Today we are going discuss a situation in the acne world that is, quite frankly, disturbing. You’re almost certainly familiar with Accutane, or Isotretinoin, the king of all acne drugs. It works by drying out the skin and is commonly prescribed by doctors as a last resort once all hygiene avenues have been exhausted.
It has a track record of curing acne but what it does not do is offer any benefits that you can’t get from healthy lifestyle techniques. That reason alone is enough for me not to recommend Accutane for you…
…but the real killer is the fact that Accutane can often cause horrific, permanent and life threatening side effects. Literally a fortune of money has been paid out in court due to the evil effects of this drug.
If you plan on reading no further in this article, then at least let it be known that I do not recommend that you take Accutane no matter how bad your acne is; there is too much risk for too little reward.
How Accutane clears acne
Make no mistake, Accutane does work. You only have to use google search to find tons of testimonials about Accutane completely annihilating their acne, about Accutane allowing them to have a life again, and about how glad they were that they took Accutane. There are tons of studies around too; Accutane’s acne eliminating power is firmly backed up by science. Here’s a few…
- Scientists in this study gave Accutane to Saudi Arabian men, and found that 90% had an excellent reduction in acne.
- Scientists in this study were so enthusiastic about the ability of Accutane to reduce acne that they are now recommending that the usage of Accutane should be expanded to just about everyone. 1000 patients were examined and Accutane caused an improvement in a large percentage of them.
- In this study a team of scientists gave 94 acne patients Accutane for an average of 8.3 months. They were pleased to find that over 90% of patients achieved a good reduction in acne.
Factor in the testimonials and the evidence is pretty clear; Accutane is an effective (but not good) way to reduce your acne.
In terms of how it achieves these miracles, Accutane is simply a form of vitamin A. Accutane is actually the brand name of a chemical called isotretinoin. Accutane was the very first version of this compound offered on the market way back in 1982. Since then numerous others have popped up, including the likes of Roaccutane, Absorica, and Claravis, but Accutane is the name that remains most firmly engrained in the public’s mind.
This isotretinoin is actually a natural form of vitamin A. It is found in the body in very small amounts, and many of its functions are the same as the natural vitamin A you find in the diet. That includes the method through which it stops acne; Accutane primarily functions by massively reducing your sebum production. Sebum is the oil on your skin that blocks you pores and allows acne to be born. High sebum production is a truly massive cause of acne, so big that without it you wouldn’t have any pimples at all.
Therefore it is no wonder that Accutane works wonders, given that it is simply a highly concentrated form of vitamin A. A patient taking Accutane will at first notice that their acne gets slightly worse. Then after a few weeks they will notice that their skin is becoming unusually dry.
After years of having an extremely oily face, their sebum production will fall to a low level not seen for an age. Eventually the patient’s pores will begin to unblock, acne-causing bacteria will have a less comfortable home, and there will be less acne.
In short, the Accutane has worked wonders for this acne patient’s skin. Tons of people do call it a superdrug and its effects are undeniable. This all occurs because it is basically a highly concentrated version of vitamin A’s sebum reducing power.
Elsewhere on this site I’ve recommended that you get more vitamin A in your diet for precisely this reason; to keep your sebum production nice and low. Therefore, getting tons of vitamin A in the form of Accutane should be a smart idea, in theory…
The risks outweigh the benefits
However the big problem with vitamin A is that out of all the vitamins known to mankind, it is one of easiest to overdose on. Back in the 19th century, the world was a whole lot less explored than it is today. Explorers were routinely heading up to the North Pole to try and be the first man to get there through one means of transport or another. While they were there several of them decided to hunt polar bears and eat them.
Their big mistake was eating the bear’s liver, which is the richest source of vitamin A known to mankind. A single bite of polar bear liver is enough to trigger nausea, vomiting, and extreme dizziness. Several of these unfortunate explorers were killed when they attempted to eat the whole thing.
The problem with Accutane is thus that you are exposed to an extremely high level of vitamin A for far too long. It is very rare for Accutane to cause death, but nevertheless it can cause side effects that range from the minor to the permanently debilitating. The classic minor side effects are dry skin and lips, as that is a result of what the drug set out to do in the first place.
Of course you might think that’s a small price to pay in order to get gloriously clear skin. However it gets a lot worse than that and some of the worst problems can be permanent. I would provide a comprehensive list of the side effects here, but honestly, there’s been so many reported that I won’t bother to try. Instead I will provide you with some key ones that show what a dangerous drug Accutane really is…
Inflammatory bowel disease. This is one of the classic symptoms associated with Accutane as thousands of cases have been reported. IBS can severely damage your lifestyle by restricting the foods you eat, and at its worst it forces you to get your whole colon removed.
