Who invented Botox? The deadly origins of this commonly used drug.

Who invented Botox? The deadly origins of this commonly used drug.

Botox, the wonder drug in the skincare and beauty industry, has an interesting origin story. So, to understand where it all began, let’s start at the beginning.

The Scientist Behind The Discovery Of Botox

The scientist who is said to be the father of botox was not a cosmetic surgeon. Dr. Alan B. Scott was an eye surgeon (an ophthalmologist). Little did he know that he would come across the magic drug that has helped men and women embrace their aging process.

Dr. Alan Scott unfortunately passed away on 16th December, 2021, due to ill health and old age, but in his 89 years of  life, he did a lot for the medical and cosmetic worlds.


The Infamous Food Poisoning Incident: 

In 1820 in Germany, 13 people fell seriously ill. It was so serious that six of these people died. It turned out that they had eaten a sausage which was the carrier of infection and the consumption of that sausage led to food poisoning. Justinus Kerner, who was the district medical officer at the time did his research and found that the agent of this chaos that caused the food poisoning was something he referred to as the fatty poison or the sausage poison. This “poison” became the central theme of his research for a few years, and he found that this toxin had some therapeutic properties as well. This toxin had some paralytic effects and could possibly be used as a treatment for neural conditions. This was the very beginning of the drug called Botox we know today.

The Belgian Funeral Dinner: 

After a funeral dinner held in a small village in Belgium in 1895, there was a bacterial outbreak. The key suspect in this outbreak was the ham that was served that day for dinner. A Belgian microbiologist named Emile Pierre van Ermengem was the one to identify the pathogen and named it Clostridium botulinum. This pathogen was named after the word sausage in Latin, “botulus.”

World War II:

During World War II, the US government got their hands on Clostridium botulinum and started researching how to use it as a bioweapon for the war. It might seem crazy that the drug now commonly used for cosmetic purposes was once used as a weapon for war! But this is the crazy and true story behind the discovery of Botox.

The Initial Usage Of Botox:

The father of the drug, Dr. Alan Scott, got hold of Clostridium botulinum and started experimenting with it for therapeutic purposes. As mentioned earlier, Dr. Scott was an eye surgeon, and he saw that the paralytic effect of the drug could be used for therapeutic purposes. So he injected the substance in the eye muscles of a patient who had pulled those muscles, so that he could relax them and bring them back to normal. This experimental procedure was a huge success, and this is where the cosmetic use of Botox started.

Botox, as we know it now, had very unusual beginnings, but now it is a staple when it comes to cosmetic medicine. But, apart from just making your face appear more youthful, this drug has many other purposes, like: 

  • Curing neck spasms
  • Helping with excessive sweating
  • Easing an overactive bladder
  • Curing lazy eye syndrome
  • Helping with chronic migraines

How Does Botox Work?

Botox temporarily relaxes the clenched muscles of the body. These clenched muscles of the face are what cause wrinkles, so when Botox is injected in those clenched muscles, they become relaxed, hence reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines on the face.


The procedure in itself is pretty painless. It involves a thin needle which is used to inject the drug into the selected muscles.

What Are The Side-effects Of Botox Injections?

Some people who use Botox have experienced side-effects like extended pain in the injected area, swelling in  the injected area, excessive headaches, some symptoms like the common flu, and excessive droopiness in the injected area. 

While these symptoms are not so uncommon, there are some other side-effects which if you experience them, you need to contact a doctor immediately. These side effects are weakness in the injected muscles, impaired vision for a prolonged period of time, difficulty in eating, swallowing, difficulty talking, issues while breathing, and loss of control over the bladder. 

If you are planning to book an appointment to get your first dose of Botox for cosmetic or medical reasons, it is good practice to always consult your medical professional before you go ahead and do it. 

The procedure in itself is very simple, and takes only a couple of minutes. You will be given a shot with a thin needle in the area of your choice. You will see the full magical effect of Botox after a week or two. Before that, you may experience some minor side-effects. Make sure you are not rubbing or scratching the area of injection for at least 1-2 days.

A single shot of Botox can last up to 3-6 months, depending on the site of application and dosage.

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