Botulinum toxin (BTX), or Botox, is a neurotoxin protein toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Botulism toxins can result in muscle paralysis but can be fatal too. Botox works by blocking the release of acetylcholine in the body. It is usually injected into the muscles in the eye area in small amounts and partially paralyzes them. Injecting the muscle allows doctors to control how it relaxes. Botox is often associated with cosmetic uses such as treatment of facial lines, wrinkles or creases. However, recently researchers have discovered new Botox uses that are less well known. Here are 5 of the most intriguing uses for Botox:
In 1992, Dr. William Binder, who was a plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills observed that botox injections were associated with fewer headaches. Later, Allergan tested the drug on chronic migraine patients and in 2010 Botox was approved as a treatment for the disorder.
Some doctors still question whether the 31 injections in different spots on the head and neck (every 3 months) are truly effective for migraines, or whether there is a placebo effect.
Eyelid spasms (blepharospasms)
A number of patients who suffer from face or eyelid spasms of the eyelid and face (typically aggravated by voluntary facial movements) choose Botox as a medical treatment. If used correctly, 96.6% of patients will notice improvement after Botox injections. Their effect typically last 12-15 weeks but it depends on the cause of the spasm. That does not necessarily mean that administering more Botox will make the effect last longer.
Spasmodic dysphonia (SD) is a voice disorder resulting of the voice box muscles. The main therapy for SD is Botulinum Toxin Injections (Botox) into the vocal cords. Botox weakens the muscle but the effects are temporary, dose-dependent and lasting about three months. Research has found that the muscle weakness is proportional to the amount of toxin used, so there is a dose-dependent response.
According to a Dutch prospective cohort study, Botox injections into the submandibular glands helped to control excessive drooling in children with neurologic disorders. However, the researchers could not identify why some patients’ condition was much more or so much longer improved from botulinum toxin injections than others. Generally, it also remained unknown the effect of repeated injections as in some patients showed atrophy of the salivary glands and thus a reduction in hypersalivation, however, these results have been questioned by a recent report from Scheffer and co-authors.
Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
Scientists at Allergan noticed that when their patients being treated for facial spasms were sweating less. In 2004, injections of botulinum toxin A (Botox) were approved as a treatment for severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis. Since then, botox has long been used as a temporary solution for overly sweaty hands and feet.
Botox is now used in numerous cases and how botulinum toxin can be used for a number of medical conditions is being explored. Botox is now being used to treat migraines, twitching eyes, depression, overactive bladders, twitching eyes, sweaty palms and other numerous cases. Some call it a drug that’s treating everything; others caution the risks are still unknown.