Botox is the most popular in-office treatment for wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin, but does it come with any health effects? This article discusses whether or not someone with autoimmune disease should receive Botox and offers natural solutions to pesky forehead wrinkles, frown lines and crow’s feet.
First, let’s discuss what Botox is…
Before I head into how Botox can potentially affect someone with autoimmune disease, let’s discuss what this toxin is capable of when interacting with the human body. Ingested or inhaled botulinum toxin is a neurotoxic spore that in minuscule amounts can be fatal. Symptoms include slurred speech, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness and lethargy. This is why babies under 1 are advised to not eat honey – their digestive tracts are not mature enough to fight off potentially contaminated food from the botulinum toxin.
Botox injections contain a very, very tiny amount of a specific strain of botulinum that paralyzes the muscles of the face to smooth fine lines, wrinkles and crow’s feet. It is even used by 20 and 30-something’s to prevent aging. The results only last 3 to 6 months which means Botox users get between 2 to 4 treatments a year, for decades and decades, if they want to maintain the results. Treatments cost anywhere between $400 to $1000, sometimes more, depending on how many injections you receive.
The industry is projected at an annual gross of 2.5 BILLION dollars while 4 to 5 million Americans receive Botox injections per year. You can bet that if 50 million Americans have autoimmune disease (as estimated by the AARDA), there is overlap between Botox users and the AI population, particularly because 80% of those with autoimmune disease are women (and who is most often looking for anti-aging solutions?)
What else is it used for besides fine lines, wrinkles & crow’s feet?
Botox is also indicated on and off label for chronic migraines, spastic cerebral palsy, excessive sweating, acne and TMJ disorder. I had a few Instagram followers message me that they have used Botox in the past for migraines. All 3 said they did not find relief from Botox and 2 out of the 3 said Botox gave them terrible, painful, long-lasting autoimmune disease flares. Of course, this is anecdotal, but nonetheless interesting.
Botox’ insert warns the following autoimmune populations about serious adverse side effects…
People with autoimmune diseases that affect the neurological system like ALS, MS and Myasthenia Gravis, should be particularly aware of the mechanisms and risks with Botox. The Botox website states that patients with ALS, MG, and Lambert-Eaton Syndrome need to be cautious of the potential for increased risk of serious side effects such as breathing difficulties and difficulty swallowing.
*Please be sure to make your Botox practitioner aware of all existing autoimmune disorders as well as pre-existing autoimmune episodes caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome.*
Let’s look at the existing science on the relationship between Botox and autoimmune disease patients…
Limited longitudinal data or correlative studies exist examining the long-term health outcomes of Botox use on the autoimmune disease population or the general population.
Yet, a single subject study on a woman with Hashimoto’s who received Botox treatments over a decade-long timespan found a possible correlation between injections and a rise in her TSH post-injection.
These researchers examined the structure of the Botox and thyroid auto antibodies, which are the key indicators of the immune system’s attack on the thyroid. They found similarities between the epitopes of Botox and thyroid antobodies, indicating that Botox injections potentially increase the possibility of molecular mimicry – or the immune system mistaking Botox antigens for thyroid antigens.
Currently, not enough evidence exists to determine whether or not Botox is safe for patients with autoimmune disease, but just because something has not been proven, does not mean a relationship does not exist. This is where we each need to make our own informed decisions, and that will be different for each individual.
As autoimmune disease patients, we need to make our own informed decisions about allowing known toxins into our bloodstream. Here’s why:
It is widely known that environmental factors account for 67% of autoimmune disease risk while genetics only account for 1/3.
Autoimmune disease causal factors may include exposure to environmental toxins (including heavy metals, viruses and vaccines), nutritional deficiencies, blood sugar issues, antibiotic use, GMO and pesticide exposure and bacterial infections).
Now, if we know that the majority of autoimmune disease risk & potentially disease progression comes from our environment, then it makes sense to limit our exposure to environmental toxins. I don’t need a randomized, double blind, causative study to tell me that.
Thankfully, safer alternatives exist for decreasing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and loss of elasticity, if you do decide that Botox isn’t the right option for you. I have personally tested each of these natural solutions to anti-aging when you want to avoid Botox, fillers or expensive laser procedures.