That is exactly what happened to actor James Marshall, the actor who is well known for starring in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series. He took Accutane in the 80s, and the colon removal that he was forced to get as a result of it derailed his acting career. Eventually he sued Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company that invented Accutane, and won a massive pay-out.
Depression and suicide. There are no standout cases of suicide to mention, but the internet is completely full of different ones. Accutane had long been associated with conditions such as psychosis, violent mood swings, and depression so severe that it just can’t be beaten.
Then in 2004 scientists found that patients’ on Accutane had a 20% reduction in the activity of their orbitofrontal cortex. That is the part of the brain that is vital for mitigating depression. Many people even report that their symptoms of depression do not go away after treatment ends.
Destroyed night vision. Vitamin A is important for seeing in the dark – hence why your mother may have told you to eat plenty of carrots. But Accutane can actually substantially damage your night vision once you have stopped taking it. It seems that the eyes grow to depend on the higher doses of vitamin A and the dramatic reduction after Accutane leaves them unable to cope.
100% guarantee of birth defects. It is against the law to take any form of Accutane while pregnant, due to the fact that exposing your unborn foetus to it for any time can cause severe damage to your unborn baby. This includes both mental and physical defects.
Countless other miscellaneous reports detail lives that been ruined. Reports include permanent lack of moisture from “wet” areas of the body, such as the eyes. Complete and utter loss of sexual appetite has been reported. Some miscellaneous accounts include the inability to eat steak or tons of other foods. Roche, the company behind Accutane, practically lives in court these days and has paid out tons of money to victims of the drug.
The alternatives are endless
So what does this all mean for you? It means that you should never use Accutane, not in any circumstances. It’s highly likely that you would not have any negative side effects if you used it, but it’s entirely possible that you will. There is no way of telling whatsoever.
You’ll hear a lot of people arguing that you should just run the risk; after all more people than not do not have permanent side effects, and most people achieve a good reduction in acne. However I certainly don’t recommend that you follow that path. Acne might be an annoying condition but at least it does not damage your physical health.
The disturbing thing is that many young people are so desperate to cure their acne that they simply don’t care about the risks involved with Accutane. They basically put having clear skin above their ability to lead a happy and prosperous life. It’s pretty sad really, especially when you consider that many teenagers are well aware of the harm it can cause.
The main reason why they do take it in face of all the evidence is that they believe Accutane to be the “last chance to save their skin”. Yet it is not actually the last chance at all, because they have tried very few of the real options. The average dermatologist still offers up the advice that acne cannot be cured by eating nutritious foods or living a healthy lifestyle. They claim that you need to try hygiene methods, and if you fail with that then Accutane is the natural progression.
The truth is that there are alternative ways to beat your acne that are just as effective as Accutane. The whole idea behind the “you need to run risks in life” ethos, and that’s a good ethos in my opinion, is that there is actually some advantage to the risk. With Accutane there are none. Making vast changes to your diet will have just as large of an effect. Fixing lifestyle issues such as stress will cause massive improvements. Fixing the root causes behind your acne is better any day than blasting it away with a powerful drug.
To put it simply, there is no need for you to take Accutane. There’s no need to run the risk when there are options available which are just as good and won’t destroy your health in the process.
Take the acne strategy of fixing your insulin levels for example. Insulin is one of the most evil acne hormones in the business. High levels of it are one of the biggest causes of oily skin and high levels occur due to eating too many carbohydrates. If you keep insulin low by changing your diet significantly, then you can achieve a good reduction in the oiliness of your skin, and achieve an improvement in your health because keeping insulin in check reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes hugely.
Then you can combine that with getting more antioxidants, eating a nutritious diet, consuming plenty of natural vitamin A (within limits) and a ton of other strategies, and you’ll easily reach the same level of improvement that Accutane would have generated.
At the same time you’ll become a health superhuman; one of the greatest advantages of treating acne naturally is the powerful improvement in the rest of your health. You’ll have an exponential increase in energy and your brain will be as sharp as a dagger. Meanwhile you could take Accutane and achieve results that are no better, but also come with headaches, depression, dry eyes, and a digestive system that can no longer cope with many foods, permanently. It may not happen to you, but my recommendation is that there is simply no reason to take Accutane.
Taking Accutane is probably the worst decision an acne patient could make. There is absolutely no point of using it. You will most likely not get side effects, but you don’t want your health and life to be ruined just for the sake of clearing your skin.
There are tons of better methods anyway. Here’s a few in case you don’t know.
…and this article talks about vitamin D and why it can improve multiple problems that lead to acne.
There’s also a ton of articles about specific foods which have acne healing powers and other acne-causing monstrosities like trans-fats.
Follow the advice in them and you’ll have a great chance of curing your acne without dying in the attempt to do so. You’ll become a whole lot healthier and your quality of life will go up hugely.
Thanks for reading!