Is Roacutane worth it?

Sometimes things come in spurts... I have had a horrendous time with things breaking around the house (the car, the pool pump, the dishwasher and even the dog) and in my Health clinic the same thing happens! I get runs of things.

I seem to be having a run of "roacutane" and skin problems in my patients at the moment. So I have taken the time  to research it more and thought I would give you the insider info as I go. (Roacutane is same as Accutane in USA) .

What I understand about this drug:

Roacutane, accutane (isotretinoin) is a HEAVY drug. The longer it is in use the longer it's warning list becomes and the more hesitant doctors are to use it. BUT if you are a skin specialist what else can you offer a young person suffering with severe acne?

Of course steroid cream!

From my understanding Roacutane stops the cells from utilising Vitamin A and dries up the pores (dries up sebum which is the oil produced at the base of the hair follicle which then is a perfect home for bacteria which leads to blackheads and white heads ). The result of this can last a life time which is why roactune has been deemed as so successful.

HOWEVER... read the fine print....

What are the concerns with Roacutane?

This is a cut and paste from the USA FDA (the big kahuna who governs medicines in the USA) and this is what they have to say about Accutane/Roacutane:

What is the most important information I should know about Accutane?

  • Accutane is used to treat a type of severe acne (nodular acne) that has not been helped by other treatments, including antibiotics.
  • Because Accutane can cause birth defects, Accutane is only for patients who can understand and agree to carry out all of the instructions in the iPLEDGE program.
  • Accutane may cause serious mental health problems.
  1. Birth defects (deformed babies), loss of a baby before birth (miscarriage), death of the baby, and early (premature) births. Female patients who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant must not take Accutane. Female patients must not get pregnant:
    • for 1 month before starting Accutane
    • while taking Accutane
    • for 1 month after stopping Accutane.If you get pregnant while taking Accutane, stop taking it right away and call your doctor. Doctors and patients should report all cases of pregnancy to:
      • FDA MedWatch at 1-800-FDA-1088, and
      • the iPLEDGE pregnancy registry at 1-866-495-0654
  2. Serious mental health problems. Accutane may cause:
    • depression
    • psychosis (seeing or hearing things that are not real)
    • suicide. Some patients taking Accutane have had thoughts about hurting themselves or putting an end to their own lives (suicidal thoughts). Some people tried to end their own lives. And some people have ended their own lives.

I am sure if a natural medicine supplement or a vitamin could cause such devastation that it would be banned. Anyway...

healing acne

The GREAT concerns stem from...

1. Decreased Folic Acid levels

Folic acid is one of those key ingredients for the body (just like cement glue). Without it we fall apart. Folic acid is used in so many chemical reactions in the body and without it, these don't happen.

Isotretinoin interferes with the absorption of folic acid (this is only one study, there are many) and most doctors will suggest supplementing with folic acid.

Folic acid is relatively safe and can be purchased from the chemist in 5mg dosing. I would recommend having Folic Acid 5mg a day for at least 6 months after stopping Roacutane as well. We have stores of folic acid and you want to make sure yours are not low, especially if you are aiming to have a baby in the near future after stopping roacutane as low folic acid  is a key contributor to spina bifid a, kidney tube issues and a few other nasties. Which brings me to the use of roacutane in young FERTILE women...

2. It affects the unborn baby in a BAD way!

This is another cut and paste job from the USA FDA.

Do not take Accutane if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or become pregnant during Accutane treatment. Accutane causes severe birth defects.  

Doesn't that rule out all women in their 20s, 30s and 40s???

It really should be a last resort for young women because of this high pregnancy and baby birth defect possibility. And if you feel like you have tried everything but haven't seen me (or another naturopath), see what I can do first.... not because I need business, because I don't want you to have an affected baby. I have read reports where I know the affects of Roacutane are in the body for 5 years... this is a long time if you are going to wait to have a baby to "be sure" and even then how will you know.

READ THIS BLOG BEFORE DECIDING about hormones, food and acne.

