You say you are on 8.5g's a day for B5 - I'm not sure I understand this! I've searched Yahoo for B5 and what I find usually are bottles for 250mg 100 pills or 500mg 100 pills. How do you get down to 8.5mg?

I haven't actually heard of any B5 side effects but did read somewhere that too much of one B vitamin depletes the other B's...

Can you give me advice on where you purchased your B5? I've looked in your standard drugstores but no one seems to carry this particular vitamin. Also, I have not tried the "regimen" mainly because I have tried BP in the past and it doesn't prevent the cysts from coming. My first derm told me I was getting the cysts due to stress...I moved to a new city, started a new job, got engaged, etc. Five years later, I'm noticing they come up during the mentstrual cycle so I'm considering the pill hoping that will help control my hormones, etc. Any recommendations on this (assuming you are female)??

Thank you again.

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8.5g, not 8.5mg - in other words, massively overdosing. I wouldn't use nearly so much. My doctor said too much B5 can do harm. So I'm waiting to see how other things work before trying B5, and if I do try it, I'll use smaller doses.

As for birth control, try it! For a lot of women, it does wonders. But be warned, so types will make your skin worse, and some will break you out badly for up to four months before you adjust to it and start clearing up.

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AliasJaneDoe, everyone who asks their doctor will get the same response. I'd say the same thing too if I were in their position. The longterm harm (if any) of taking b5 is currently unknown as no studies have been done. It IS better to be cautious - that's why I'm reluctant to say that it did any wonders for me and I'm reducing the dosage massively. Some people however don't need such a big dose - they can find that 2g works for them. But it is also important to remember that for some it didn't work and there are others who claim of serious side effects.

For Marietta1, yes, it is grams and not milligrams - that is why no doctor will recommend it. The dose that was actually used in the study that started it all is 10g. This is it:


This is the only study so far done into B5 and acne and it was done a while ago back in 1997.

This is the page that alerted everyone's attention to it:


I try to take some of things he says with a pinch of salt.

I did a lot more reading on-line before I decided to try it out and I strongly suggest you do the same thing as well before you make your decision. B5 is more commonly known as 'pantothenic acid' which is why you are not finding much when you look up 'B5'. Most of us that have tried it get it in powder form or 500mg caplets. You will have a hard time finding 500g on the shelf though there are some shops that do stock it.

A site to read on testimonials:


This isn't a list of people raving about how good it is - the views are varied and different brands, dosage, time period taken, and side effects are stated.

This b5 diary is a good read but bear in mind that it is only one person's experience:


there are other views on b5 at that site as well so have a look around.

Also check out the personal regimen logs forum on this site.

Two other good acne forums thrown in:



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In answer to your questions, I started out with the 500mg time release tablets from Holland & Barrett (I think most people in the uk did) but it's much cheaper to order it online and I got mine from a few different sites.

I haven't tried birth control before. The only medications I'd tried previously were Dalacin T, Benzamycin and Minocin mr. I found Minocin messed up my body after 6 months after I seemingly began to clear up a bit. It gave me huge whiteheads while I was on it and you know the rest about killing all the good bacteria in your body. That was the last precription I got as I felt so frustrated with the doctors and then I found B5. B5 eventually led me to reading all the boards and then finding acne.org and many other invaluable sources on treating acne.

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Thank you for your comments. Elly, especially to you for the links and added information. I just read one of the articles and then ordered my first bottle of B5...I hope to begin my pill popping in a few days !!

I have done a lot of online investigating about cystic acne but it was only when I found the message boards that I was flooded with information. This is where I learned about B5, Spiro, etc. Thank goodness for the message boards!

I hope the B5 works for me because I really don't want to try Accutane but I've gotten to a point in my life where I have to do something. Several acne-related articles tell you acne causes self-esteem issues and depression and I have experienced that first hand. Every month when the cysts break out I struggle with my image. If B5 doesn't work, Accutane will be next. Wish me luck.

Thank you again, everyone, for your feedback.

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here. let me save you guys some serious cash. i'm a fitness nut and buy a ton of supplements www.beyond-a-century.com ; it is a great site for cheap supplements. you can get 250 GRAMS of B5 powder for $8.75. then you can cap these by ordering a capping kit at www.cap-m-quik.com ; worked great for me (although i don't use the kit to cap B5, i use it for r-ALA and biotin).

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I agree with your post, njacobs, to some extent. I too wish for more research into this and can only speculate as to why there isn't. I saw someone post a reply he/she got from Dr Leung at clearskin.net but unfortunately he didn't mention anything about a follow on study.

Good luck, Marietta1. Hope it works for you and don't keep away from the boards. Let us know how it goes.

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Be wary of B5....

As for birth control, I went on OrthoTriCyclen (the one marketed to reduce moderate acne), and while it did clear up my blackheads and whiteheads and prevent PMS (and those specific acne flareups), I have since started getting cysts on my cheeks. I don't think the cysts were caused by the BC because I got them about the same time or before I went on the pill (and these effects usually take time), BUT I think the point is that the Ortho has not helped the cysts. I did find, though, that I didn't need to be on Tazorac while I was on BC, especially since it didn't help with cysts anyway... There are other pills besides Ortho which are supposed to work better. One is Diane and there's another one which I can't remember. I'm thinking of switching, but ever since I read about Seasonale, it's all I want to try! Just imagine: 4 periods/year!!! Besides birth control, there are some herbal remedies, especially for the pre-menstrual flare-ups. Anyway, good luck to you.

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I've been using b5 for about two and a half years. I take 16- 20g a day. It worked fantastically for me in the beginning, and but I began breaking out some about a year later. I wouldn't automatically accept this as my body growing a tolerance. I'm a firm believer that acne is affected by diet, and my diet has become progressively less healthy. It's hard for me to not "cheat" and eat greasy/ refined foods, especially since I began going to the gym. My lifestyle doesn't allow me to pack healthy lunches etc., so I'm breaking out. I'm taking too many pills to still be breaking out the little bit that I am, so I'm taking some accutane. I would totally recommend b5 for anyone though. PM me if you have any questions- I've been taking it for so long now that I probably have some useful incites. A few other things:

-I heard about b5 on www.healthboards.com. They have very strict posting guidelines so I think I'm going to make the switch to acne.org.

-I'm VERY frustrated about the lack of follow-up studies done that examine b5 and acne, b5 and megadosing, long term health effects of b5, development of a concentrated b5 to avoid so many pills. My theory about the lack of research concerning the drug is that pharm companies haven't heard about b5 yet, or are avoiding it because they don't want to popularize the effectiveness of a supplement that they cannot market. Why aren't they working on a b5 concentrate? I have no idea. Perhaps they are, but probably not.

-I recently went to my doctor and informed her that I am taking 16-20g of pantothenic acid a day. She did some blood work to see if my liver has been affected in any way by the megadosing- keep in mind, I've been on the stuff for two and a half years. The tests revealed that my liver is fine. There is research out there examining the toxicity of b5, and everything points to the water solubility of the vitamin as evidence that it is non-toxic- even at high doses.

Well, take care everyone, and feel free to ask any questions.

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