It is funny when you think about Botox. It is a very popular and effective way to reverse the signs of aging if you inject it under the skin, but it can kill you if you swallow it. Here are some facts about Botox.
What is Botox?
The Botox used by your dermatologist comes from the deadly food-borne bacteria Clostridium botulinum. You can get it if you eat improperly prepared meat or goods. It is a neurotoxin, which means that it kills the nerve tissues so that eventually your body will have no connection to your brain. This is a condition called botulism. You usually die of untreated botulism when you stop breathing, but in most cases, you will realize something is wrong and get medical help before that happens. Symptoms of botulism include double or blurred vision, difficulty in swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness and paralysis.
What are the medical uses?
The things that make C. botulinum deadly are also what makes it medically useful when properly handled. There are several phenotypes of the toxin, but the most commonly used in medicine is botulinum toxin A. Because it is a neurotoxin, it blocks nerves from receiving electrical impulses i.e. frowning. The toxin is diluted carefully before injection into a muscle to “freeze” it. In cosmetic use, it keeps the muscles of the face such as the forehead from moving, gradually minimizing lines in the area. Other medical conditions that can benefit from Botox include:
- Involuntary closing of the eyelids (blepharospasm)
- Involuntary contraction of the neck muscles (cervical dystonia)
- Severe underarm sweating
- Squints (strabismus)
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)
Are the effects permanent?
No, the effects of Botox are temporary. For treating wrinkles, for example, you will probably need another treatment every four months.
While it has distinct benefits, Botox is not harmless if improperly administered. Botox treatments should not be given to pregnant women, people on blood thinners or specific food supplements, and patients with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Consult with your doctor before having a Botox treatment for any reason.