NATURE ANTI-AGING SKINCARE SOLUTIONS FOR FINE LINES, WRINKLES, CROW’S FEET AND LOSS OF ELASTICITY
AT-HOME MICRODERMABRASION FACIAL
This at-home gentle microdermabrasion deeply exfoliates and softens skin, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and helps with hyper-pigmentation from scarring and sun damage.
The Skin Obsessions Microdermabrasion Crystals make skin smooth as a baby’s while the luxuriously nutrient-dense Cleansing Balm creates a protective barrier for skin from the crystals.
I also use Beautycounter’s Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm as my multi-tasker, plant-based cleanser, makeup remover (even eye makeup!) and overnight moisturizing mask. It is the most lux safer skincare product I have ever owned and smells like a field of roses and geranium.
HOW TO USE:
Combine 1/4 teaspoon Skin Obsessions Microdermabrasion Crystals with a pea-size amount of Beautycounter’s Cleansing Balm. Wet face with warm water. Massage the exfoliating paste gently into your face and neck for 60 seconds, avoiding eyes and mouth. Rinse away with a warm wet wash cloth. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following.
TWO TYPES OF AT-HOME PEELS: ONE FOR DAILY MAINTENANCE AND ONE FOR WEEKLY USE
Beautycounter’s Overnight Resurfacing Peel for daily maintenance
This is Beautycounter’s best-selling product! The Overnight Resurfacing Peel is a treat-while-you-sleep serum containing 15 alpha hydroxyl acids that work like a facial in a bottle. They increase cellular turnover, resurfacing the skin to reduce the appearance of fine lines, sun spots, scarring, hyperpigmentation, acne, and dullness. The Peel also works to increase elasticity and collagen production. Apply it to cleansed and toned skin 3-4 nights a week, following with your nightly moisturizing routine. In the morning, gently cleanse skin to remove all the dead skin cells the Peel sloughed off – the Nourishing Cream Exfoliator is excellent for this!
Skin Obsessions’ 85% Lactic Acid Peel for weekly maintenance
This is for the more advanced at-home DIYer as it resurfaces skin, decreasing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, acne, scarring, hyper-pigmentation and dullness. It can be used 1x a week to 1x a month, depending on skin sensitivity and results goal. Follow directions included in your affordable at-home peel package. Use SPF protection if going out in sun for 24 hours following & avoid prolonged sun exposure during this time as well. Do not use if pregnant. I feel comfortable using 1x a month while breastfeeding, but that’s a decision you need to make for yourself.
MY FAVORITE AGE-REVERSING AND AGE-PREVENTION SKINCARE ROUTINE
Beautycounter is my all-time favorite safer skincare line because of their dedication to safer, contaminant-tested and high-performance skincare products. They are the skincare company for the woman who cares about her skin AND cares about her health and does not want to make sacrifices in either.
Their newest skincare line is the Countertime Collection (counter…time… get it?!) and it features their own safer alternative to Retinol called Retinatural! Read this article for why you don’t want to be using Retinol in your safer skincare routine.
This Retinatural Complex is derived from two anti-aging plant powerhouses: Bakuchiol and Swiss Alpine Rose Extract. Take a look at some of the impressive results below! I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in skin clarity and brightness, melasma, dark spots, the fine line across my forehead and crow’s feet. My skin has never been softer, brighter or smoother. I will be eternally grateful for Beautycounter’s safer skincare scientists!
Here’s some additional information on Countertime, if you’re looking for a health-conscious age-reversing skincare routine:
Finally… skin health is more than just what we put on our skin… it’s also what we put on our bodies! I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my whole body health, including my skin health, with the below diet and supplement inclusions!
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH FOOD: DIETARY INTAKE AND SUPPLEMENTATION OF OMEGA 3 FISH OIL
Increasing your dietary intake of coldwater fatty fish like wild-caught salmon (my fave!) and small bottom feeders like sardines and mackarel can help restore plumpness and vitality to skin. It is even thought to help with the prevention and reduction of fine lines and wrinkles as well as combat acne with its anti-inflammatory properties.
If you’re getting less than 1 or 2 servings of the above fish in your diet each week, consider taking a high quality fish oil supplement. I personally take Vital Choice Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Oil + Vitamin D3. Bonus: I’ve noticed more stable mood while taking it!