The famous last resort acne drug containing Isotretinoin and known as Accutane was discontinued by its manufacturer Roche back in June 2009. But millions are still using Isotretinoin in other products and hoping to end their acne once and for all.
Hoffman La Roche sells the new-fangled Roaccutane, Cipla sells Isotroin, Mylan sells Amnesteen, and Teva sells Claravis. Sales of isotretinoin-based acne pills show no sign of slowing…
…but there are some statistics I think you should about: 92% of all Accutane users experience dry lips, 30% of all experience severe nosebleeds, and 52% experience excessively dry skin.
Those are just the mild side effects! Accutane is linked to birth defects, depression and even suicide in an ever expanding library of cases. These side effects generally subside once you stop using Accutane but in many cases they are permanent.
We’re going to discuss all those side effects in this article today. Before we continue I’ll make this clear – I don’t recommend that any acne patient uses Accutane. For every two happy acne patients there is always another who says “never again”.
Furthermore, there is a TON of lifestyle and dietary strategies which your doctor hasn’t even told you about. Avoiding wheat is fantastic for acne, lowering your carb intake can control oily skin, and just eating two Brail nuts per day can work wonders. You do NOT have to resort to dangerous drugs like Accutane.
Let’s get started:
Side effect 1# – pregnancy problems
Isotretinoin (Accutane) is the only drug developed globally so far that falls under the Federal Drugs Administration’s (FDA) category X. If you become pregnant while you’re on a course of Accutane you are virtually guaranteed to be damaging your baby and increasing its risk of birth defects. The FDA itself says that “If you are pregnant or may get pregnant, isotretinoin can cause birth defects, miscarriage, premature births, and death in babies”.
The problems are so severe that any patient prescribed Accutane must conform to the iPLEDGE system. You have to sign a form on the internet where you contractually state that you will not get pregnant during or immediately after your Accutane course, and if you do, the doctor is not held legally accountable for the baby’s guaranteed birth defect.
You’re forbidden to get pregnant for an entire month after ending Accutane. Henceforth you’re supposed to be safe, but many of Accutane’s side effects, particularly bowel problems, are known to persist. There’s always a chance that similarly to the FDA’s overly relaxed stance on trans-fat, refined sugar, BPA, and other evils in the past, they might underestimate the harm from Accutane.
If you have any intention of having a baby in the future, do NOT use Accutane.
Accutane might affect male reproduction as well. Officially there’s no evidence of that, but I have seen several horrific stories. There was one where Accutane caused a total loss of a guy’s libido; he had no interest in women whatsoever. Furthermore, he failed to regain his sex drive for years after the course ended.
Side effect 2# – depression
Accutane is notorious for causing depression. It seems like every month you can find a story in the media about a user who ultimately committed suicide after a course on the drug. Of course, you can’t guarantee that the victims didn’t have other mental problems as well, but in 2008, even the FDA issued a statement to doctors and consumers about the “depression, psychosis, and rarely suicidal thoughts and actions” resulting from Accutane.
It began in 1983 with isolated case studies emerging of mood changes occurring using Isotretinoin usage. Then in 2004, brain scans discovered that people taking Accutane suffered a 21 percent decrease in the activity of their orbitofrontal cortex. That’s a brain area known to constrain the symptoms of depression.
In 2012, a big scientific review was conducted on all the available papers examining Accutane’s effects on depression so far. They found a clear link: “The literature reviewed is consistent with associations of isotretinoin administration with depression and with suicide in a subgroup of vulnerable individuals”.
A similar study was conducted in 2015, and a similar result was found in 2015. Not only did the scientists find a link between depression and isotretinoin, they found that it could exaggerate the symptoms of psychosis and bipolar disorder in people predisposed to those diseases.
Hence, the FDA and doctors are taking action. Many pharmaceutical companies that sell the drug have strengthened the labelling to warn consumers about the risk of depression and mental problems…
…but all the fuss doesn’t mean the risk has gone away. This is biological depression we’re talking about; the kind where your actual neurotransmitters get out of whack. Say no to Accutane/Isotretinoin!
Side effect 3# – elevated cholesterol levels
Nobody wants elevated cholesterol and triglycerides; they’re one of the biggest risk factors behind cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. But research finds that Accutane gives you exactly that.
A study from 2006 found that a third of users taking Accutane developed elevated cholesterol levels and 40% developed high triglycerides. The study was large; it examined 13,772 acne patients ranging from age 13 to 50 across a timespan from March 1995 to September 2002. The same study also found elevated levels of liver enzymes in patients.
Doctors had always been aware of these side effects but they believed that they were confined to an extreme minority. That’s not the case; the scientists concluded that “the incidence of abnormally high serum lipid levels during isotretinoin treatment may be greater than previously estimated”.
Luckily, cholesterol tends to return normal relatively quickly, after a few weeks or months after you stop it. Nevertheless, after scouting websites looking for stories, elevated cholesterol is one I’ve come across a lot.
What’s more, an older study from 1997 examined the specific forms of lipids and found that HDL (good) cholesterol fell substantially, while it was the unhealthy LDL cholesterol that rose. In cardiovascular disease, it’s actually the ratio between HDL and LDL that’s most important, so this isn’t good news. The scientists seemed pleased with the results, but back when this study was conducted, the science on the importance of cholesterol ratios remained shrouded in darkness.
In my book, it is unbelievable that dermatologists are prescribing this drug when there are so many easier options. You can reduce acne massively within two or three days by slashing your sugar daily intake. I know that from experience. Yet that’s a strategy that most acne patients never get told by their doctors.
