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Beyond Botox

Sure, Botox is known for smoothing over wrinkles by relaxing the underlying muscles, but what else can it do? The FDA has already approved the neurotoxin as a treatment for migraines, overactive bladder, excessive sweating, and even certain types of muscle spasms. And Allergen, the owners of Botox, are looking into what else the drug can accomplish. Can it, for example, drive carpools, make quesadillas, or change sheets? Doctor, can Botox walk my dog? No, sadly, it can’t.

They do believe it can, however, treat depression. In a recent 258-patient study of adult women they found that those given 30 units of Botox showed a decrease in symptoms of depression. No one knows yet exactly how or why this is effective, but one possibility is the facial feedback hypotheses. This theory states that relaxing and releasing the muscles around the eyes and forehead that are used to express sadness, anger, and fear, eases depression. A 2006 study in the Journal of Dermatology found this to be true in 9 out of 10 patients treated with Botox.

So, while you’re going to have to keep looking around for that quesadilla-making, dog-walking machine, with any luck the people at Allergen will get FDA approval to treat depression with Botox and find it to be as effective as it is in treating migraines because a world with fewer migraines and less depression would be a really great thing.

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