Botulinum toxin is a perfect example of a small amount of poison going a long way. Versions of botulinum toxin available in South Africa go by the trade name Botox® or Dysport for injectable aesthetic procedures. Too much of this toxin will be really bad for your health, however a small amount injected into the right spots by a well-trained Medical Doctor, such as those available at Skin, Body & Health Renewal clinics, is absolutely great for reducing dynamic facial wrinkles! What you may not know is that it is also used for a wide range of medical conditions that can improve a person’s quality of life tremendously.
First used in 1981 for a medical condition, research immediately expanded and the botulinum toxin soon became famous. At this time it was seen as the best thing since sliced bread, especially when they discovered it solved many minor cosmetic problems and was even called the ‘miracle poison’! I agree about the miracle part, not many of us can claim that we have never resorted to a bit of help from nature’s poison.
Mode of Action
It’s rather simple; injecting small amounts of botulinum toxin blocks communication between nerves and muscles, resulting in the muscles relaxing. Apart from cosmetic use, it can offer relief from excessive sweating of the hands, feet and underarms, can relieve clenching of the jaw, aid migraine sufferers and alleviate many other conditions that make life difficult.
It was accidentally discovered that patients who suffered from migraines, but who had had Botox®/ Dysport injections to reduce their frown lines and forehead wrinkles, found that their migraines improved after treatment.
It is possible that botulinum toxin may affect the nerve cell’s signalling system that registers the perception of pain. Treatment of chronic migraines with botulinum toxin appears to be effective and lasts for about six to nine months. However, it does not seem to work for episodic migraines and each person will experience the lasting results differently. Within a day, patients will start feeling the effects and the migraines and headaches usually start reducing within a week.
Bruxism is characterised by the grinding of teeth while sleeping. It can lead to morning headaches or migraines, aching facial muscles and a sore jaw as a result of the constant clenching that usually accompanies this affliction. Some people are not even aware of the problem and would only be diagnosed when their dentist sees the damage done to their teeth, or when their partner’s sleep is disturbed as a result of the sufferer’s teeth gnashing. Bruxism is considered a habitual behaviour and a sleep disorder.
A delicate balance between the amount and the placement of the Botox® / Dysport is essential for optimal effect. The placement is crucial as it must weaken the muscle sufficiently to reduce the grinding and clenching but not excessively, so that the proper action of the muscle is maintained. These injections must be repeated every six months, but by the time they have had their second treatment, this bad habit is usually broken.
Palmar and Underarm Hyperhidrosis
Excessive sweating of the palms and under the arms are two things to which most of us can relate. It always gets worse when you are excessively stressed; the boss is bearing down on you, or worse, when you really want to make a good impression! However, for some people it is so bad that they physically drip with perspiration which can really be embarrassing and inconvenient. This over activity of the sweat glands is considered a medical problem.
Although sweat glands are found everywhere on the body (with higher concentrations on the palms, soles of the feet, face and under the arms) and perspiring is essential to regulate our body temperature, too much of a good thing can make life very difficult for sufferers.
This excessive sweating could be triggered by exercise, extreme temperatures of heat or cold, alcohol, caffeine, smoking, hot or spicy food and even strong emotions.
Treatment for the palms and soles of feet with Botox®/Dysport injections is simple and effective. It involves a few injections into the area where the sweating is the worst; this will block the action of nerves that supply the sweat glands and will stop these glands from producing sweat.
Treatment for the armpits (axillary area) is very similar; small doses are injected into the skin, which blocks the action of the eccrine glands to prevent them from producing sweat.
In all treated areas the effect will wear off after a few months, but the treatment can be repeated as necessary. This treatment certainly helps people cope with an embarrassing problem and give them back the confidence to wave “Hello”! What are you waiting for?