Some really scary news hit the dailies a few weeks back about Botox, courtesy of U.S. watchdog Public Citizen. Seems the group discovered reports of the toxin spreading from the cosmetic site to other parts of the body, with a range of nasty reactions from mild to very severe.
Interesting, because Botox, approved here for uses both cosmetic and therapeutic, is actually already under review by Health Canada as a result of some worrying European studies.
But while we wait for the feds to finish their probe, I’m going to keep wondering whether there are any quick facial fixes out there that don’t involve injections or scalpels. And, no, I’m not talking about eating your vegetables, exercising and drinking lots of water. Yawn!
Neither am I saying that society and the media are right to make us all feel as though getting older calls for getting plumped or paralyzed.
But on the other hand, don’t expect me to rag on people who get overwhelmed by the imagery and want to do a little toning.
What the experts say
“Botox has been used on millions of people, and I believe it’s safe. The biggest issue is how it’s done. You should always see a specialist and always go to a medical clinic that is the physician’s primary office – not a spa where a doctor comes in once a week. Those places aren’t equipped to resuscitate patients if they do have a reaction. Also, you want to ensure you’re getting the right drug. In Florida, people were given something else and wound up in an ICU. The most important way to take care of your skin is to use sunscreen. Topically, vitamin A is the only substance shown to reverse the signs of photo-aging. You need at least 1 per cent Retinol or higher, and most creams have less than that.”
LISA KELLETT, dermatologist, DLK on Avenue, Toronto
“Spend more time in bed, sleeping and having sex. Leave quiet time for yourself every day. Make sure that any treats you have are as guilt-free as they can be – it’s the guilt that ages us more than the occasional Dorito. Don’t drink too much water; it can stress your kidneys. Your pee should be pale yellow; if it’s clear, you’re drinking too much. Do what the other animals do in winter: hibernate. Living our whole year like it’s the go-go summer will drain us and make us look and feel older. Acupuncture facials are a healthier way than Botox to deal with those wrinkles.”
KALEB MONTGOMERY, Chinese medicine practitioner, Toronto
“One has to weigh Botox like any other medical decision, though I personally don’t use it at this point. I’ve reviewed data on different substances, and there are examples of people who have had a reduction in wrinkles from some, but it’s not across the board. Shiitake has long been used as an immune stimulator, but I don’t know about its anti-aging properties. Reishi mushroom has been used traditionally as an anti-aging compound. Topical vitamin C can have a small effect. Nourishing the skin with natural antioxidants from the inside and outside makes sense, but they’re only going to balance so much damage.”
ALAN DATTNER, holistic dermatologist, New Rochelle, New York
“In Chinese Taoist medicine, the most famous anti-aging herb is probably He Shou Wu, which means “Mr. He’s hair blackener.” The story is that an old farmer went out during a famine to collect roots. While out there, he lived on just one root, and when he returned all his grey hair had turned black. He Shou Wu became a famous herb of longevity. Goji berries are considered longevity herbs.
Schisandra berries will make your skin youthful.’’
JOHN REDDEN, herbalist, Toronto
“Rasayan herbs are given according to body constitution. Vata (air and either) people can take one teaspoon of ashwagandha in warm milk twice a day. Pitta (fire and water) people can take one teaspoon shatavari twice a day in a cup of warm milk. Kapha (water and earth) individuals can use punarnava or triphala in a cup of warm water once a day. Another remedy is eating milk, honey and ghee together every day.’’
SONAL BHATT, Ayurvedic practitioner, Toronto
“Departmental experts are currently reviewing safety information on the issue of toxin spread regarding Botox. Should this review identify any new safety information, it will be made public as soon as it is available.’’
CAROLE SAINDON, Health Canada, Ottawa