I'm a nutrition ninja about to graduate in June with my Master of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University! It's a small naturopathic medicine school, so you can see how being in the holistic health care realm afflicted with cystic acne would make a girl feel like putting her head in a recyclable eco-friendly bag.
My birthday is on Monday and I'll be turning 28!!! Holy crap, that's kinda old to have acne, right? Blame it on the greasy Italian genes. Except for the fact that my skin is now dry with acne because of years of treating it topically, which means it flakes and hurts a lot. Anyways, I'm starting isotretinoin on my birthday. I never wanted to take Accutane...I thought it was poison and the devil, but read on to see how I changed my mind...
My Lovely Acne History
I had perfect skin throughout most of my early years, but began getting mild acne around age 16/17. I tried the typical over the counter stuff, but began getting very inflamed pimples which were spreading rapidly. Since I knew nothing of natural medicine, we went to the dermatologist and I was put on antibiotics and retin-A. Cleared me like a charm!
I continued with beautiful skin until age 20 when I had a relapse for no known reason. I was in college and had to do another course of antibiotics, which always hurt my tummy. I just made to sure to eat lots of yogurt. No big deal, right?
WRONG. Flash forward to age 22. Graduation from college. I was under an entire year of extreme stress from writing my thesis, and I was experimenting with a vegan diet since I went to a hippy-dippy school where all the cool kids were doin' it. Hah! After the veganism disaster which included eating lots of wheat, beans, soy, vegetables, I was losing too much weight and my skin was horrible, my period stopped. I switched to the Perricone diet and started to see some results, but grew tired of salmon. Most of all, I was tired of breaking out so badly.
I ended up seeing our family chiropractor who specialized in nutrition and hormone balance. She tested my cholesterol, hormones, among other things and discovered that I had high DHEA/cortisol from the stress of school and a non-ideal vegan diet. I had stopped having a period for 6 months as well because of all the stress and undiagnosed Celiac disease. She tested for food allergies/sensitivities and I had a high IgG response to gluten, dairy, soy. I also had an IgE (true allergy) to tomatoes. Basically, I was walking around with Celiac disease and food allergies in so much inflammation and pain. My cholesterol was too low as well. I started eating eggs like a mad person, as well as liver, beef, cod liver oil, anything to increase my production of my sex hormones. I took antiobiotic-like herbs such as Berberine and gobbled up wonderful detoxifying chlorella.
Basically, I started to feel amazing, but I STILL had acne. I tried curing my acne for over a year, but it was all over my face and painful. Finally, I went back to the dermatologist, took a course of doxycycline, had sessions of blue light therapy, and used Differin 0.3% gel and Acanya gel. I cleared up PERFECTLY and remained so for a few years. Anyone seeing a vicious cycle here?
Age 26. My skin is SO nice and I get wonderful compliments, but then I start developing painful, hard lumps under my facial skin about 6 months into grad school. One of the lumps burst leaving a HUGE infected open wound on my face, which a derm said was a Staph infection. Jeebus! This led me to take Tetracycline for 3-4 months. It was horrible even though my skin was perfect. Every day, my stomach ached and I would go to bed crawled up in a ball.
Once I was off the antibiotics, I was scared the acne would come back as it always had. And I was right. It came back. The worst it ever was. Cysts all over my face, and this time with scarring. I was devastated, but I said NO to Accutane even though one dermatologist was nearly begging me to take it due to the severity. I was scared because I have Celiac disease...I didn't want to cause permanent damage.
So I spent over a year going to a Naturopath. She had me on detox diets, elimination diets, low-carb diet. I didn't eat RICE for months. I took hormone balance herbs that tasted like sewage water. I tried sweating it out at the gym, hypnotherapy, not using topicals, using topicals, HPL treatments (which BURN like a m-fer!), facials. Gahhh!!! I've been there people, I did it all except for birth control because I didn't want to take hormones for the rest of my life. I wanted a permanent cure.
My last ditch effort before Accutane was Bactrim and Tazorac cream. All I did was break out in cysts the whole time. HORRIBLE.
So that's why I'm here. I read a bajillion of the personal Accutane logs. I informed myself of the risks vs. rewards. I even had a rap session with my dear ol' God in the sky, and I truly believe that my guardian angel will be taking care of me while on this medication (sounds cheesy, but I believe in that stuff).
I am here to tell you that I'm not scared to take Accutane. I welcome it and I WILL be healed.
Here is my personal Accutane protocol. Feel free to employ any of these nutrition support strategies to keep you healthy and lessen side effects:
- 40 mg / day for my 118 pound nutrition ninja bod. Starting out taking 20 mg in AM, 20 mg in PM for ONE WEEK per doc's instructions. Then will take both pills at night once my body adjusts. She may bump me up to 80 mg next month. We shall see!
- Barlean's omega 3-6-9 orange swirl FISH OIL! DELICIOUS!!! No burpies and tastes like creamsicle, very easily absorbed into your body. They make different flavors as well.
- Bioimmersion Supernatant Probiotic is uhhhmaaazzzing. Heals your digestion and is the most potent probiotic I've ever taken.
- Thorne's S.A.T. liver support supplement containing milk thistle, turmeric,artichoke leaf extract. It is extremely important to protect your liver while on Accutane, since your liver stores vitamin A, and we want to avoid toxic accumulations or damage.
- Liver-support foods: artichoke hearts, beans, beets, broccoli/all cruciferous vegetables, green tea, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro. I have maintained a gluten-, dairy-, soy-free diet for years, and for the most part avoid sugar, cook all my own food, drink hemp protein smoothies, and eat organically. It's never cleared my skin, but is AMAZING for your overall health.
- Ortho-tri-cyclen: this stuff makes me nauseated, but it hasn't caused any weight gain or other weirdness, just some stupid crying. Haha Required for the iPledge.
- Cerave hydrating face wash: not organic, but I love it! Only thing that doesn't irritate my skin right now. Plus it doesn't matter if your face wash isn't organic cause it doesn't sit on your face all day long.
- Sprouts Organic Face Cream: only contains organic shea butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. That's it! My derm approved it and said that I could use rich things on my face while on this medicine because they won't break me out. I really hate conventional moisturizers with parabens, cheap mineral oil/petroleum, fragrance, even dimethiconey stuff. Everything irritates my skin, too.
- Just bought some Boscia Restorative Night Moisture Cream just in case the Sprouts cream is toooo rich. To be honest, I'm slightly scared of using the Sprouts Cream right off the bat. Seems like it might be better when I'm extremely dried out. I've never been able to use creams on my face, so experimentation is in order.
- Boscia Vital Daily Moisture spf 15: I've used their oil-free spf 15 for a few years and love it, but it's water-based and even mattifying. I can use it without topicals because it is quite drying. Basically, it's not gonna cut it on Accutane so hopefully the olive oil and jojoba in the Vital Daily will be more hydrating.
- TWIG Mineral powder. It's a local Seattle brand. I hate makeup, but mineral powder is super light and gives me some confidence. Sometimes I use Physician's Formula talc-free loose mineral powder instead cause that's never broken me out.
Edited by ginanutrition, 15 May 2012 - 09:25 PM.