Acne Medications Cause Liver Damage

Cut Carbs, Curb Copper Instead.

13056306-566x849Who hasn’t suffered the heartbreak of acne? The most common skin problem, this inflammatory disorder causes pimples in approximately 80 percent of Americans between 12 and 45 years of age.

Acne starts at puberty when the body dramatically increases its production of androgens (male sex hormones). This stimulates the production of sebum, an oily skin lubricant. If sebum is produced faster than it can move through the pores of the skin, blemishes occur, trapping bacteria inside the skin.

Conventional medicine offers antibiotics as an oral acne treatment. But research at UMass Medical School finds that taking minocycline over a two-year period can cause hepatitis in healthy teens.

Over the years, a variety of abnormal immune reactions—including arthritis and lupus—have been traced to acne medications. Side effects of minocycline include jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin), dark-colored urine or urinating less than usual, severe pain in the upper stomach spreading to the back, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate, severe headache, dizziness, fever and flu symptoms, severe blistering and peeling, red skin rash, easy bruising or bleeding, and unusual weakness.

Tetracycline antibiotics (like minocycline) also make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. All antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, causing yeast infection in 10 percent of women taking these acne medications.

The good news is that new research show how to rid acne and prevent acne scarring and liver damage. For instance, high glycemic (starchy) foods and milk increase tissue levels of male hormones that cause acne.

Hormonal changes at puberty, premenstrually, during pregnancy, and before menopause make women particularly vulnerable to acne. Women with fast-paced careers are more likely to experience adult acne. That’s because the body produces more male hormones in response to stress.

Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:

For most of my life, I’ve had to deal with sensitive skin. It’s really one of the reasons I became interested in nutrition in the first place.

During college, I suffered from acne.  I was afraid my skin would always be broken out and learned early on the impact of diet on my skin.  I knew only too well how sugar (even too much fruit juice) and chocolate, made my skin react – despite what the dermatologists had to say.

Later as an adult, my hair developed a strange-looking orange tint.  And I was always dragging even though my mind was in overdrive.  When I finally uncovered the cause – copper overload and zinc deficiency – thanks to a TMA (hair analysis), my skin started to clear up, my energy returned, and even my hair returned to its original color.

Adrenal Insufficiency

Copper –zinc imbalance affects the adrenals and the liver. Zinc is needed for the production of adrenal cortical hormones, so if zinc levels are low or copper is high, production of these hormones diminishes. The adrenals then aren’t able to rise to the challenge of stressful situations and give the body the get-up-and-go it needs.

Liver Troubles

Copper-zinc imbalance also affects the liver. Copper and zinc are both necessary to activate enzymes essential for normal liver function and detox, so if they are out of whack, the ability to eliminate toxins and deactivate acne-causing hormones is impaired. Excess copper also destroys vitamin C and bioflavonoids, weakening collagen which keeps skin firm, and important skin proteins such as keratin and elastin.

All of us need to prevent copper overdose. Foods high in this mineral include avocado, coffee, regular tea, chocolate, pecans, shellfish, soy, and even drinking water in some parts of the country.

To clear skin once and for all, first say goodbye to sugar. Then, think zinc. Meat (grass-fed is best) eggs and pumpkin seeds are decent dietary sources.

The recommended daily copper allowance for adults is 2 milligrams – the amount already provided in most multis. Compound that with what you’re getting from copper-rich foods:  tea contains about 5 milligrams of copper per 100 grams and cocoa powder is not far behind at about 4 milligrams per 100 grams.  You can see how easily your copper intake can build up in the body and interfere with the actions of your hormones and other nutrients. That’s why I created a copper-free multiple which also delivers other essential skin-friendly nutrients (B complex, magnesium, Vitamin C).  Check out UNI KEY’S Female Multiple!

Try these acne remedies. For breakouts, try dabbing blemishes with a little tea tree oil. It’s as effective as benzoyl peroxide. Another outstanding zit zapper is good old calamine lotion. No wonder, since it’s rich in zinc! Also look for natural skincare products that contain alpha hydroxy acids, which help prevent acne scarring and cause red marks to fade.


Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Sandra

    Great information for the season my youngest son is in. Will be re-evaluating his acne regime and diet. Many thanks!

  2. Faith

    Indeed, now that I have seen this article. It will definitely make me rethink my acne regimen. I don’t use many to begin with, especially in the last few years.

    However, I did have a really bad bout recently with acne, so I started a popular benzoyl peroxide solution that is shown a lot on TV. I’m not sure I can say the name on here, but it does work.

    I was wary of using it, due to the ingredients I had seen on the label. I will not go against my gut feeling on matters such as these again.

    Thanks for the information. I will make sure to tell every one I know.

    By the way, I’ve been trying to find this out but haven’t been able to find an answer: Ann, do you do any consultations?

  3. Angie

    Thank you so much for the info. I have a huge problem with acne and i am 30 years old. I am and have been taking minocycln for about a year as well as birth control to try and kill the acne. Some days im good and other days im not. I have the acne that is cystic and very painful. I never had it as a child. Wierd. But…. your article makes perfect sence. I never thought about the starches… thank you so much.

  4. Wendy Resnick

    I would like to send you a question related to yeast infections. What is the appropriate way to correspond with you about it?
    Thank you!

  5. Fatima

    Thanks Ann for this wealth of info.
    Can you please comment on people who take the pill as a treatment for acne. My daughter was thinking about it. She has scars from acne also. I have copied her this blog.
    Thank you.

  6. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Fatima, for many young women, the pill can initially be helpful but over time can create estrogen dominance. I would highly suggest that your daughter consider a salivary hormone test and test for the estrogen to progesterone ratio – at the very least. The specifics can be found in the testing section on my site under Store. Thanks 🙂

  7. Fatima

    Thank you Ann so much. You are so helpful 🙂

  8. Ann Louise Gittleman

    Dear Friends:
    I would love to answer each and every single one of your queries, as I have done to the best of my ability, in the past. The popularity of this Blog has grown to the extent that I can no longer provide that service but I am in the planning stages of an Internet – TV show where you can call in and get those questions answered by me in person! Please stay tuned for this exciting development. I first must complete a new manuscript and then will make some exciting announcements. In the interim, may I suggest that if you have questions about products, call UNI KEY at 1-800-888-4353. The folks there are helpful and will direct you accordingly. If you are concerned about a particular health condition, then by all means check out the Testing Kits on my site which will help you to determine underlying causes. Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and interest!

  9. Natasha

    Reading this article in 2019, and this does make a lot of sense. Most of the treatments involve topical medications, but everyone forgets diet. And most importantly the importance of Zinc for acne. Thanks for this informative article 🙂


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