Botox & Autoimmune Disorders

By Dr. Meghan Gray /

Botox & Autoimmune Disorders

Now that we’ve addressed Botox and the skin and muscle, let’s talk about a topic I'm extremely passionate about - Autoimmune disease.  And before you shrug this off as something that doesn’t affect you, maybe read it through - just in case I surprise you.

The National Institute of Health estimates that over 23 million Americans suffer from autoimmune disease.  However, that number only represents a small number of autoimmune diseases and the amount of undiagnosed individuals is estimated to be very high.  Autoimmune rates are climbing quickly.  What’s even crazier is the little-known idea that autoimmunity comes in three stages: The third stage is the presence of autoantibody cells in conjunction with tissue damage.  This is where most individuals finally get a diagnosis.  However, many people live in the first two stages- the presence of autoantibodies without enough damage to warrant proper testing. People in this stage frequently come to my office after many trips to various doctors without finding an answer as to why they feel “blah” or “off” or “just not like myself.”  Usually the progression of stage one or stage two autoimmune disease happens with a “trigger.”  Sometimes it’s a traumatic event - a move, food poisoning, or even just stress (aka life). So why does this matter in the world of Botox?  What do these things have in common?

Did you know that if you have an autoimmune disease you’re supposed to check in with your rheumatologist, immunologist, or endocrinologist before you get a Botox injection?  In fact, the Botox insert itself recommends caution to individuals with neuromuscular disorders such as ALS and Myasthenia Gravis.  

Those of us hanging out in stage three of autoimmunity (aka with a diagnosis) have likely learned by now that foreign substances totally don’t jive with our system.  In fact, they can out right piss it off.  Trust me, I’ve learned that the hard way.  When we inject something into our bodies, our immune systems will react.  That’s its job.  It says, “hey, something is here that isn’t self, and we need to do something about it!” In other words, it activates the immune system.  In autoimmune disease, we’re already over producing immune cells (those pesky autoantibodies I was discussing), and now we’re making more cells to fight the invader. I think you can probably see where I’m going with this…

Again, before you shrug this off as not important to you, remember that “blah” and “off” and similar feelings are commonly signs of those first two stages of autoimmunity. The stages where self-care is most important in order to prevent full-fledged disease.  The stages that if presented with a trigger, such as exposure to a new foreign substance, might tip us from stage two to stage three.   If you’ve ever had digestive issues, stress, unexplained infertility, reactive skin, joint pain, fatigue, temperature regulation issues, or if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, you might want to consider a clean beauty regime.  A really clean one.  Combine an injection of a known toxin with stress, gut issues, aging, and two X chromosomes (aka you’re female), and you might stumble unknowingly and unwillingly into an issue much bigger than wrinkles.  

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Research into the possible detrimental side effects of Botox is continuously increasing.  So is the number of women speaking out about their negative experiences with Botox injections.  In fact, there are whole Facebook groups dedicated to this.  As with smoking, it was avidly popular, everyone was doing it, and over time we started to observe that maybe it wasn’t such a fantastic idea to put a foreign, unnecessary substance into our bodies.  Toxic things like tobacco and nicotine can be dangerous. 

As I said earlier, I am not posting this as a form of judgement, but rather in hopes to help you make an educated decision on how you personally want to tackle your external aging regime.  All across the country, alternatives to Botox are becoming more and more popular and I can’t help but wonder if it’s a bad thing- in that so many people are reacting poorly that now they’re looking to fix an issue- or if it’s a good thing- that as more research about the negative side effects surface, people are hunting for cleaner options.  

Some of the information above comes from personal clinical experience as a Doctor of Acupuncture. Some of it comes from personal experience as an individual with autoimmune issues! And some of it comes from scientific research (if you’re curious there are some references listed below).  If you’d like to hear more about this topic, please comment below and let us know so we can keep the info coming.  If you’d like to hear about clean beauty combined with internal health care that offers you an alternative to injections and fillers, please reach out to me at my acupuncture practice, Balanced Thistle.

Dr. Meghan Gray, DACM, MSHNFM, L.Ac. found acupuncture while she was struggling with her health as an undergrad at CSU. In desperation she tried acupuncture, which ultimately changed her health, her career, and her life. She now holds a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM) and a Master's in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. A Colorado native, Dr. Meghan loves wildflowers, blueberries, good books, deep laughter, her adorable blue heeler, and her cowboy husband. You can learn more about Dr. Meghan at https://www.balancedthistle.com/.

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