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Boric acid is a chemical substance with mild antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
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1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Insert vaginal suppositories containing 600 mg twice per day
Boric acid capsules inserted in the vagina have been used successfully as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections.
Boric acid capsules inserted in the vagina have been used successfully as a treatment for vaginal yeast infections. One study demonstrated that 85% of women who used boric acid vaginal suppositories were cured of chronic recurring yeast vaginitis.1 These women had all previously failed to respond to treatment with conventional antifungal medicines. The suppositories, which contained 600 mg of boric acid, were inserted vaginally twice a day for two weeks, then continued for an additional two weeks if necessary. Boric acid should never be swallowed.
Refer to label instructions
Boric acid has antiviral activity and has been shown to shorten the duration of cold sores.
Boric acid has antiviral activity. In a double-blind trial, topical application of an ointment containing boric acid (in the form of sodium borate) shortened the duration of cold sores by about one-third.2 However, concerns about potential toxicity have led some doctors to avoid the use of boric acid for this purpose.
How It Works
How to Use It
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.
Where to Find It
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 is not taken internally and is not a nutrient; no deficiency exists.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
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.3 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.”4 However, in more recent research, no serious side effects were reported when boric acid was used as a treatment for vaginitis.
1. Jovanovic R, Congema E, Nguyen HT. Antifungal agents vs. boric acid for treating chronic mycotic vulvovaginitis. J Reprod Med 1977;36:593-7.
2. Skinner GRB, Hartley CE, Millar D, Bishop E. Possible treatment for cold sores. Br Med J 1979;2:704.
3. Penna RP, Corrigan LL, Welsh J, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1979, 424 [review].
4. Penna RP, Corrigan LL, Welsh J, et al. Handbook of Nonprescription Drugs, 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Pharmaceutical Association, 1979, 424 [review].
Last Review: 10-17-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.