Author’s note: Sometime between the publication of this article (December 2015) and April 2018, Axe’s manufacturer quietly changed the formulation and relabeled the product reviewed here. Axe has repeatedly ignored requests for comment since I wrote this piece, including blocking me on his social media pages, so I’m unable to say when the changes took place. The screen snapshots of the product/ingredient labels stand testament to what was being sold. I leave this article, with this correction, as a record of what took place. In the meantime, Axe continues to sell products that contain the same ingredients he claims are harmful. Just type his name in the search box in the upper right corner of BadScienceDebunked.com and enjoy the reading. — Mark Alsip, 04 Apr 2018, Lexington, KY
Original article follows:
When we last visited our good friend Josh Axe, he was hard at work selling antimatter-laden miracle dirt to unsuspecting customers, with the claim it would sweep toxins out of their bodies while simultaneously delivering vital nutrients. (Yes, I was confused too.)
Today I’d like to take a look at another product being peddled by “Dr.” Axe. If you read to the end, I can guarantee you’ll be outraged. The hypocrisy could not be more blatant.
The topic of the day–and don’t be scared by the long words–is para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA). Let’s start off with Josh Axe giving us a quick backgrounder on PABA:1
“A recent study published in Environmental Science Technology has also shown the common sunscreen ingredients oxybenzone, methoxycinnamate, and PABA are estrogenic chemicals linked to cancer. That’s right, I read the labels on not only my food products, but on anything I’m putting on or near my body, and you should too.” 1
(Emphasis mine.) So PABA is an “estrogenic chemical linked to cancer”, Josh? Hold that thought, and let’s go shopping at draxe.com. You might want to put on some older clothing. This is going to get messy.
Here’s a nice vitamin B supplement:2
If you’ve read my blog before, having seen me highlight Josh’s disdain for PABA followed by a screen snapshot of a product he’s selling, you’ve probably guessed where this article is heading. You won’t be disappointed. Time to have a look-see at what’s actually in the supplement Axe is hawking:2
Oh, good grief… this supplement contains PABA! Para-aminobenzoic acid. The cancer-causing boogeyman of Josh Axe’s nightmares: on sale now for only $39.99 on the Dr. Axe web site (you save $11.25!).
This would almost be comical if not for the fact that in the same sentence in which Axe attacked PABA, he said:
“That’s right, I read the labels on not only my food products, but on anything I’m putting on or near my body, and you should too.”1
So there you have it. Here’s a chiropractor/”natural medicine doctor” who warns his followers to avoid putting a chemical on their bodies due to cancer concerns, sells them that very same compound in a supplement they’re supposed to ingest, and in the same breath tells them he reads product labels to avoid putting dangerous product on or in his body.
The mind boggles.
Josh Axe product and website screen snapshots are used in strict compliance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”). This material is distributed without profit with the intent to provide commentary, review, education, parody, and increase public health knowledge.
Axe “look at that” parody by the author. Created and used under parody/education/public health knowledge provisions of Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 of United States copyright law (commonly known as “fair use law”).
(1) 75% of Sunscreens Are Toxic: What To Do Instead
(2) Dr. Axe Vitamin B Complex
Organic Vitamin B Complex
These articles are so incredibly valuable. I am so t-i-r-e-d of the fear-mongering that I am surrounded by, that I have already put my extended family on notice that should my hubby or I, or any of our children have the misfortune of dealing with cancer, that they are not to come to me with their version of research regarding the evils of chemo, doctors etc. As I age, (mid 40’s) I fear that I am losing my ability to remain polite while they natter on and on about conspiracy theories regarding TSA body scanners, vaccines, mammograms, microwaves and much more. Articles such as yours are definitely going to go a long way to helping me argue the case that the naturalpath/chiropractor world is as much in it for the money as Big Pharma is. Making money is fine, terrifying people into untruths in order to peddle your snake oil is not.
Also, can I just tell you how much I enjoy your writing style-I’m always so happy when I see that you’ve carved out the time to write another article! Thank you so much, for dumbing things down enough for even me to get a grasp on how ridiculous things have gotten in the alternative world.
