How does Botox work for migraine headaches

Botox for migraines

As a beauty product, it has long since achieved its triumphant advance - now Botox is about to start a new career:

Medicines for migraines

Migraines are strongly pulsating headaches that occur as attacks and on one side. This is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and noise. About 30% of the population, mostly women, regularly suffer from this extreme form of pain for up to 16 days a month.

Help comes from America. A few years ago, US scientists made an accidental discovery: they noticed a positive side effect of the anti-wrinkle treatment with the well-known beauty preparation Botox. The migraine sufferers among the beauty seekers had fewer headaches. There was a clear improvement in the clinical picture.

What are the triggers of migraines?

Chronic daily headaches (CDH) and migraines are complex clinical pictures that have various causes. There are a variety of triggers that lead to migraine attacks. Migraines can be genetic or hormonal (menstruation / pregnancy). Certain foods or stimulants can cause a migraine attack, e.g. B. Alcohol and nicotine. Lack of sleep, strenuous exercise, and stress can all cause migraines. People who are very sensitive to the weather often react with excruciating headaches. Overstimulation from computers and television, flickering, glaring light and a lack of minerals and fluids are also among the triggering factors.

How does botox work against migraines?

The neurotoxin botulinum toxin inhibits the transmission of excitation from the nerve cells to the muscle. If you want to weaken the involuntary movements of certain muscles, you inject the preparation into this muscle. This blocks the nerve-muscle transmission and the movement disorder is not passed on to the muscle.

So if botox is injected into a muscle in small amounts, it has a targeted effect on the nerve impulses and causes a temporary relaxation of the muscle activity. Botox injections into the pressure points of the head and the neck muscles can relieve the headache and even completely relieve pain. The treatment is suitable for patients for whom conventional therapy methods, medication or relaxation exercises show little or no effect. The basic requirement is that the pain can be wholly or partially attributed to muscle tension.

Botox therapy is suitable as a prophylactic treatment method against CDH and migraines. The effectiveness lasts for a few months. Once the desired results have been achieved, the application can be repeated.

Risks and Side Effects

No allergic reactions are known. Other risks and side effects can be virtually ruled out when used by an experienced doctor. In some people, however, it does not work. You have or produce antibodies against Botox. The costs of the treatment are not covered by the health insurance companies.

In any case, it is advisable to have a precise diagnosis carried out in advance in order to choose the most suitable treatment option.


In addition to the primary headaches such as CDH and migraines, there is also the group of secondary headaches. While in the former the pain itself is the disease, the secondary or symptomatic headache indicates another disease. Symptomatic headaches can include: B. Signs of meningitis or frontal and sinus suppuration. Our focus is on the primary headache.

Background information

For years, scientists have been concerned with the question of whether and - if so - why botulinum toxin is effective against chronic headaches and migraines. Obviously, the changed vascular tone plays a role in successful application and the toxin helps with its relaxing effect.

A study by the American neurologist Stephen D. Silberstein shows that the number of headache days of the subjects was shown to be reduced if they received a botulinum toxin injection every three months. He also found that the average pain intensity decreased and accompanying symptoms such as vomiting decreased. Serious side effects could not be observed.

The US medical technology group Allergan Inc., the manufacturer of Botox®, has published positive data from a clinical study. Two phase III clinical studies have shown that BOTOX is suitable as a prophylactic treatment for adults with chronic migraines. As part of the clinical studies, it was found that there was a statistically significant reduction in migraine days in the patients treated with BOTOX.

A new, large-scale study, in which the Essen Headache Center also took part, found that botulinum toxin injected into the forehead, temples, neck and shoulders of patients has an effect on chronic migraines.