Surviving Accutane

I was sixteen when my father sent me to Doctor Mauer for my acne. I hadn't asked for medical intervention, but like many things that were "wrong" with me my Dad was quick to offer action, even if it was poorly formulated. My acne wasn't all that bad, though certainly noticeable, and for this very reason that doctor should have his license revoked for what he did to my sister and I. Accutane was known even then for causing serious and irreversible side effects, although side effects is a generous term, effects are usually permanent, and the medication was supposed to be strictly for candidates with severe cystic acne which warranted life-altering risks. If do no harm is the foundation of being a doctor, that man caused my sister and I, like many victims, a lifetime of suffering and was the spark that lit the host of health problems I suffered from depression to cancer.

We can know from some of the most serious cases of Accutane poisoning that the primary organ to be affected, and thus compromised, is the pancreas. Accutane and its sister medications do their damage by forcing the extreme oxidation of cholesterol and other pancreatic functions, thus destroying the pancreas or part of it. The resultant chronic manifestations of Accutane poisoning are then related to pancreatic insufficiency and are essentially a rapid aging condition where in the course of four to six months a young person's metabolic function ages by twenty years. 

The small bit of good news if you're a victim of Accutane poisoning is that you can heal from the damage. Because the pancreas is compromised it is important to supplement the products of metabolism important to pancreatic function. These are enzymes and Taurine (insulin is also a major product of the pancreas, but it's actually a sort of stress hormone and is not absolutely necessary to utilize sugar if you have some fructose in your diet).

PANCREATIC ENZYMES or BROMELAIN are needed because the damage to the pancreas caused by Accutane prevents the proper synthesis of digestive enzymes and thus compromises digestion. Using a supplemental enzyme source helps restore the ability to absorb proteins, amino acids, and the minerals which would otherwise be bound too tightly to absorb. Bromelain is less expensive than pancreatic enzymes but just as effective and widely available, and a small amount taken with every meal can help guarantee the successful digestion and assimilation of a greater range of both proteins and minerals. Bromelain is also derived from pineapple, and there is enough in pineapple that eaten with other food serves the same purpose.

Because the majority of TAURINE is synthesized in the pancreas, the lack of pancreatic function means compromised Taurine saturation. Taurine is important for so many biological functions but primarily in this case to make dopamine and provide a defense against fatigue and weakness of the muscles and internal organs. Taurine has the unfortunate effect of stimulating excess bile output (more so if you have pancreatic insufficiency and have reduced bile output anyway) and this can cause a stomache ache when first taking it (the effect goes away after about 3-4 weeks, after which there are no more side effects). I start with a low dose and then take 1-2 grams with every meal, sometimes up to six grams if I feel parcticulalry depressed or low-energy. 

Since the pancreas is also the body's storage pool of MANGANESE it can help to supplement or eat foods high in this mineral, although in excess it can also cause toxicity so do not use in excess. It is more helpful to use with consistency, rather than amount, to fuel the continuous demands of enzymatic reactions. Some foods high in manganese are pinapple and maple syrup. Manganese is involved in an extreme variation of enzymes, and pancreatic insufficiency can contribute to illness merely from a deficit of manganese. ASPIRIN can also be helpful in daily use, even low dose, to help undo some of the derangement of proteins and fibrosis that have also likely occurred. 

VITAMIN D metabolism is also shown in studies to be adversely affected by Accutane use, and indeed many of my long-term health troubles involve deficient vitmain D metabolism. This is also reflected in the premature osteoporosis so common afflicting young victims of Accutane use, along with sleep and erectile disorders which are processes that all depend on proper calcium metabolism, which includes vitamin D. In my long history of illness since beginning Accutane use I have never been able to experience increased vitamin D function through normal sun exposure, so I've found it necessary to supplement. I prefer naturally formed sources like lanolin, and using a UVB light has sometimes helped although it's not as exact as taking an oral supplement.

VITAMIN B12 deficiency is also a risk of accutane use, because of a reduction in enzymes the digestive system is unable to free b12 from its protein bound state in most food. To ensure adequate b12 absorption the above mentioned enzyme supplement can help but I've also found real clam juice to be a wellspring of b12. This study describes how much free b12 is found in clam juice. A synthetic supplement can also help but I've found the natural version to be superior, and taking an enzyme like Bromelain can also help increase B12 absorbed from food.

GLYCINE may also be of help for relieving symptoms of accutane poisoning, although it's better to obtain glycine from food sources like gelatin, which alos contains other helpful amino acids. It can also be had as a supplement but since it is a true amino acid it can do wonky things like bond to calcium in digestive acid and cause hypercalemia (if taken with calcium in excess), or overinhibit the nervous system and cause transient motor control problems, so if you chose to use the supplement DO NOT take it in high doses. 

Of course it's also important to have a good diet full of good fats, protein, and carbohydrates to support the healing process, especially with the use of supplemental enzymes can greatly relieve and heal some or all of the damage caused by this insidious pharmaceutical, and if you haven't read my other diet-centered articles please do so. I also don't recommend supplement brands so please do your own research on that. 

SURVIVING ACCUTANE LIST

PANCREATIC ENZYMES or BROMELAIN
TAURINE
VITAMIN D

B12 (CLAM JUICE OR SUPPLEMENT) 
GLYCINE 
ASPIRIN
MANGANESE