BOTOX® is the brand name of a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In large amounts, this toxin can cause a form of muscle paralysis known as botulism, which is usually associated with food poisoning. Even though one of the most serious complications of botulism is paralysis, scientists have discovered a way to use it to human advantage. Small, diluted (weakened) amounts can be directly injected into specific muscles, causing controlled relaxation of the muscles.
But it could be something else altogether. In 2008, Matteo Caleo, a researcher at the Italian National Research Council's Institute of Neuroscience in Pisa, published a controversial study showing that when he injected the muscles of rats with Botox, he found evidence of the drug in the brain stem. He also injected Botox into one side of the brain in mice and found that it spread to the opposite side. That suggested the toxin could access the nervous system and the brain.
Khalaf Bushara and David Park were the first to demonstrate a nonmuscular use of BTX-A while treating patients with hemifacial spasm in England in 1993, showing that botulinum toxin injections inhibit sweating, and so are useful in treating hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). BTX-A has since been approved for the treatment of severe primary axillary hyperhidrosis (excessive underarm sweating of unknown cause), which cannot be managed by topical agents.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you: have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; weakness of forehead muscles; trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® passes into breast milk).
BOTOX® treats the symptoms of severe underarm sweating when topical medicines do not work well enough in people 18 years and older. It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective for severe sweating anywhere other than your armpits. BOTOX® treatments temporarily block the chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate the sweat glands, resulting in reduced sweating.