Discover these Surprising Health Uses for Botox

Christine Steele Christine Steele
5 minute read

We know Botox as the liquid facelift, mimicking the proverbial fountain of youth. But this magical injection does so much more than just reverse the signs of aging. 

Check out our previous post, The Benefits of Botox: Not Just for the Glitterati, to get a first-hand look at what it's like to experience Botox treatments for wrinkle removal.

There are actually quite a few non-cosmetic botox uses.

Botox has been shown to be effective in treating a number of painful and embarrassing conditions, from muscle spasms and chronic migraines to excessive sweating.

Individuals suffering from these and other conditions have discovered the benefits of using Botox for health issues.

health uses for botox

What is Botox?

Botox is the brand name for botulinum toxin, a neurotoxic protein used by medical professionals to erase fine lines and wrinkles, mainly on the face.

How Does Botox Work?

When injected into areas where wrinkles occur, Botox temporarily paralyzes the muscles used to make certain facial expressions. It does that by blocking the nerve receptors from communicating with the muscle.

The muscle is prevented from contracting, so the wrinkles you would normally see from smiling, frowning, raising your eyebrows, and other expressions no longer appear.

Common Non-cosmetic Uses For Botox

In addition to being the secret behind millions of wrinkle-free faces, there are also a number of other uses for Botox, including off-label Botox uses, which are not approved by the FDA.

  • Hyperhidrosis, or excessive sweating, can be extremely embarrassing for the 1.3 million Americans who suffer from it. While it most commonly impacts the armpits, it can also occur on the palms, soles of the feet, the face, and head. Botox stops excessive sweating much in the same way it prevents wrinkles. By blocking the secretion of the chemical that signals the sweat glands in the injection area, Botox effectively stops the sweating from occurring. Results show it decreases sweating by as much as 82% to 87% in the treatment area. Botox was approved by the FDA to treat severe primary axillary (underarm) hyperhidrosis in 2004.

  • Neurological and head and neck issues can cause excruciating pain for individuals who suffer from these problems. Botox has been shown to be effective in reducing muscle spasms and bringing pain relief. It is approved by the FDA to treat the following :

    • Eye twitches

    • Crossed eyes

    • Cervical Dystonia (involuntary neck muscle spasms that cause the head to twist or turn to one side)

    • Facial symmetry (due to hemifacial spasms)

    • Chronic Migraines (15 or more days per month)

    • Spasticity (of both the upper and lower limbs)

  • Teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and TMJ are painful conditions that Botox has also been effective in treating, although these uses have not been FDA-approved.

  • Acne may not be a debilitating health condition, but it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable to endure. Botox has proven to be effective in treating acne by reducing sebaceous gland activity, although it is not approved by the FDA for this purpose and is considered an off-label use.

  • Overactive bladder impacts nearly 20% of older women. When treated with Botox, participants in this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine experienced fewer episodes. When injected into the bladder, Botox increases its storage capacity, effectively reducing urinary incontinence episodes. It was approved for this use by the FDA in 2013.

  • Anxiety is the most common psychiatric disorder, and it can be debilitating for the 32% of the U.S. population who suffer from it. In two studies published in Scientific Reports, Botox was shown to be effective in reducing both depression and anxiety. When injected into the face, head, upper or lower limbs, and neck, Botox reduced participants’ anxiety between 22% and 72%. In the studies, Botox reduced participants’ depression, regardless of where it was injected. These are still off-label Botox uses, and have not been FDA approved.

  • Gastrointestinal issues can be painful and uncomfortable to deal with, causing abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting. In clinical trials , Botox was shown to be somewhat effective in treating gastroparesis, or delayed gastric emptying. When injected into the valve between the stomach and the small intestine, it was effective in 40% of patients, and resulted in a 38% reduction in symptoms. In patients who had surgery for esophageal cancer, Botox was shown to be 90% effective in treating their gastrointestinal symptoms, though not FDA-approved for these uses.

Risks and Side Effects Of Botox

Botox is widely considered a safe and effective treatment, and largely devoid of serious side effects, particularly when used for cosmetic purposes.

The most common side effects when Botox is used for cosmetic treatments include temporary pain and bruising at the injection site, headaches, eyelid drooping, dry eyes, or severe tearing, double vision, increased sensitivity to light , crooked smile, drooling, numbness, and flu-like symptoms.

The potential for serious side effects is higher for therapeutic treatments, in part because the doses are as much as four times higher for these treatments.

Serious side effects, while rare, can occur, and can be life-threatening. Those include allergic reactions, botulism, and anaphylactic shock.

No long-term or life-threatening side effects have been reported when using Botox for cosmetic treatments.

When used properly, and in the right hands, the incidence of complications with Botox is low.

Remember to always do your homework and use a licensed professional for any Botox treatments and provide them with your medical history, including any other cosmetic treatments you have had, allergies, medications you are on, and any reactions you may have had to other treatments.

Botox in an unskilled hand can lead to negative results.

Conclusion

With all the research showing the many health issues that Botox can effectively treat, there is absolutely no shame in using Botox. You can look younger and feel healthier and happier with the help of a little Botox.

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