A. That recent article was not the first to make this suggestion, but it is getting press because it is the latest, and the most scientifically sound. It was placebo controlled, meaning some in the study merely got sterile normal saline injected. In addition, surprisingly, patients did not guess correctly if they got Botox or the placebo, but the ones who did get the Botox had improvement of their depression. The patients on the “control” or placebo side did not. This could be related to Botox’s effect on neurotransmitter uptake and/or the muscles being relaxed, having a feedback to the brain improving brain chemistry in the depressed. This certainly warrants further study, but needless to say it suggests yet another benefit to this amazing drug.
Q. If Botox is a toxin, how can it be safe?
A. I am asked this question often. Many things in nature can have therapeutic effects in tiny doses, but the same drug found in nature (after all, Botox is a purified protein found in nature) can have toxic effects at high doses. Modern medical scientific research has found many compounds in nature to improve illness. One of my favorites is digitalis, a heart drug to improve the ejection of blood from a failing heart. This drug was found in nature and is also toxic in some doses, yet saves the lives and improves the quality of lives in millions with congestive heart failure every day when used in tiny doses.
Q. Is there a new competitor to Botox?
A. Yes, Merz US distributes Xeomin, a new neuromodulators. In clinical trial it behaved similarly to Botox. I have used it in any patient who wants to try it to compare and see if it might work better or longer than Botox in them.
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