Article courtesy of Dr. Claire Morris, ND.  Visit her at ClaireMorrisND.com.

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is an organic sulfur compound. This product has a wide range of medicinal uses.  But there has been a bit of controversy surrounding this product.

DMSO was first discovered in 1866 by a Russian scientist. It started getting attention in the 1950’s and its recorded use as a medicine is around 1963. It is used in 125 countries around the world being prescribed for a variety of ailments.  In the United States it is only FDA approved for organ transplant preservation and a specific bladder disease.  The TV show 60 Minutes did a segment on DMSO, possibly reviving interest but also renewing some of the controversies.

DMSO is used in veterinary medicine for horses both externally and internally as a remedy of inflammation and treatment of intracranial pressure and cerebral edema.

DMSO is a by-product of the wood industry and a commercial solvent. It penetrates skin quickly and deeply without damage.  It also has the unique ability to transport other drugs or chemicals through the skin.  Studies show that 70 percent to 90 percent solution strength is the most effective for skin penetration.  This benefit is part of the controversy.

Double blind studies are impossible because when applied it causes the user to have a garlic-like taste and odor. The only known side effects of DMSO are the tell tale smell and taste and possible red spot, itching and burning on the site of application. Stronger concentrations can cause headaches, diarrhea, and burning on urination.  It should never be used over a 30 day period without a recommended break in treatment.

The main benefits are:

  • Reduction in swelling and inflammation
  • Slow the growth of fungi, bacteria and viruses
  • Block nerve conductivity, a possible reason for pain reduction
  • Increase urine output
  • Improve circulation
  • Produce muscle relaxation
  • Dissolve scar tissue

DMSO is not a cure but it is a good topical pain reliever. It is the first nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory since the discovery of aspirin.

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