FDA approves Botox for Migraines: A good choice? Other safe options?

Botox has been traditionally used for reducing wrinkles.  Botox which is derived  from the bacterium Clostridium Botulinum and can be deadly to humans has now been approved by the FDA (US Federal Drug Administration) for migraine headaches.  Botox works by paralyzing muscles that cause wrinkles.  When it comes to migraines, medical doctors will  be injecting botox around the head and neck to reduce headache symptoms.   Is this a good thing??

FDA’s approval was based on 2 studies which showed that botox patients experienced 7.8 fewer days of migraine headaches whereas the placebo group (sugar pill injection) experienced 6.4 fewer days of migraine headaches.  Does it make sense to make a recommendation on 2 studies?  Generally when a medication is approved by the FDA, it has to go through several trials -first animals, then humans.   In addition is there a significant difference between the real drug and the placebo? To me, it seems the placebo and true drug effect were vary close.  Plus, botox is only addressing the muscle tension associated with migraine headaches and not the true characterization of migraine heaadaches which includes intense pounding in the head mixed with nausea, vomitting and sensitivity to light.

And what about botox side effects? Among the side effects associated with botox are:

1.heartburn

2.hypertension

3.difficulty swallowing

4.vertical misalignment of the eye

5.upper respiratory infection

6.neck pain -yes NECK PAIN!!

7.headaches – yes HEADACHES!!!

So what about safer, alternative options?

Other safe options include acupuncture, and diet therapies.  With respect to acupuncture, it involves the insetion of needles into the body to promote health.  It can provide effective pain relief for migraines by addressing the various causes of migraines headaches such as hormone imblance, stress, insomnia and weather changes.  With respect to diet therapies, migraine patient might be allergic to certain compounds in cheese and milk products called tyramines or sulfites found in wines.  Other allergens can be determined through allergy elimination diet. Unlike botox injections acupuncture and diet therapies do not produce harmful side effects.

To read more about the FDA’s newest drug approval, go to http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/10/15/migraines.botox/index.html?eref=edition

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About Aroop Banerji N.D., L.Ac

Aroop Banerji N.D.., L.Ac is a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist. He obtained his bachelor science in Environmental Toxicology from the University of California – Davis. He pursued doctoral education in Naturopathic Medicine and graduate level training in Chinese Medicine at Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. He specializes in using dietary supplements, diet therapies, herbal medicines, and acupuncture for chronic health complaints.
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