Side effect 4# – peeling skin
Accutane does help a large proportion of acne patients to get clear although at least 33% of patients have a major relapse soon after ending it. However it also gives your skin many side effects. Isotretinoin works its “wonders” because it is massively concentrated form of retinol (vitamin A).
As you’ll know if you’ve read my eBook Annihilate your Acne, vitamin A is a top acne nutrient and mainly helps by decreasing the activity of your sebaceous glands. In other words, it makes your skin far less oily. As Accutane delivers such a high dosage of synthetic vitamin A it too works by making your skin as dry as a desert…
…but often the results of that are not pretty. Many users complain of flaking, peeling skin and that skin is apparently very painful. Some also complain that their skin becomes so sensitive they can’t touch it with warm water. Many women were unable to put make up on their skin as the patches from Accutane were just too painful and raw.
The single most common cosmetic problem of all is dry and cracking lips. 92% of all patients experience them. They’re the body part most sensitive to the dryness induced by Accutane and in many cases, user’s lips begin to bleed badly.
A long time back I even read a story where a guy’s skin started peeling around the edge of his mouth. Eventually it got so bad that his mouth actually got wider by a couple of centimetres.
Side effect 5# – hair loss
Hair loss or hair thinning in particular is not documented by any studies on Accutane but it’s an extremely common testimonial. For example, I’ve seen one woman complaining that after originally having thick, heavy hair, she was left with only 25% left. What was left was thin and stringy. Apparently her hair grew back in two years but only ever to 50% of its original thickness.
There is the possibility that she was naturally losing her hair anyway and she just got confused. However another woman claimed that “my hair dried out badly and took years to recover”, another said that her hair became “straw-like and thin”. Thin and dry hair seems to be the common experience, just like how Accutane sucks the oil out of your skin and makes that dry.
Men have reported similar experiences. One 25 year old claimed that during the last six weeks of his Accutane course, his hair noticeably receded around corners. He ended the treatment and they regrew partially for three months. The growth then stalled and the corners remained noticeably thinner than before.
It’s possible of course, that this young man was losing his hair anyway as so many young guys do prematurely. However, it’s equally possible that Accutane was responsible, or that Accutane accelerated hair loss that would have otherwise occurred much later in life.
Another guy had “the worst hair sheds of my life”, another had “hair so dry it broke off at the scalp, and another “noticed hair just falling off”.
Side effect 6# – irritable bowel disorders
Roche, the manufacturer of the original Accutane and now the purveyor of Roaccutane, lost 9 out of the 13 lawsuits it faced between 2007 and 2012. In 2010 Roche was ordered to pay over $25 million in damages, and in 2012, it payed another $18 million. Why?
The payments when to former to Accutane users who developed inflammatory bowel disease as a result of the drug. Accutane is linked to all sorts of digestive disorders whether it be the standard inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammation of the large intestine.
The actor James Marshall who starred in the TV series Twin Peaks directed by David Lynch was one victim. He testified in court against Roche during a lawsuit in which he alleged that using Accutane had caused him to develop inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, his career was totally derailed. He had to stay in hospital for four whole months and he even had his colon removed.
Then you have this study. It examined isotretinoin and its health effects and chronicled the experiences of one female acne patient. She was 24 years old and took Accutane for 7 months to deal with a severe and persistent outbreak.
She started developing abdominal pain two months after starting therapy with 30mg of isotretinoin per day. After five months she experienced graphic diarrhoea which became bloody and full of mucous. She lost 10kg, developed iron deficiency anaemia and suffered from fatigue.
Furthermore, she had no medical history or previous experience of IBS. Her condition reportedly improved after quitting anaemia, but at the time of the study’s publication she was still in remission.
This is probably a girl who was happily informed by her local doctor that Accutane was a miracle cure with a few mild side effects that would probably never happen anyway. Instead of clear-skinned paradise though, she got led into this. Don’t let the same happen to you!
What do Crohn’s disease and IBS do to the body, on a more general basis? They can massively increase your chances of food intolerances, make absorption of nutrients extremely hard, and give you painful symptoms like nausea and constant burping after every meal. Obvious and severe symptoms include severe internal muscle spasms/cramps in the region of the pelvis, weight loss, diarrhoea, and vomiting.
It’s an unpleasant disease to have and contrary to popular belief it can be healed, but why develop it when there are alternatives to Accutane anyway?
Here’s the truth about Accutane right now. It may well clear your acne. You may well get lucky and experience no skin peeling, no depression, and no bowel problems. In fact, there’s a good chance that hopping aboard the Accutane train today will end your acne and you’ll live happily ever after…
…but Accutane is a gamble every time. It’s smart to take a calculated gamble or two to get ahead in life, but when the gamble has no reward it’s a fool errand. There’s no need to take Accutane, because you haven’t tried all the dietary and lifestyle strategies. Have you tried getting more zinc, vitamin E and vitamin D? Have you slashed your sugar intake dramatically yet? Is your diet carefully arranged to take advantage of the most nutritious fruits and vegetables?
If not, then excellent! The word Accutane doesn’t need to enter your head.
What’s more, by deciding to get beautiful skin the natural way you won’t trash your body; you’ll improve it. Back in the day I was a classic cash cow for big sugar. My daily intake was almost certainly 120 grams plus.
Since then, I’ve slashed my sugar intake to below the acne-friendly threshold of 50 grams. My energy levels are more consistent thanks to more even blood sugar levels. My joints and muscles recover faster after heavy exercise. I’ve even gained intelligence thanks to less inhibition of the brain derived neurotrophic factor in my brain.
If you too ditch Accutane and create an optimal diet and lifestyle, there’s no limit to the invigorating health benefits you could enjoy.
Thanks for reading!