Botox was once just a wrinkle fighter. Now, it's used for a whole slew of conditions and may very well change modern medicine.
It Could Calm Severe Muscle Cramps
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In 1989, Botox was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat both strabismus (eye muscle problems) and blepharospasm (abnormal spasm of the eyelids). It wasn't until 2002 that the whole wrinkle thing came into play, making Botox the famous anti-ager it is today. (Are Botox injections the latest weight-loss trend?) "Botox blocks nerves in muscles," says Howard Sobel, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. This helps reduce various kinds of muscle spasms, including upper and lower limb spasticity (for which it just received FDA approval in early 2016).
It Could Dry Up Excessive Sweating
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In 2004, Botox received approval from the FDA for the treatment of sweating. But not like, a little sweat. It treats a condition known as severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (intense underarm sweating that can't be remedied with any kind of antiperspirant). Much in the same way Botox works to treat wrinkles—that is, stopping nerves from firing by blocking the uptake of acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitters that tells muscles to contract—it can also intercept signals being sent to the sweat glands. The result? Dry pits.
It Could Soothe a Migraine
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Did you know Botox is actually FDA-approved for the treatment of migraine headaches? Administered to approved patients about every three months, injections have been shown to prevent an average of eight or nine migraine days a month. The treatment lasts a mere 15 minutes and consists of 31 injections at seven key sites on your forehead, temples, and the back of your head, toward your neck. Botox works by inactivating the muscle it's injected into, says Norman Rowe, M.D. "So the muscle doesn't fire and pull," he explains. (Did you know yoga can soothe headaches too?)
It May Ease Back Pain
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Because Botox works by locally freezing muscles, it also helps treat muscle spasms and pain, especially on the back—a common site of chronic pain for many Americans, says Dr. Sobel. What's important to realize, though, is that this kind of Botox doesn't *fix* the underlying injury or issue. It just helps with the pain and spasming. Temporary relief lasts between three and six months and requires about three days to kick in. So while it helps, it's not a cure-all. And although Botox is being offered all kinds of places these days, it's best to visit a board-certified dermatologist or doctor who is specifically licensed to administer the injections appropriately.
It May Help Treat Depression
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The FDA recently gave Allergan (the company that owns Botox) the green light to move into late-stage clinical trials for depressive treatment in women. There's still plenty of research to be done regarding the study of Botox and its direct efficacy in treating depression. Recent studies (including one published last month in the journal Scientific Reports) challenge the drug's potential efficacy, suggesting that simply believing in the anti-aging effects of Botox injections can perhaps make individuals feel better about themselves and thus less depressed. Time (and more research) will hopefully paint a clearer picture.