My Awful Experience with Accutane & How It Impacted My Life Years Later

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When we experience chronic health challenges that effects how we feel daily, how we look, and that brings on such misery, we are willing to try almost anything to find relief. . . Especially if what we’ve tried hasn’t worked.

This was me at 18. I suffered horrible cystic acne since the age of 9 (really, really young to have acne). After trying all of the over-the-counter products for the first few years, my parents took me to the dermatologist regularly.

I remember his name to this day, Dr. Albergo. He was kind. He understood my teen suffering with these red, pustule krakens terrorizing my face. He did what any good dermatologist was trained to do: put me on antibiotics and gave me various prescription grade washes and face creams. This went on for a number of years.

Still, the cystic acne persisted.

Right when I started my first year of college at 18 in 2002, I convinced my parents to put me on Accutane. Accutane is a strong drug used to treat acne (now being prescribed under the names Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, Sotret, and Zenatane).

My parents, reluctantly, agreed. I think they just didn’t like the mandatory birth control part… Accutane is so horrendous that women must also be on birth control because it causes horrific birth defects.

This was before the class action law suits. This was before they significantly decreased the dosages of the drug. In the 9 month long cycle I was to be on the drug, was the start of other things going wrong with my health.

Side effects from the drug included extremely dry skin and depresssion. I remember my college roommate having to rub lotion on my back because my entire body was so uncomfortably dry. I had to cover up every inch of my skin at the beach or I would be scorched (another side effect of the drug). And I remember crying in my dorm room from experiencing great sadness for no rhyme or reason. I had no idea it was depression. I never talked to anyone about it.

This was the first time I ever gained weight in my life, too.

Not listed was the IBS I was diagnosed with a few months after ending the drug cycle that would expand into leaky gut, chronic bloating, constipation and last well into my thirties.

The effects from the drug both during and afterwards was waaay worse than the acne I started out with.

Oh and the acne didn’t even go away permanently! It came back just 3 months later.

And don’t even get me started on the solutions western medicine provides for IBS… *big eye roll.*

This is not health care. These solutions for chronic conditions don’t help people achieve wellness. In some cases, pharmaceuticals are needed to keep us alive. I totally honor and respect that. But how western medicine treats chronic illness is downright laughable and just plain DIRTY.

When we are desperate to find a solution, we are blinding ourselves from the possible side effects. These solutions presented by western medicine for chornic illness don’t offer true healing. They don’t address the root cause of the issues and therefore only cover them up and stress out the body further, especially the liver.

3 Things I did to Find True Healing

Friends, I didn’t find true healing until I took a natural approach to my health. And the 3 things that had the biggest impact for accelerating true healing were:

  • Decreasing my stress.

  • Getting my food right. I found that after a decade of paleo that just made more symptoms and conditions pop up, that eating a low-fat, plant-based, grain-free diet has done WONDERS for all of my ailments (see my about page for more on my other health conditions).

  • Taking the RIGHT supplements. I have taken some crazy supplements on my holistic healing path. And so many of them were full of unproductive ingredients. Now, I know better.

Finding Healing

I know that if you’re reading this, you also have chronic health challenges that have stolen parts of your life (or it’s someone you love). And let me tell you, things can improve.

When we give the body the right tools, it can once again find balance. If you’re interested in learning what those tools are, check out my course, Holistic Healing for a Healthful Life: 10 Foundations to Balance the Body for More Energy, Peace, & Vitality.

Or, let’s talk about what next steps you can take to begin to rebalance your body in a video session.


To your health and healing,



Hi! I’m Mandi Palmer, Food & Lifestyle Success Coach, and I bring fellow sufferers of chronic illness back to life. I beleive that by giving the body the tools it needs to balance itself, that it can also heal itself. And so when you work with me, we work together on discovering and implementing exactly what those tools are for you. Click here to schedule a session or click here to learn more about working with me.

<Disclaimer> This information is to be used for educational purposes only and is not to be used to diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Mandi Palmer does not attempt to practice medical nutritional therapy, rather educate on food choices, supplements, fitness, mindfulness, and spirituality. Mandi Palmer is not a doctor, licensed dietitian, or licensed nutritionist. By reading this article, you are agreeing to take responsibility for your own health and decisions regarding food and you waive the right to hold Mandi Palmer responsible for any negative instance or result that may occur after engaging with this information.