Botulinum Toxin, also known as Botox, is an acetylcholine inhibitor secreted in small amounts by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium Botulinum. The toxin causes flaccid muscle paralysis, manifested in stomach cramps, intestinal disturbances, and blurred vision. Death usually ensues within three days. The bacteria is most commonly found in anaerobically packaged foods (canned beans, etc) that have not been properly packaged. The Clostridium Botulinum bacteria is closely related to Clostridium Tetani, which causes tetanus (lockjaw).

Botox is the most poisonous chemical known to man, with a lethal dosage of 1 microgram. For comparison, VX nerve gas (remember the movie The Rock?) has a lethal dosage of 10 milligrams, and ricin (found in castor beans) has a lethal dosage of 1 milligram. Botulinum Toxin has been considered as a chemical/biological weapons threat, although it is somewhat more difficult to produce than alternatives.

Curiously enough, some people pay large sums of money every few months to have small amounts of botox injected into their faces, to smooth out their wrinkles. I'd rather just look my age, thank you very much.

Your weatherman can't move his eyebrows:
Apparently, nearly all actors and TV anchorpeople can't move their eyebrows or upper facial muscles, because they've all had botox injections. This is apparently angering many movie directors, since the actors can't emote.

Botox is also said to still mild muscle spasms and is rumored to help migraine headaches (although the latter hasn't been approved). The FDA has also approved it's use in treating Cervical Dystonia. I've also heard rumors that it's supposed to become available over-the-counter.

This news comes with so many other news stories about accidental overdoses and hospital errors. Be very, very frightened, Arthur Dent.

m4c837h reports that Iraq manufactured enough of the stuff to give a facelift to kill the human race 1000 times over, in a single factory. Maybe it's not that hard to manufacture after all.

An Interesting statistic, botulinum is so deadly, that eight ounces distributed correctly could kill every organism on the face of the earth.

Botulinum is also the first bio-toxin, though, to be licensed for the treatment of human disease. It is currently used to treat cervical torticollis, strabismus, and blepharospasm. Where 2,700 units of botulinum is enough to cause botulism, only 20 to 25 units are used in a typical treatment.

-Washington University Newsletter

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