Are There Any Natural Alternatives to Accutane?

If you struggle with acne, chances are you have heard of Accutane. The powerful, highly controversial drug is a sort of last resort medication used in only incredibly severe cases that have shown little improvement with other treatment methods.

Also known as Isotretinoin, Accutane is a derivative of vitamin A that is actually already present in your body; the drug is similar to an incredibly large dose of vitamin A, for better and worse. It works by reducing the amount of oil in your skin to a drastic degree, which can lead to dryness and irritation.

Are There Any Natural Alternatives to Accutane?

What to Know About Accutane

Though it is amazingly effective and almost always shows results in a relatively short period of time, Accutane is a very serious drug. Since Accutane is similar to a high dose of vitamin A, it carries comparable side effects, many of which are rather serious. There is a link to digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease and stomach ulcers.

Additionally, Accutane is known to cause an increased prevalence of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation in some individuals, along with liver damage, eyesight trouble, and joint and muscle pain and stiffness.

The drug is also not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to the risk of serious birth defects and infant health issues. Due to these risks, blood work is frequently required while on the medication and for quite some time after discontinuing Accutane.

If It’s So Dangerous, Why Use It?

This is a fair question. Why use Accutane if it could potentially make you incredibly sick? Honestly, it is a last resort. When nothing else works, doctors pull out the proverbial big guns to help end the fight. The dangers are carefully measured against your own biological factors to help the doctor decide if you are even a candidate for Accutane usage.

Many people are refused the drug entirely; those who do get put on it are closely monitored and have frequent blood draws and check ups. Additionally, they are advised to not get pregnant or consume alcohol to help offset the risk of pregnancy issues, like miscarriages and birth defects, and liver damage.

Is There a Natural Route?

There are a lot of potential natural alternatives to Accutane. Though some people will still not see results due to the severity and type of their acne, many people can benefit from trying these natural options before taking the Accutane plunge and opening themselves up to the potential risk of permanent side effects.

If you want to give these natural options a shot, run them by your dermatologist and see what they think; they will likely have some wisdom to bestow upon you to help guide you in the right direction.

Some Potential Natural Contenders

Popular right now for a variety of health purposes, cannabinoids are treated as a sort of modern day cure-all. Though there is still much to learn about the medicinal benefits of this hemp derivative, many healthcare professionals and holistic practitioners alike believe there are some very real skin care applications for the medication.


Cannabinoids (CBD) work in a similar way to isotretinoin, in that they help lower the oil production levels of the skin. Generally believed to be safe, these treatments are a fantastic option to give a try before you begin any Accutane based treatment.

Vitamin A

Another alternative that is a bit less stigmatized and more easily accessible is a supplement rich in vitamin A. Since Accutane is little more than a vitamin A derivative with added ingredients, a vitamin A supplement may do the trick without the extra side effects.

A 2014 study published in the Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology actually supported the idea that many acne sufferers are deficient in the vitamin, linking the two health issues together. With nothing to really lose and a whole lot to gain, vitamin A supplementation is certainly worth a shot!

Many people swear by kefir, a type of product similar to yogurt, to help fix a host of health concerns. Bad gut health has been linked to a ton of different health issues all over the body, from the heart to your face and back again. A buildup of inflammation in your digestive tract can cause inflammation to spread elsewhere, including to your skin.


This inflammation can certainly contribute to the formation and resilience of acne. Kefir is a tasty probiotic that is loaded with good bacteria to help balance out your digestive system and get everything working smoothly again.

Staying along the same general idea of incorporating fermented products into your skin routine, let’s discuss fermented sea kelp. Used by expensive, luxurious brands like La Mer and Tom Ford, fermented sea kelp is a frequently overlooked additive that can make all the difference in the world in the quality of your skin.

A fermented sea kelp mask or dietary supplement provides anti-aging benefits and is incredibly moisturizing. It also acts as a soothing, natural anti inflammatory agent to help reduce the appearance of red, sore breakouts.

Vitamin C

Lastly, let’s talk about vitamin C. Used for treating colds and boosting weak immune systems, vitamin C has a rather intense reaction when it comes in contact with bacteria. The vitamin eradicates germs that cross its path, reducing redness and acne prevalence has it does its thing.

You can get vitamin C from a host of different sources, ranging from supplements and drinks to foods you probably already eat. Peppers, oranges, apples, kale, and leeks are all fantastic examples of vitamin C rich foods that are easy to incorporate regularly for a little bit of a boost.

Even a glass of orange juice before you walk outside in the morning will make quite the difference over time with a bit of consistency!

Final Thougths

There are tons of natural alternatives to Accutane that really work. With the guidance of your dermatologist, any of these options will likely yield some results; consistency and patience is key in avoiding harsh drugs like Accutane.

If you do end up taking the drug, do not beat yourself up. We all have our own unique acne journeys; as the antiquated saying goes, to each their own.