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I want to address some things about Vitamin B-5. I have plenty of questions myself about it, but I've been doing some research. here are the issues I want to discuss:

  • Why does acne usually happen in puberty/adolescence?
  • Why do we get breakouts when we're stressed?
  • What is the cause of adult acne, especially in those who had no acne as a teen?
  • How long are we gonna have to take these millions of pills just to keep our skin clear?
  • Why does B5 have no side effects while Accutane has many, if they both are taken internally to stop your skin from producing so much oil?


Look at this chart i made in Illustrator:



The key to answering all these questions is right there in the middle: Coenzyme-A. B5 is the crucial ingredient; it's absolutely necessary for CoA synthesis.

PUBERTY
CoA is a multi-purpose coenzyme, arguably the most important coenzyme in your body. Those three processes (fatty-acid metabolism, sex hormone production, and glucocorticoid production) are ideally balanced, but when you hit puberty, your CoA "pool" is greatly depleted. This is because the body has to make a choice between two metabolic processes, and because the clear evolutionary choice for continuation of the species is dependent on the sex organs, the body doesn't hesitate to allot most of the CoA to hormone production. This results in a buildup of fat in the pores (the pores enlarge because they're overstuffed with fat) and an increase in oil production. Bam! Hello acne.

STRESS
So why do we often experience breakouts when we're under some kind of stress? Well, B5 is also essential for glucocorticoids, which are produced by the adrenal gland as part of the fight-or-flight response (faster heartbeat, sweaty palms, etc. --general tension as a result of extended periods of stress). Back in the day when humans were chasing predators or fleeing from prey, the boost of adrenalin etc. was top priority if they were to survive to see another day. Thus, glucocorticoid production also takes precedence over fatty-acid metabolism, and you have a bunch of new pimples.

ADULT ACNE
Adult acne primarily is seen in women. With each period a woman has, a significant amount of CoA is depleted due to hormone production. If this is not replaced, a deficiency can develop slowly over many years; hence, one cause of adult acne. And one reason adult acne seems to be more common these days is the fact that more and more women are working and leading stressful lives.

HOW LONG?
So how long are we going to have to take B5? Hopefully not forever.... The idea is, once we've fully replenished the B5/CoA pool, theoretically we should either be fine or just need a small maintenance dose. Depends upon which of the above categories you are in...a 20 year old guy like me will hopefully not have to take any more after 6 months or so...but who knows. If you're a 20/30/40 something woman, well after the inital treatment, you ought to only need a small dose for a week or something at that time of month. This is really just speculation on my part...

The reason B5 has no side effects is because it is a vitamin that acts through natural metabolic pathways. Simple as that. Very few of us have even experienced the one side effect from such a high dose (diarrhea) because our bodies need every bit of B5! If we were "normal" people without acne (and presumably without a B5 deficiency), then we probably would get diarrhea from such a high dose because the body wouldn't need it and would try to excrete it ASAP.

As far as Accutane, well, look at the chart: it bypasses all of the normal body processes in favor of an artificial mechanism, a way of forcing the sebacaeous glands to produce less, not allowing them to do so-- Accutane is often described as damaging the glands, not repairing them. Even Accutane's creators don't know how it works at the basic level:

Chemically, isotretinoin is 13-cis-retinoic acid and is related to both retinoic acid and retinol (vitamin A). Isotretinoin is a retinoid, which when administered in pharmacologic dosages of 0.5 to 2.0 mg/kg/day, inhibits sebaceous gland function and keratinization. The exact mechanism of action of Accutane is unknown.

Well, hope this was helpful. It certainly is the best explanation for why so many of us are seeing such amazing and fast results with Vitamin B-5. My main source for this information (it's just a theory, really) is Leung's 1995 paper "Pantothenic Acid in the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Medical Hypothesis" read it!

[This message has been edited by tommy jojo (edited 01-19-2001).]

[This message has been edited by tommy jojo (edited 01-19-2001).]






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