Make Botox work better with a Zinc supplement?

I saw a press release earlier this week (link) which claimed that a proprietary dietary supplement made Botox injections more effective. Naturally, I was curious, and began to investigate.

According to a study done by ophthalmologist Dr. Charles Sopakar at Methodist Hospital in Houston, giving a tablet of either zinc or zinc together with an enzyme called phytase made Botox more effective in 41 of 44 blepharospasm patients, when used for 4 days prior to the injection.

So, like a careful scientist, he’s expanding his research to a large scale study? No – actually, he’s run off and patented the phytase and zinc combination, which will soon be marketed under the name “Zytaze”. My opinion of his blatantly commercial intentions aside, could zinc help Botox or Dysport or Myobloc work better? Maybe.

Here’s what we do know about zinc and Botox:

1) Botox is a member of an enzyme family called zinc metalloproteinases. These enzymes actually require some zinc, which acts as a catalyst, to work properly.

2) Experimentally, if you treat Botox with an agent that removes the zinc (a chelator), Botox doesn’t work at all.

3) In laboratory studies, either too much or too little zinc prevents optimal functioning of the Botox protein.

4) Phytase helps the absorption of dietary zinc, and by itself, can help zinc deficiency.

So, should we start giving zinc supplements before cosmetic Botox treatments? In my opinion, this preliminary study, while very interesting, is not conclusive. The patients were blepharospasm and facial spasm patients, who have abnormal neuromuscular stuff going on. They are quite different than normal cosmetic wrinkle patients. The study really needs to be repeated in a double-blinded, placebo controlled way, with cosmetic wrinkle patients. I’m sure there will be no problem getting volunteers for this study!!

So, it’s too early to tell for sure…but I’ll be following the developments. If you want to go down to the vitamin store, and buy a zinc supplement – I don’t mind, as long as you only use it short-term. In this study, the zinc was used for just 4 days prior to Botox treatment, and not afterward. Let me know if you think your Botox treatment works better or lasts longer!

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