Thank you for the kind words Suzanne. I’m like you, frustrated by the constant barrage of woo. The blog is my way of venting. It’s flattering that it’s also seen as helpful in some small way 🙂
Have you done your research properly , or anybody else out there? PABA is found naturally in liver, molasses, mushrooms, spinach, eggs, meats, milk and even whole grains. We are supposed to have it, since it is in particular foods. God designed it that way and designed us to have it. It’s Like other vitamins,minerals and supplements that you can OD on. Anything is bad for you if you eat or drink too much of it. This is only a concern for people if they ingest large amounts of it. This is not a large amount! If Dr. Axe had put it in as vitamin Bx, which is what it is called, then nobody would have thought otherwise. It is also found in folic acid, which we need. I agree that he may be charging a little much for his products,but he is a man of integrity and a man of God. I have indirectly known him for several years and he has helped thousands of people heal and has saved lives. One being his own mother. She had stage 3 cancer and he strictly changed her diet. They decided against chemo, and within several months the cancer was completely gone!! If anybody wants to know more about this, it can easily be found on his website. http://www.draxe.com. You can also go to http://www.webmd.com . There, you will read the MANY things that PABA is used for to help different health issues. You cannot single out and isolate one particular thing that it is bad for and disregard the good that it does. You would have to consume way more than 12 grams per day to even POSSIBLY cause harm. This product contains 5 mg. Are we to just do away with everything that could possibly cause harm to us? Better definitely then, do away with chemo, radiation and even WATER because you can OD on that, too! Think about it people!!!!
Hello Lena, thank you for commenting. I am not the one claiming PABA is dangerous–Dr. Axe is. Please read the referenced material carefully. It is he who claims it is dangerous and then sells it in his products.
I have not read his article on that as of yet. But I know him well enough to know that he was more than likely talking about people taking too high of doses and people, especially children have been known to ingest sun lotions that include PABA. Some have died from it, some were very ill and recovered. And yes, it had been determined that PABA was the culprit. As I said before, we can overdose on ANYTHING, even very healthy foods—and even water! As I said before, anything above 12 GRAMS is overdosing and his product only has 5 mg. Why would you want to stir up dissension about him when his product is very safe? You can very easily ruin someone’s name and reputation with something so trivial. All his products are of the highest quality and safe. They may be pricey, but then high quality is. Look at Mercedes-Benz, Lincoln, etc!!
Just advise people to maybe do their own research on PABA or anything else you might question, so they can determine their own conclusions. Or even give them an unbiased opinion or your own research online for people who don’t have the time.
Possibly, he may have done more intense research about it since his warnings that you say, and determined that it is very safe in moderate doses just as anything else is, too.
He has an immaculate reputation for being honest, compassionate and having a sincere heart for helping people to eat correctly, exercise and live without diseases. If you had a problem with him, then that is where you should have gone, is to Josh himself to share what you know, to bring correction with respect for his great knowledge, experience and reputation. THAT is the PROFESSIONAL way of handling it….not by trying to drag him thru the mud. You might could have made a great friend and even done some work together, but you have thrown cold water on that opportunity. You must treat people as you wish to be treated and give someone the benefit of the doubt. If you knew him, then you would see how genuinely kind and respectful he would be to you as he is to everyone. You cannot build a good reputation by tearing down someone else’s. That is what you will be known for and not trusted.
No, actually, that isn’t what he says about PABA at all. I think you do yourself a great disservice by commenting in defense of something you haven’t read. He says:
This isn’t the only product he sells that he says is toxic, and he certainly doesn’t limit it to dosage. A great example are the heavy metals in the Bentonite Clay he pushes:
What amazes me is that so many alternative practitioners rant about the money making healthcare industry but charge ludicrous amounts for rubbish. I work at a breast cancer centre and I would like to shake every woman who decides against chemo and says she’ll try vit C injections instead……..
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I know, right? I’m working on a new article on Dr. Mercola; have been browsing his store quite a bit in the evenings. I am beyond shocked at the prices he’s charging for his snake oil. And people are paying it! Even sadder, as you pointed out, are the people avoiding real medicine in favor of that garbage 😦
Mercola absolutely needs to be taken down a notch. Natural News, as well
I think more folks need to see articles like this. Yes, I admit, I am very interested in “alternative” medicine, for some things, and CERTAIN things do work, if you use your brain properly.
The trouble is people dont use there brains. Mr. Joshy says PABA is bad. Mr. Joshy says buy my sh*t. It contains PABA. Nobody bothers to look at the label and are too busy flinging there money at him for this “miracle product” and even tho he says, read the label, they apparently dont bother, because if he sells it, it MUST be good. People need to learn to actually read stuff and try to figure out whats what.
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I watched about two minutes of a Dr Axe video before I asked Google for more sources. Good work. Thanks.
I’ve read about PABA extensively and all say that putting it ON your skin is quite different from ingesting it orally. Probably there are lots of good supplements you can take internally that would be harmful to put directly on your skin.
I do not personally react to PABA sunscreen but apparently about 4% of the population does. Also, high doses of PABA internally apparently can be dangerous….but then that would be true for most vitamins and minerals. I read of a doctor dying from vitamin A poisoning because he only ate carrots and drank carrot juice for months! Yet carrots have not been banned….yet….
