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Boric Acid

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Boric acid is a chemical substance with mild antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties.

Where is it found?

Boric acid is a white, odorless powder or crystalline substance that is available in many over-the-counter pharmaceutical products for topical use, alone as a topical antiseptic, and in suppository form.

Boric acid has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns
2Stars

Yeast infection

1Star

Cold sores

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Boric acid is not taken internally and is not a nutrient; no deficiency exists.

How much is usually taken?

Boric acid is available in powder form from a pharmacy, without a prescription. This powder can be packed into an empty gelatin capsule and used as a suppository. For women with vaginitis, some doctors recommend that one such capsule, containing 600 mg of boric acid, be inserted into the vagina each night for two weeks. Some health food stores have suppositories that contain a combination of boric acid and herbs.

In the trial studying cold sores, an ointment diluted to 4% boric acid was applied four times per day. Because of the potential toxicity of such a preparation, people should consult their doctors before using boric acid.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

Boric acid suppositories should not be used during pregnancy. Boric acid is very toxic when taken internally and should also never be used on open wounds. When boric acid enters the body, it can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, kidney damage, acute failure of the circulatory system, and even death. In the past, boric acid was used as a topical treatment for infants with diaper rash. However, even in diluted (3%) form it caused significant toxicity and two deaths.1 Therefore, boric acid should not be applied to the skin of infants and small children. In fact, experts in the field have stated, “The minor therapeutic value of this compound, in comparison with its potential as a poison, has led to the general recommendation that it no longer be used as a therapeutic agent.”2 However, in more recent research, no serious side effects were reported when boric acid was used as a treatment for vaginitis.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with boric acid.

References:

1. Penna RP, Corrigan LL, Welsh J, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1979, 424 [review].

2. Penna RP, Corrigan LL, Welsh J, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1979, 424 [review].

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