Botox, or botulinum toxin type A, is one of the most used non-surgical treatments in the United States. In 2006, sales surpassed $1 billion. It has been used to treat both cosmetic and medical ailments, including muscle spasms, excessive sweating, and forehead and eye wrinkles. But this versatile treatment has humble roots; it was discovered by studying moldy foods. Here is a short history of Botox, from its initial discovery to its modern-day applications:


German scientists Dr. Kerner was studying spoiled meats in an effort to understand food poisoning. Dr. Kerner came across the first strains of what became known as the botulinum toxin.


More than seventy years later, another scientist, Émile van Ermengem, building off Dr. Kerner’s work, discovered seven distinct strains of the botulinum toxin, including the bacterium Bacillus botulinum. He also determined that four of these strains were toxic to human beings. Still, he and his fellow researchers were intrigued by the potential medical and therapeutic applications of some of the strains.


Herman Sommer, M.D. isolated Botulinum Toxin Type A into a purified form as a stable acid precipitate.


Scientists discovered small amounts of certain strains of botulinum toxin injected into spasming muscles relaxed them immediately.


The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a strain of botulinum, type A, to treat facial and vocal spasms. With its approval, the treatment got a new, easier-to-pronounce name: Botox.


Botox became so popular that it became sold out across America.


A special formulation of Botox called Botox Cosmetic was approved by the FDA to improve cosmetic imperfections such as frown lines between the eyebrows, laugh lines, and under-eye wrinkles.


Doctors across the country continued to research the uses of Botox. In 2004, the FDA approved it to treat primary axillary hyperhidrosis, a type of underarm sweating that does not respond well to topical treatments.
Today, Botox continues to be used by doctors across the country to treat several ailments and treat certain cosmetic imperfections.