Botox is a drug that weakens or paralyzes muscle. In small doses, it can reduce skin wrinkles and help treat some muscle conditions.
Botox is a protein made from botulinum toxin that the bacterium Clostridium botulinum produces. This is the same toxin that causes botulism.
Botox is a toxin, but when people use it correctly and in small doses, it has a number of medical and cosmetic uses.
Botox injections are probably best known for reducing skin wrinkles. Botox can also help treat crossed eyes, eyelid spasms, excessive sweating, and some bladder disorders.
In this article, we will explain how Botox works, its uses, possible risks, and side effects.
What is Botox?
Botox may help reduce skin wrinkles.
Botox derives from a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. This bacterium is present in many natural settings, including soil, lakes, forests, and in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish.
Naturally occurring Clostridium botulinum bacteria and spores are generally harmless. Problems only arise when the spores transform and the cell population increases. At a certain point, the bacteria begin producing botulinum toxin, the deadly neurotoxin responsible for botulism.
Botulinum toxin is extremely toxic. In fact, some scientists have estimated that 1 gram (g) of crystalline toxin could kill 1 million people and a couple of kilograms could kill every human on earth.
However, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, (AOCD), Botox is safe and has few side effects when used in a therapeutic context.
Manufacturers make Botox injections from very small doses of botulinum toxin. The drug can temporarily paralyze muscles, which can benefit a range of muscle- and nerve-related disorders.
Commercial versions of Botulinum toxin include:
Botox (onabotulinumtoxin A)
Dysport (abobotulinumtoxin A)
Xeomin (incobotulinumtoxin A)
Myobloc (rimabotulinumtoxin B)
Jeuveau (prabotulinumtoxin A)
People use the term Botox interchangeably for these various products, though “Botox” is the registered trademark of Allergan Inc.
How does it work?
Botox is a neurotoxin. These substances target the nervous system, disrupting the nerve signaling processes that stimulate muscle contraction. This is how the drug causes temporary muscle paralysis.
In order for muscles to contract, nerves release a chemical messenger called acetylcholine at the junction where the nerve endings meet muscle cells. Acetylcholine attaches to receptors on the muscle cells and causes the muscle cells to contract or shorten.
Botox injections prevent the release of acetylcholine, which stops muscle cells from contracting. The toxin reduces abnormal muscle contraction, allowing the muscles to become less stiff.