Parabens : Friend or Foe?

Paraben Paranoia

 Contrary to popular misbelief, parabens are not diabolical chemical poisons invented by mad scientists to inflict havoc on human health.

 Parabens have direct correlates in nature. In fact, all plants produce p-hydroxybenzoic acid, albeit in small quantities.

Well-known plants known to significantly synthesise parabens as defensive chemicals against attack by micro-organisms include carrot, olive, cucumber, honeysuckle and ylang ylang.

The preservatives used in Gaia creams (not in the liquids or lotions) are 100% nature identical, as consumed by millions of people in natural foods, such as tubers, herbs, fungi and fruit.

Plants known to synthesise Methyl paraben include Birthwort Guan pepper Thale cress Plants known to synthesise Propyl paraben include Verticillium spp, [filamentous fungi that inhabit decaying vegetation and soil (read “organic” produce)]

The oestrogenic activity of methl- and propyl- parabens are so ‘weak’ that few scientists have even mentioned it, so much so that as risk factors, these have been off the scientific radar for several years now.

It is difficult to understand why they are still a pariah, other than ignorance or deliberate malicious commercial agendas, as attested to by the fact that the following foods have ‘potent’ oestrogenic activity, is never mentioned:

alfalfa, almonds, anise, apple, banana, barley, broccoli, cabbage, canola, cauliflower, carrot, cherry, chickpea; clover, coffee, corn, cumin, damiana, fennel, flaxseed, garlic, green bean, hop, lemon, lemon balm, licorice, lima beans, mint, oats, oregano, pea, pinto beans, pomegranate, plum, potato, rice, rice bran, rye, rape, sage, sesame, soybean, split pea, sunflower seed, thyme, turmeric, verbena, wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ, yam & yeast. Included are the oils of olive, corn, safflower, wheat germ, soya, rice bran, peanut and coconut.

References :

  1. 1.        Vitamin P et al, Plant Physiol, 136(4), 2004


  1. 2.        (Bach M et al, Plant Physiol, 103(2), 1993); (Aziz N et al, Microbios 93(374), 1998); Smith-Becker J et al, Plant Physiol, 116(1), 1998); (Dweck A, “Natural Preservatives”, Cosmet Toilet, Aug 2003).
  2. (Aristolochia kankauensis) (Wu T et al, Phytochem, 36(4), 1994);
  3. (Piper guanacastensis) (Pereda-Miranda R et al, J Nat Prod, 60(3), 1997); Coprophilous fungus (Guanomyces polythrix) (Macias M et al, J Nat Prod, 63(6), 2000);
  4. (El Aissama A, Mycopathologia, 144(2), 1999) and Mango (Mangifera indica) (Chirawut B, Sangchote S, 15th Australasian Plant Pathology Society Conference, Deakin University, Geelong, 26-29 September, 2005).
  5. (Sob M, Naturally Occurring Estrogens, in CRC Handbook of Naturally Occurring Food Toxicants, Miloslav R (Ed), CRC Press, 1983); (Davis D & Bradlow H, Sci Amer, Oct 1995); (Davis D et al, Nature Sci Med, May/June 1997); (Zava D et al, Proc Soc Exp Biol Med, 217(3), 1998);  (Piersen C, Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2(2), 2003).
  1. (Arabidopsis thaliana) (Walker T et al, J Agric Food Chem, 51, 2548, 2003) and Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) (Pal Bais H et al, Plant Physiol Biochem, 41(4), 2003).