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Alternative Medicine Botox as medicine

What are the pros and cons of using Botox for migraine treatment? (April 2019).


The anti-wrinkle syringe makes career: Botox is considered a new miracle weapon in many ailments - from convulsions to chronic migraine.

So far, we have mostly used Botox as a remedy for wrinkle wrinkles, which dig in between the brows over the years. If a master craftsman was at work, you just look fresher, smoother and well-rested after the treatment. If Botox is administered by inexperienced and less sensitive doctors according to the motto "Much helps a lot", the upper half of the face appears mask-like due to a lack of facial expressions - it creates an irritating expression of constant surprise. For many, however, it is really surprising that botulinum toxin ("Botox" is just one of several brand names) not only smoothes out wrinkles, but is also becoming increasingly important as a serious drug. Recently, many new applications have been discovered. For muscle cramps, pathological sweating or teeth grinding, it is already used successfully.

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First application in the history of Botox

Botox is a neurotoxin from the syringe.

Botulinum toxin is a bacterial toxin. In the past, when refrigerators were not available and food hygiene was often inadequate, it used to be found in spoiled sausages and led to severe poisoning. Botulinum toxin started its medical career in the 1970s. The ophthalmologist Alan Scott from San Francisco was looking for a cure for strabismus. His theory: A tiny dose of nerve poison could paralyze the muscle pulling the squinting eye inward. A biochemist who had just developed purified botulinum toxin for possible military purposes sent Dr. Scott a scientific test - and it worked. In 1989, "Oculinum", like Dr. Scott called his drug, officially approved by the US authorities as a means against squinting and blinking. Two years later, the company Allergan bought the drug and sold it under the brand name "Botox". By applying it near the eyes it soon became apparent that Botox - practically as a side effect - led to wrinkle smoothing. This started the inexorable rise of the toxin Botox as an "anti-wrinkle syringe".

From medicine to aesthetics - and back again

An anger wrinkle treatment costs 300 to 400 euros, the effect lasts about half a year. But not only wrinkles can be smoothed with Botox, the dermatologists have discovered over the years, further applications of facial rejuvenation using Botox: "In the lower half of the face, you can block the muscles that pull down, and thus achieve a kind of lifting effect "Says Dr. Welf Prager, a doctor at the Dermatologikum in Hamburg. For many years, Botox has been used in this dermatological practice. Botulinum toxin is one of the most potent poisons ever. With a tablespoon full in the water supply one can kill a whole city, it is said. Is not it dangerous to be injected with something like that? Dr. Prager reassured: "The dose you would need to seriously endanger a person would be so high that you would have to invest between 30, 000 and 40, 000 euros. Botulinum toxin is always extremely diluted. 50 ml of undiluted stock solution cover the entire world's needs, both in the aesthetic and in the medical field. "

The application spectrum of Botox is constantly expanding. The drug botulinum toxin is very likely to bring great medical benefits in the next few years. For several years now, doctors have been injecting it with excessive sweating, the so-called hyperhidrosis. First, it tests where the overactive sweat glands are located. Then the area is treated with anesthetic cream, because it takes many, many small punctures to inhibit the activity of the sweat glands - about one per square centimeter of skin. This is a pretty safe method. Unlike wrinkle smoothing, no muscles are paralyzed, but the transmission of nerve stimuli to the sweat glands is blocked. But the effect also lasts longer: up to three quarters of a year. Whether the health insurance company pays for the treatment depends, among other things, on the severity of the illness and on the affected body region and is always an individual case decision.

Botox also has other uses

Botox is currently officially approved for the treatment of the following conditions: hyperhidrosis, facial expression lines, movement disorders such as torticollis, strabismus, eyelid cramps, and local spasticity after strokes. Dr. Prague also uses it against teeth grinding. The Botox is injected into the masticatory muscle. "This is not officially allowed, so a so-called 'off-label use' - but you can achieve excellent results with it, " says Prague. If the patient is informed beforehand that this is an "off-label use" or "individual cure" and there are trials that prove efficacy, then this treatment is legal.

An injection - and the migraine disappears

Botox also helps with migraine

In September, an international investigation was presented at the Neurologists Congress in Nuremberg. It demonstrates the efficacy of Botox against chronic migraine from 1400 patients. Botox injections significantly reduced the number of headache days within four weeks compared to a sham medication. Chronic migraine is when it occurs every other day or more. The discovery that Botox works in this form of migraine is a coincidence: many women who had their wrinkles smoothed with Botox and who also happened to have chronic migraines experienced a noticeable improvement. "Botox is not officially approved for this treatment yet. Neurologists can still inject it as an 'individual cure', "Dr. Zaza Katsarava, senior physician at the Neurological Clinic Essen and co-director of the West German Headache Center. The health insurance companies do not pay.

Expensive treatment

Those who continue to like to look in the mirror in the morning and still want to use Botox, have to dig deep into their pockets: a treatment costs around 500 euros and must be repeated every three months. Nevertheless, it can be thoroughly recommended. Because unlike drugs that are metabolised via the liver and kidney, Botox is degraded by enzymes and has no negative effects on organs. Migraine sufferers should talk to their doctor. The approval of Botox for headache control is only a matter of time, further indications will follow. The times when reflexes of splashing away wrinkles in "Botox treatment" are likely to be over soon.

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