Botulinum toxin is the purified form of a poison created by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. These bacteria grow in improperly canned food and cause botulismpoisoning. Minute amounts of the purified form can be injected into muscles to prevent them from contracting; it is used in this way to treat a wide variety of disorders and cosmetic conditions.
Botulinum toxin was developed to treat strabismus (cross-eye or lazy eye), and was shortly thereafter discovered to be highly effective for many forms of dystonia. Spasticity can also be effectively treated with botulinum toxin. Injected into selected small muscles of the face, it can reduce wrinkling. Other conditions treated with botulinum toxin include:
It is important to note that as of early 2004, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved uses for botulinum toxin are for certain forms of dystonia, hemifacial spasm, strabismus, blepharospasm (eyelid spasms), and certain types of facial wrinkles. While there is general recognition that certain other conditions can be effectively treated with botulinum toxin, other uses, including for headache or migraine, are considered experimental.
Richard Robinson, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,