Botox: from food poisoning to wrinkle eliminator
People will do almost anything to appear young and wrinkle-free. They’ll even inject food poisoning into their face. The popular wrinkle eliminator, Botox, has been around since the 1800’s, but it wasn’t known as a movie-star cosmetic. Instead what is known as botox now was known as a botulism, a food-borne neurotoxin that caused neurological symptoms such as muscle weakness, drooping eyelids and difficulty swallowing.
The toxin was first found in 1820 by Dr. Justinus Kerner, a scientist who found botulism in a batch of spoiled sausages that had caused several deaths. Later, in the late 1800’s, botulism popped up again when 3 people died and 23 were paralyzed after eating a bad ham. Studies followed and seven strains of botulinum toxin were identified.
Finally, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, researchers began looking at how the toxin could be beneficial. They found it to be a muscle relaxer and particularly helpful for strabismus, or crossed eyes. By the 1980’s studies had found that it was helpful for neck and shoulder spasms, vocal cord spasms and facial spasms, and the FDA approved botulinum toxin for the treatment of strabismus and blepharospasm, spasms of the eyelid muscle. Shortly thereafter the name was changed from botulinum toxin to the now popular name, Botox.
By the 1990’s the toxin was being studied excessively and had been found to help alleviate everything from writer’s cramp to excessive sweating. It was during this time of study that a Dr. Jean Carruthrs, a Canadian ophthalmologist found that it was lessening the brow wrinkles in her patients who were using it to treat blepharospasm. By 2002, the FDA had approved the toxin for cosmetic reasons.
Today, the once deadly food-borne toxin is the number one non-surgical cosmetic treatment in the United States.
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