Beauty is pain—or, in the case of Botox, beauty is temporary pain followed by complete (muscle) relaxation. Each year, hundreds of thousands of women and men pay a visit to their derm and go under the needle in the name of smooth, wrinkle-less skin; in fact, Botox sales have soared past the $3 billion mark over the past decade. We’ve already covered the basics of Botox, but there are still quite a few things we were surprised to find out about the now-commonplace procedure. Like it’s somewhat sordid past, or the fact that it can help with depression or your sweaty underarm problem. Curious? Keep scrolling for six weird, little-known Botox facts you didn’t know.
In case you didn’t know, Botox is actually the brand name of a particular strain of neurotoxin called the botulinum toxin. And how exactly was this neurotoxin discovered? Way back in the 1820s, a certain Justinus Kerner was trying to figure out why a batch of blood sausages ended up poisoning several dozen Germans. Turns out, there was a toxin in the meat that caused their deaths. Kerner dubbed his discovery “botulism” from the Latin root botulus, which means sausage, and the rest is history. So yeah—not exactly dinner party conversation but still interesting, no?
You might think of Botox as strictly a beauty procedure, but it has quite the sordid past. At the beginning of World War II, the U.S. began researching biological weapons, including—yup, you guessed it—botulinum toxin. According to this article in the International Journal of Dermatology, one plan involved using Chinese prostitutes to slip tiny toxic pills of botulinum toxin into the food and drinks of high-ranking Japanese officers. The gelatin capsules were produced, but the plan was never carried out—which was probably for the best.
If you’ve sweat through your shirt more times than you can count, help is here…in the form of Botox. Yup, you can get Botox injected into the sweat glands under your skin to temporarily block chemical signals from the nerves that stimulate sweat glands. The results last about seven to eight months—talk to your derm and see if it’s a good option for you.
Here’s a crazy botox fact—early testing has shown that one Botox injection can help treat depression. Why? Think of it this way—your emotions are tied to your facial muscles and expressions, so relaxing your face muscles disrupts this connection. In this study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, researcher M. Axel Wollmer says he believes Botox “interrupts feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in the development and maintenance of negative emotions.”
When Botox is injected into specific muscles, it blocks signals that cause unnecessary muscle tightening, which is the cause of chronic pain. A 2014 study showed that Botox injections significantly improved pain levels and overall quality of life for those who suffered from chronic neck pain.
Botox actually received FDA approval in 2010 to be used as a treatment for migraine headaches. The weird thing is, no one is quite sure why it eases migraine symptoms—the most popular theory is that it prevents pain signals from reaching your nerve endings. Talk to your doctor if you suffer from migraines, and want to know if Botox is a good option for you.
Were you surprised by any of these Botox facts? Any we missed? Sound off below!
Walker TJ, Dayan SH. Comparison and overview of currently available neurotoxins. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(2):31–39.
Ali FR, Al-Niaimi F. Justinus Kerner and sausage poisoning: the birth of botulinum toxin. Int J Dermatol. 2016;55(11):1295–1296. doi:10.1111/ijd.13364
Kopera D. Botulinum toxin historical aspects: from food poisoning to pharmaceutical. Int J Dermatol. 2011;50(8):976–980. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2010.04821.x
Wu CJ, Chang CK, Wang CY, Liao YS, Chen SG. Efficacy and safety of botulinum toxin A in axillary bromhidrosis and associated histological changes in sweat glands: a prospective randomized double-blind side-by-side comparison clinical study. Dermatol Surg. 2019;45(12):1605–609. doi:10.1097/DSS.0000000000001906
Finzi E, Rosenthal NE. Treatment of depression with onabotulinumtoxinA: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res. 2014;52:1‐6. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2013.11.006
Nicol AL, Wu II, Ferrante FM. Botulinum toxin type a injections for cervical and shoulder girdle myofascial pain using an enriched protocol design. Anesth Analg. 2014;118(6):13260–1335. doi:10.1213/ANE.0000000000000192
Escher CM, Paracka L, Dressler D, Kollewe K. Botulinum toxin in the management of chronic migraine: clinical evidence and experience. Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2017;10(2):127–135. doi:10.1177/1756285616677005