Skip to main content

The history of Botulinum toxin: from poison to beauty


Botulinum toxin, also called the “miracle toxin,” is a neurotoxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum. It is known to block nerve signals that contract muscles resulting in a temporary paralysis of the muscles. Toxins type A and B have been extensively studied and utilized in the realm of beauty and cosmetology. Initially, the toxin gained popularity as a disease-causing “poison”. It was only later that it found its way to becoming a must have in modern aesthetic practice. Today, this wonder toxin has proven to be an apt and convenient option in the field of anti-aging medicine.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Nigam PK, Nigam A. Botulinum toxin. Indian J Dermatol. 2010;55:8–14.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Satila H. The route of botulinum toxin from cause of food poisoning to medical remedy. Duodecim. 2014;130:1523–30.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Erbguth FJ, Naumann M. Historical aspects of botulinum toxin: Justinus Kerner (1786–1862) and the “sausage poison”. Neurology. 1999;53:1850–3.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Erbguth FJ. Historical notes on botulism, clostridium botulinum, botulinum toxin, and the idea of the therapeutic use of the toxin. Mov Disord. 2004;19(8):S2–S6.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Erbguth FJ. From poison to remedy: the chequered history of botulinum toxin. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2008;115:559–65.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Lamanna C, Mc EO, Eklund HW. The purification and crystallization of Clostridium botulinum type A toxin. Science. 1946;103:613.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Small R. Botulinum toxin injection for facial wrinkles. Am Fam Physician. 2014;90:168–75.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Loyo M, Kontis TC. Cosmetic botulinum toxin: has it replaced more invasive facial procedures? Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am. 2013;21:285–98.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Katlein França MD, PhD.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

K. França, A. Kumar, M. Fioranelli, T. Lotti, M. Tirant, and M.G. Roccia declare that they have no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

França, K., Kumar, A., Fioranelli, M. et al. The history of Botulinum toxin: from poison to beauty. Wien Med Wochenschr 167 (Suppl 1), 46–48 (2017).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Botulinum toxin
  • History
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Aesthetic
  • Remedy