Today Botox is everywhere. If we do not see it around us, most likely we are hearing about it. Botox is plastered across gossip headlines and busy foreheads, Botox is used by the faces on the TV shows we watch, Botox finds itself amongst much debate about whether the final outcome is a positive one or not. Simon
Cowell preaches the stuff “simply works. You do it twice a year. Who cares?’ believing it’s “no more unusual than toothpaste.” Sharon Osbourne believes it is “one of the best things for cosmetic surgery and Jenny McCarthy vows she will always be “Team Botox.” My own mother disagrees with using it at all whereas I cannot wait for the day where I need it. It is considered that there are two types of Botox users – those that discuss using it and those that deny using it altogether. Botulinium toxin is now 15 years of age and yet users and non-users are still not aware of where this product came from and its medicinal benefits long before it was used to smooth out our lines.
In the 1820’s, Dr Justinus Kerner started the journey when he began to study a batch of blood sausages that killed several Germans. Something in the sausages developed the disease and so Kerner gave it the name of the “wurstgift.” The study brought deeper understanding of food borne botulism and greater awareness of the symptoms it could cause such as drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, muscle weakness and in some potential cases paralysis and heart failure. It was 70 years later when Emilie Van Ermengem (a German physicist) discovered seven strains of Botulinium toxin, four of which were harmful to humans. The link between botulism and spore-forming bacterium was established and its official name of “Bacillus Botulinus.”
During World War 2 weaponry research led to the discovery of how botulinum toxin blocks the neuromuscular transmission thus it being considered as the deadliest weapon in the world.
Trials and Benefits
It was only after the war was over that trials began to establish how we could make the toxin beneficial to us. Botulinium Toxin Type A was purified into a crystal form and its value was found once small amounts were injected into a hyperactive muscle. It led to further research like Dr Alan B Scott who started using it in his testing with monkeys to treat cross-eyed conditions. By the end of the 1960s Botulinium Toxin Type A was becoming a significant drug to use in research labs across the world.
Years of discovery
In 1978, the FDA approved human volunteers to be used during injectable trials of the drug. A multitude of benefits were unveiled; researchers found the toxin could alleviate symptoms associated with all kinds of muscle conditions like Strabismus, Blepharospasm and hemifacial spasms. The 90s brought forward further evidence to show how Botulinum toxin could help with excessive sweating, some cases of cerebral palsy and bladder spasms. It was so highly in demand at one point that in 1997 the US actually ran out of it.
The birth of Botox
In 2000 Botulinium toxin was proven to help with cervical dystonia and a year later, Allergan decided to launch a multi-million-dollar campaign to launch their new snappy sounding brand ‘BOTOX.’ Allergan say to this day, it is one of the most successful pharmaceutical brand launch in the company’s history. The profit margin hit past $1 billion 6 years later. In 2013 in the US, it was recorded that Botox injections were the most common cosmetic procedure.
And here we are today where Botox is more affordable and accessible than ever before. The treatment is still rather stigmatic, but accompanied with a few more years of research and general education to our peers, we will hopefully become more comfortable about discussing it.
Have you ever had Botox or considered it?