What I wonder about is how they found that PABA–which apparently DOES protect the skin from carcinoma when applied topically, (according to my research)–causes other damage when applied topically? It seems weird that it would be so helpful on the skin in one way while apparently being damaging other ways. Was it given a bad rap maybe because it was a cheap effective sunscreen? I’ve just made my own sunscreen with PABA powder and am going to try it out! I don’t trust a lot of reasearch now that we know how wrong they were about so many things, like good fats and even salt!
BUT, Maybe we SHOULD be concerned if a supplement is supposedly good for us to ingest but harmful on the skin. Still, you wouldn’t want to put hot chili peppers on your skin! They can burn! As can garlic, mustard and probably many other things quite good for us to eat…..I don’t know!
I’m stunned that you would not ingest something a huckster swears is a carcinogen, but you would rub it on your body’s largest organ (the skin), where it can be absorbed. But such is the power of people like Axe. He sells products with ingredients he claims will kill you, and his followers seem to work overtime to invent reasons to support his “logic”. I’m sorry, as a scientifically literate American, I just don’t get it.
Hey Mark, how much is the pharmaceutical industry paying you to run this site? It’s astounding that you’re crapping on the world of nutrition that hardly has a record of hurting (let alone killing) human beings versus the pharmaceutical industry which has killed thousands upon thousands of people. Before you start deflecting by jumping on PABA, Dr. Axe or whoever else you’re getting paid to write BS on, answer my question and try to defend how pharmaceuticals have killed so many people. Defend its track record of safety vs the vitamin world. I’ll wait.
I’d love for a reply from you… what evidence do you have I’m being paid for anything? Seriously, let’s have an answer. When you can’t answer the claims being made (such as Axe selling PABA), it’s common to make up a conspiracy theory as you have. So, where’s your evidence?
Now, as for PABA, Axe claims it’s toxic, and it’s in the product he’s selling. You can read the label for yourself. There’s my evidence. Where’s yours?
Anxiously awaiting your answer.
haha, you did exactly as I expected which was deflect my question. I actually never claimed anything. If you go back and read my post, it was a question and not a statement. But to be blunt, yes I think you take money but alas I have no evidence. Maybe you can upload your tax returns and we can get to the bottom of that 😉
What’s funny about your crummy website is that I can see you literally scour whatever bits of information you can find to try and completely discredit all these voices on the internet that advocate for safer measures with food as well as the advancement of nutrition. You literally got nothing and remind me of an ambulance chaser. What’s even more funny is you’d only need to spend a fraction of your time to expose the dangers of the pharmaceuticals. But we don’t see you talking about them do we. I wonder why? Maybe if you were honest about your real agenda, we’d all know for sure what I already know. You’re a fraud plain and simple.
You still didn’t answer my question… your defender and savior, who rails as you do against the pharmaceutical industry (that has saved so many lives) SELLS A PRODUCT WITH THE SAME INGREDIENT HE SAYS WILL KILL YOU.
Maybe you missed that point so let me repeat it: Axe says PABA is toxic but he sells it. All of your alternative health heroes do this. That’s what I’m exposing. And since you’ve failed in you false claim I’m getting paid (I’m not), I’ll consider it withdrawn.
Now, how about reading the label on Axe’s product, read his article on PABA, and telling me about that PABA he’s selling?
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You’re a shill. Goodbye fraud
You know, there’s a photo of Axe’s label showing the PABA in the very article you commented on. You DID read the article, didn’t you?
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Just been reading the comments. Sadly, both pharmaceutical and alternative have their pros and cons… benefits and risks…
I used to be more on the extreme of alternative. Now I am learning that even the alternative has serious risks if not used properly.
It’s a complex matter and I think it is helpful to be talking about this to improve the pool of knowledge that we collectively have.
Adding a comment here, since I don’t know how to contact you directly. A friend posted the Mercola article about sunscreens. As an MD who follows the recs of the American Academy of Dermatology, I was of course able to quickly show him to be the quack that he is. But did you know he sells a “tanning oil” on his website? Yes indeed – similar to the old Coppertone frying pan type oils of the 70’s. Has coconut oil and few woo type ingredients, encouraging people to fry in the sun and bake their skin! Any “physician” who sells such an item on his website, let alone recommends it, should have his/her license revoked!
Oh wow! Thanks for the tip Readerrabbit! I was aware of a subset of woosters who claim “the more vitamin D the better” and actually preach going out unprotected, but I never realized Mercola was edging toward that camp. I will definitely check out his oil. It’s been a while since I’ve gone “shopping” on mercola.com, and I’m always looking for an excuse 🙂