For 13 years, I struggled with acne. It was indiscriminate and all over my body. The skin condition was cystic, nodular and every other variety; it was on my face, chest, back and every other crevice. My confidence and ability to be intimate with anyone for years was non-existent. This sk-insecurity prevented me from attending pool parties, dating, revealing my skin in any way, even looking into the mirror. I tried every over-the-counter topical treatment one could find at drug stores and Sephora – benzoyl peroxides, glycolic and salicylic acids from Neutrogena, Clean & Clear, Acne-Free, Olay and Proactiv. I spent thousands of dollars on facials, microdermabrasion & acne focused spa treatments to reduce breakouts and help with scarring. I was so dedicated to improving my skin that I went on a journey to try holistic solutions and took up vegetable juicing. I consumed and topically applied Coconut Oil, Fish Oil, anything and everything with collagen, retinol,Vitamin E & C, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Nothing worked consistently for me and it became a lot to manage. Many products were a hit or miss.
Every dermatologist that I visited recommended Accutane. The magic pill was said to permanently rid my body of acne. It sounded divine – but I was hesitant because no doctor could explain to me how it actually worked. Wikipedia couldn’t give me the facts either. It came to a point where I was desperate. I felt like my skin was controlling my life – without the confidence I so eagerly desired, I couldn’t perform as well as I wanted to at work. I found an excuse to never let any dates finish with a happy ending and any positive affirmation felt like a joke.
I took a leap of faith and decided to give Accutane a try. This is what was required: enrollment in iPledge, a program that all Accutane users must adhere to. The program requires patients to have monthly blood tests, ensuring vitals are not impacted by the drug. As a woman, I also had to have two consecutive blood tests to prove that I was not pregnant prior to being prescribed Accutane. If you are pregnant, there is absolutely no way you can take this drug. The packaging reinforces this – every pill is dispersed after pushing through a a big, bold image of a pregnant woman that has a huge fat Red X over it. My doctor explained to me that it was absolutely critical I have multiple methods of birth control – a birth control pill was preferred, but if not, iPledge makes you attest to all of your pregnancy prevention methods. After you submit your strategy to avoid a bundle of joy in the system, your doctor must also submit the same responses or your prescription is blocked.
It is a process that can be overwhelming but curing acne for life was the promised golden snatch so I went with it.
To say the side effects “sucked” is an understatement. I was constantly tired, at times lethargic. As if that wasn’t enough, my joints ached, my eyes & nose were dry, but even worse – my skin was severely dry. My face, especially around the chin area, resembled a flaky old beehive. I luckily didn’t experience anxiety or depression, which I was advised could both be side effects. What I did experience, which was revealed through my blood tests, was elevated levels of a protein produced by my liver. The alarming protein is naturally created when your liver isn’t properly functioning and signals a potential shutdown on the way. My body was raising a tired hand to alert whomever read my blood tests that something was wrong.
The only thing different (besides excluding all other types of medicines, alcohol, vitamins and even carrots) that I was doing was taking Accutane. Safe to say correlation implies causation in this case.
Outside of the liver impact, my white blood cell count was on a steady rise. During the 3 month period that I was committed to the regimen, my white blood cells rose from a normal range to nearly quadrupling at the end of month 3.
In addition to being scared shitless about my liver and overall health, I then developed anxiety which didn’t do much to help my well-being! My morale was ruined for a long time until I went further down the natural path of health, wellness and healing and came across CBD. And let me tell you – I’m very grateful. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD have done wonders for my skin. I did a lot of research to learn that everybody has an Endocannabinoid System (ECS) which naturally produces natural cannabinoids. These compounds help regulate bodily functions via 2 main receptors (CBD 1 and CBD 2), which are key to the nervous and immune system. Added plant cannabinoids (ingested or applied topically) help these receptors function more efficiently, leading to a stable and more balanced body.
No Endocannabinoid system is the same, but what works for me may work for you. I apply CBD oil topically to my face after the shower and other parts of my body where I’m having skin issues. I also take either CBD capsules or ingestible tinctures (also some gummies from time to time). When buying your products, look for Full Spectrum. Full Spectrum items contain terpenes and cannabinoids including THC (the component responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis); but,in such a small amount that you will not high. Full Spectrum is the strongest, highest quality of CBD because the inclusion of all of the phyonutrients in the cannabis plant (even that tiny amount of THC) complement each other, growing stronger, more effective bonds. The more full the spectrum of cannabinoids, the quicker and better those bonds will work, helping you treat an ailment or get the relaxation you are trying to achieve. Broad Spectrum is not a bad option, it’s just stripped of THC; so, a little less effective. The more cannabinoids in the spectrum, the more synergistic the effect. A CBD isolate, although still beneficial is the mildest of the three and contains the least amount of cannabinoids.
Also important when buying CBD – take a look at the ingredients and review the lab report. Many products although marketed as CBD or Hemp contain Hemp Seed Oil, which is very different. Pay attention to the Certificate of Analysis (COA) Lab Reports. The COA will tell you the complete breakdown of what the CBD and plant that the CBD came from was tested for. I’ve seen a number of Lab Reports that don’t test for harmful toxins, despite being FDA-compliant. Most CBD products have a QR code which when scanned, pulls up the lab report; but the company’s website should also have it. Stay informed on the quality of your CBD!
Another tip, specific to edibles: looked for “CBD-infused”. Another unsettling thing that we have learned while staying up late looking at lab reports is that some companies are spraying edibles with CBD rather than infusing the food with it. This significantly reduces the quality of what you are buying as the spray rubs off on the packaging and unevenly spreads the CBD across each piece.