The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog ran from 2006 to 2016 and was intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Zinc improves the response to Botox

    Zytaze is a recently approved prescription drug that contains zinc and phytase (to improve zinc absorption).

    During the American Society of Ophthalmic, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery meeting, researchers from The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, will report that this combination improved the response to injections of botulinum toxin.

    First, the details.

    • 44 patients with blepharospasm (spasm of the eyelid muscle), hemifacial spasm (involuntary muscle contractions), or cosmetic wrinkles received botulinum toxin injections (Botox, Myobloc, or Dysport).
    • Prior to Botox the patients were randomly assigned to take 4 days of 1 of the following treatments.
      • Zinc citrate 50 mg + phytase 3,000 PU
      • Zinc gluconate 10 mg
      • Placebo
    • Each patients took each treatment — crossover design.
    • Duration of effect was monitored.
    • The participants’ graded effectiveness of treatment.
    • Neither the patients nor researchers knew the treatment given — double blind.

    And, the results.

    • Increasing zinc blood levels prior to a planned injection of botulinum toxin improved efficacy and/or duration in 41 of 44 patients tested (93%).

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “In over 90% of the patients studied, the zinc/phytase combination resulted in a remarkable improved responsiveness to treatment of blepharospasm using the same amount of botulinum toxin as previously used.”

    In the lab, zinc has been shown to play a role in the activity of type A botulinum neurotoxin. The phytase helps absorption, and has the added benefit of making Zylaze a prescription drug.

    It’s not clear why the researchers compared zinc citrate to a lower dose of zinc gluconate. I found no studies comparing zinc citrate to the zinc citrate + phytase combination.

    This study shows that zinc improves the Botox response. It would be helpful to prove that phytase actually makes a significant contribution to the action of zinc during botulinum toxin injections. thereby justifying the prescription status.

    This may have already been done, but the results are not readily available in the published medical literature.

    9/2/10 13:38 JR

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