Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Botox: Poison or Panacea
"Can you steal some for me?" asked my 81-year-old grandmother when she heard I was reporting on Botox. It's a hot commodity even to my old-fashioned granny who has never driven a car nor touched a computer in her life. "It's like magic," she said.

Apparently, she's not alone in her lust and awe. Using the substance for facial lines is this country's most popular cosmetic procedure, according to the latest numbers from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. In just five years, the number of aesthetic procedures has quintupled.

As more people use Botox as the ultimate wrinkle remover, doctors are realizing that its benefits delve far deeper than the skin.

Here's a brief science lesson: Botox is a brand name for botulinum toxin type a. It's produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In its purest form, botulinum is one of the deadliest poisons known to humans. It can cause death by paralysis.

In 1989, long before physicians injected Botox into faces, the FDA approved it for patients with debilitating neurological diseases such as dystonia. In these conditions, faulty connections between brain and muscle cause parts of the body to spasm. Muscles are locked into uncomfortable, often excruciating, positions.

Amazingly, Botox liberated many of these patients by temporarily cutting the connection between overactive neurons and muscle, allowing the body to relax a bit. On a basic level, that is what's happening with Botox for wrinkles -- the muscle is loosening its grip on facial skin.

This ability to block the muscle trigger led researchers to use Botox for a whole host of other conditions. It's FDA-approved for excessive sweating due to overactive sweat glands. It is used off-label to treat multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, anal fissures, tension headaches and migraines.

In our report airing today and tomorrow, Dr. Gupta will show you Botox's benefits to stroke patients. Up to four in 10 stroke survivors suffer from spastic disability. You may recognize it as stiffness on one side of the body, often seen in a club-like hand or foot. These people lose their independence--the ability to wash themselves, to eat, and even walk.

We'll show you how Botox has been used for years in these stroke patients in combination with physical therapy. It allows some to regain mobility and muscle function.

It's not a cure-all. It does have minor side effects, and more studies need to be done on long-term use. But it's huge news for people like my uncle who just suffered from a stroke. It can give them motivation to get better and their families hope.

So, what did my granny say after I finished my spiel about the possible wonders of Botox? "See. I told's magic. Now, try to steal two bottles. One for me. One for your uncle."

Now, what do you think? Whether it's for cosmetic or other purposes, it's still a poison. Would you want to use Botox?

Botox is a trademark of Allergan.
To me, Botox is just a drug to treat the symptons, leaving the cause untreated. I prefer to treat cause naturally. I used to have migraines often. Now it seems to be gone with reduced glutatmate and other excitotoxin intake. I one day reproduced my migraine with supplements and fix it just with some fresh air as I know I can use oxygen to remove exccess glutamate in my brain and to fix my migraine. I'm not going to use Botox to treat any of my diseases in the long term. Meanwhile, I'm not surprised if more "benefits" (I call it toxic-offsetting-effect) are discovered with Botox. I'll be very surprised if scientists failed have any terrible side effects with Botox with they gain more understanding of it. I feel sad for those people who use Botox for cosmetics reason.
My daughter had Botox injections in November 2004. She has spastic diplegia Cerebal Palsy. The injections worked a great miracle on her. The Botox was given in both her calf muslces to loosen her legs. It was wonderful. Because of the good response to Botox she was able to have the Selective DOrsal Rhizotomy by Dr.Park in St Louis MO back in Dec 2006. Botox, like any other drug, should be used in controlled situations. I think people that want to use it so that don't have wrinkles need to step back and consider the children or stroke victims that REALLY could benefit from the drug for health reasons, not "I want to look young forever" reasons. I think people are concerned about what is REALLY important in life. I don't regret having the injections for my daughter at all.
Would this also work for spastic conditions due to cerebral palsy?
From a person who gets frequent tension/migraine headaches, Yes I would use it for that reason. I think it's terrific they've so many uses other than cosmetic for this drug. Any med that kills pain but is not a narcotic or other problematic pain meds is a helpful thing.
I just recently had my second injection of Botox in my neck for cervical dystonia. I finally feel normal! It stopped my head, neck, shoulder and arm tremors. My speech and handwriting are now normal. My head doesn't lean to the left anymore. Before, I felt ashamed of my appearance. Now I feel much more confident. I will be taking Botox under the care of my neurologist for a long, long time. I would not use it for wrinkles, though.
It's a miracle drug.

I have been suffering from Hyperhydrosis for years. Botox took my problem away. I only need to get the injections once every 5-6 months.
I received botox injections for spasms in my neck for 1 year. It was a great breakthrough for me. I stoped however; the brief treatment allowed me to work on relaxation techniques to reduce my spasms. I did not want to have the injections every 3 months for the rest of my life. If the spasm return and are again an issue I would consider doing it again.
I had a spasm in my left eye & face for 7 years before I finally gave in to
Botox shots every 3 months. I was work-
ing two jobs, 50-60 hours a week and raising two children alone.. My son finally brought me to the hospital when
he saw me tearing at my face & leaving marks & blood. I was so frustrated. I saw the first Doc; he overdosed me w/ 100cc every visit; I am now palsied and will never smile; food pours out of my mouth, & I refuse to go through
a surgical procedure where they drill a hole in the brain, and "patch" the muscle & nerve so it no longer "shorts
out"... And they say Botox wears off in three months.. Don't believe it, I have been suffering for 15 years and will continue to suffer.. Please use it very carefully, get numerous Docs' opinions, and decide if you really need it...
I used many times. It is absolutely harmless when used with a reputable phyisician and in a balance manner. Please stop making a big deal out of it.
There seems to be a possible corrilation between my use of Botox and hair loss around my face, bangs, hairline.. I have quit using it. It seems to have stopped. Has anyone else noticed this kind of side effect?
To me, botox is one of the best solution to remove wrinkles. But the main problems are: the price of the injections and the small duration of the effects (3 months).

Personally, to prolong the effects of botox, I use a medical device called Safetox Beauty ( It can reduce the number of injections by 3.

Now I just have an injection every 8 ou 9 months.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends -- info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.
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