3. It can cause depression and is heavily linked with suicide.

I have heard statistics such as 9 out of ten suicides in Australian teenagers  are on Roacutane.  This is additional information that the FDA provides....

  1. Stop Accutane and call your doctor right away if you or a family member notices that you have any of the following signs and symptoms of depression or psychosis:
    • start to feel sad or have crying spells
    • lose interest in activities you once enjoyed
    • sleep too much or have trouble sleeping
    • become more irritable, angry, or aggressive than usual (for example, temper outbursts, thoughts of violence)
    • have a change in your appetite or body weight
    • have trouble concentrating
    • withdraw from your friends or family
    • feel like you have no energy
    • have feelings of worthlessness or guilt
    • start having thoughts about hurting yourself or taking your own life (suicidal thoughts)
    • start acting on dangerous impulses
    • start seeing or hearing things that are not real

The above symptoms sound like PMS to me. Don't mix the two I SAY!!

On a serious note, this drug is HEAVY with side effects. Don't start it lightly.

I know I mentioned this before but seriously, suicide attempts often result in success and suicide failures are equally as soul destroying. The link is so strong that I am prepared to never recommend Roacutane.

I'd like to suggest that you try these things:

* Dietary Triggers: Dairy, wheat, gluten may cause pimples/acne. Try stopping them for a month at a turn and see how your skin goes

* Stress can cause changes to our skin and extra oil production. Try embracing a relaxation activity every day (maybe yoga, meditating, breathing, DVDs etc)

* Address deficiencies. Vitamin D, Vitamin B5, Zinc, Omega 3s can all assist improve skin and are implicated with its poor state

* Seek out proper hormone balancing. Hormones impact on our skin immensely.

In women high testosterone, high estrogen and low progesterone can attribute to acne and in men, too much testosterone (as during puberty or taking steroids) and high estrogen can cause acne. I specialise in this area and have a number #1 best seller on hormones called Beauty & the Beast Within. You can purchase and download to read right now. Or if you would like to check out my consultations and other tests I offer, check them here.

* Metabolic problems. This area really would warrant a consultation with a naturopath or a holistic doctor. Often if you don't use your bowel daily or your liver isn't detoxifying adequately you will end up with a skin issue. I describe this to my patients as follows:

Imagine a swimming pool and as we all know pools have pumps to filter all the rubbish out and keep the pool water clean and blue. If the filter isn't doing its job then the water will become murky, change colour and look uninviting. The same happens with your skin, except the pool filter is your liver and the water is your skin.

You can chase the pool leaves, add chemicals to the water but most of the effort should go into ensuring you have a clean filter. This is the same as the body. Ensuring your liver is detoxifying correctly is amazing for ensuring good skin.

 

ON A PERSONAL note.

I suffer with acne from time to time (problem random pimples is a better description but they can be BIG). This is what I do:

1. Clean up my diet

2. Exercise more (to flush my body of rubbish and release tension)

3. Back off the stress (start cancelling things as usually I have over committed)

4. Increase my omega 3 foods (olive oil, fish, nuts)

5. Work my liver (St.Mary's Thistle, lemon in water, vegetable juices)

6. Balance my hormones (in my case I know my estrogen rises so I take my broccoli extract for a few weeks to calm things down).

The Health Queen Wrap UP:

I know I am a naturopath and can't write a script for Roacutane but even if I could I wouldn't. As some of you know I have a back ground in pharmaceuticals and love the way pharmaceuticals work BUT this drug is on the "DON'T GO THERE" list for me.

I get very concerned when I hear patients are on it and I will jump through hoops and over barriers to help you avoid going on it.

I also appreciate that having cystic acne is disfiguring, distressing and down right depressing.

Read my blog on hormones and foods for more information.

Purchase and read more about hormones and how they are affecting you with my ebook on hormones.

If you have experienced Roacuatane/Accutane, let's us know if it was worth it over all or not. 🙂