Botox also known as Botulinum toxin type A, comes from the bacteria which causes botulism. However, in small doses, it’s safely used by doctors to treat a variety of medical conditions. The drug is used for muscle spasms such as spasms in the eye muscles. Doctors sometimes treat patients with overactive bladder and incontinence due to medical conditions such as multiple sclerosis. Botulinum toxin is most commonly known as a cosmetic remedy for wrinkles.
In what could be a medical breakthrough, studies indicate that many doctors are now using Botulinum toxin as a treatment for weight loss. The therapy to help people lose weight involves injections into the stomach wall with the drug. A few things happen when the injections are used. First, the stomach contracts and slows down the digestive process. When it takes longer to digest food it remains in your stomach longer. You feel fuller for a longer period of time since you’re eating less, and you’re not as likely to snack between meals.
According to studies, the procedure works the best in dieters who have a smaller amount of weight to lose; approximately 20 to 30 pounds. Doctors that have treated patients with the injections say they work most effectively when the patient makes changes in their diet and gets moderate exercise. Dietary changes and exercise maximize the effect of the injections. The Food MD states that the injections of Botox at the start of a weight loss program along with some changes in lifestyle can help patients to lose weight fast during the initial stage.
Researchers in Norway believe that the drug works to promote weight loss by blocking one of the nerves in the stomach that controls the urge to eat. Doctors injected Botox into the stomach of patients with a body mass index of between 35 and 44. An endoscope was used for the injections and to view the lower portion of the stomach. Injections were administered to patients at six-month intervals.
After the first year when all the patients had gotten two injections, 70 percent had lost up to 17 percent of their excess weight. After a year and a half, 75 percent of all the patients had lost at least 28 percent of their extra weight. Although the injections were used on a small group of subjects, the results look promising and could be more widely used as a treatment for obesity.
In an earlier study, results concluded that the patients in the study group didn’t lose weight. However, the patients only had one injection of the drug and were only followed for a few months. The later study followed the results of the patients for a longer period, and they had more injections than the original group. The second study is the one in which the researchers concluded that there’s a connection between the vagus nerve in the stomach and the brain.
Their conclusion was based on research in which the vagus nerve in rats was cut. The rats whose nerve was cut didn’t lose any weight. However, another group of animals was treated with the injections, and the nerve left intact. That group of animals did lose weight. Blocking the nerve by using the drug blocked the feedback between the brain and the stomach.
Although side effects weren’t reported in the group of patients that were part of the year and a half study, in some rare cases, there could be side effects in some patients. When used by experienced physicians, Botulinum toxin type A is safe for most people for weight loss.
Botulinum toxin type A injections into the muscles of the stomach cause a form of temporary paralysis in the muscles. Food remains in the stomach longer, which is a signal to the brain that it’s time to slow down how much food is consumed. The treatments could be very helpful to people with severe obesity. Cosmetic centers that offer aesthetic services may also administer the injections.