(dimethyl sulfoxide)

Nonessential Micronutrient



DMSO is an oily liquid that when applied topically may reduce pain and inflammation in joints and muscles. It’s also been shown to promote healing of minor cuts and burns and is a powerful antioxidant. However, it is a highly controversial nutrient, and while it is one of the most studied nutrients, it’s also considered one of the most poorly understood.

Other names for DMSO

dimethyl sulfoxide

Where to find DMSO

DMSO is a byproduct of wood processing for papermaking.


Why athletes use DMSO

Some athletes have begun using DMSO to reduce pain and inflammation after sports injuries. Still, the information on DMSO is preliminary, and little is understood about its safety, use, and effectiveness.

Ways that DMSO can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Relieve the pain and inflammation of pulled muscles and connective-tissue injuries
  • Decrease inflammation of joints and muscle tissue after intense training sessions
Ways that DMSO can enhance Longevity:
  • Enhance immune-system function and protect against free-radical damage


Signs of DMSO deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for DMSO

Research indicates that DMSO may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Brain and spinal cord damage
  • Ulcers
  • ALS
  • Inflammation
  • Skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis


More about DMSO

Most active individuals have experienced pain from muscle or joint injuries at one time or another. And there seems to be a universal wondering if anything other than “time” can relieve that pain and get us back into the game sooner. Along comes an interesting industrial solvent that may not only reduce the pain and inflammation caused by muscle and joint injuries but could possibly eliminate it.

What is DMSO?

DMSO is a topical oil or gel produced as a byproduct of paper making that’s widely used as a degreaser, paint thinner, and antifreeze. It was first discovered to be a potentially effective anti-inflammatory agent and pain reducer in race horses.

How does it work?

Research has shown that DMSO may be a powerful antioxidant that goes straight to the injured area, fights the free radicals, and also diminishes pain by inhibiting the pain message in the nerves. Plus, it appears to soften the connective tissue surrounding the injury, reducing the pressure on the injury.

When applied to the skin, DMSO is quickly absorbed, moving straight to the circulatory system. The healing process likely speeds up with DMSO use because with decreased inflammation, there is increased blood flow to the injured areas, and our blood can then transport more nutrients and antioxidants to the injured areas.

In truth

Admittedly, DMSO is a highly controversial nutrient, and while it is one of the most studied nutrients, it’s also considered one of the most poorly understood. Nonetheless, there is evidence that it may be an effective drug-delivery system, as it may carry drugs through the skin with it. It’s also been shown to promote healing of minor cuts and burns. This is an interesting topical agent, which will likely continue to be researched to discover both its safety and its effectiveness.



DMSO creams of between 10% and 50% DMSO are reportedly applied to the injured area. Little research has been done on humans, and amounts and timing are not yet understood.


Sometimes DMSO causes a “garlic-like” body and breath odor. At higher amounts, this odor can become so strong, you may be forced to spend a lot of time alone.

Synergists of DMSO

In combination with cimetidine, DMSO may reduce the relapse rates for ulcers.

Safety of DMSO

Skin irritation, stomach upset, headache, and sensitivity to light may occur in some cases.

It is important that the area where DMSO is applied as well as the hands applying it be very clean because DMSO is quickly absorbed by the skin, allowing contaminants on the skin to also be absorbed.

It is also important to use highly purified forms of DMSO.

Toxicity of DMSO

Studies on the toxicity of DMSO in humans have shown no serious adverse effects when it is applied topically at or below one gram per kilogram of bodyweight.

Bans and restrictions

DMSO is not FDA approved for any uses other than interstitial cystitis, which requires doctor administration.

DMSO is available only by prescription in Canada.


  • Alyabyeva, A.P., and Muravyev, YuV., “Control Trials of Dimethyl Sulfoxide in Rheumatoid and Collagen Diseases,” Ann N Y Acad Sci 411 (1983) : 309-15.
  • Jimenez, R.A., and Willkens, R.F., “Dimethyl Sulfoxide: A Perspective of its Use in Rheumatic Diseases,” J Lab Clin Med 100.4 (1982) : 489-500.
  • Melikhova, N.I., et al., “Effectiveness of the Treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis with Dimethyl Sulfoxide Gel,” Pediatriia .6 (1986) : 53-4.
  • Murav’ev, IuV., “Dimethyl Sulfoxide in the Therapy of Rheumatic Diseases,” Ter Arkh 62.12 (1990) : 112-6.
  • Ur’ias Villarino, E., “Treatment of Some Musculo-Skeletal Diseases with Dimethyl Sulfoxide. Preliminary Report,” Medicina (Mex) 45.974 (1965) : 511-4.
  • Vuopala, U., et al., “The Analgetic Action of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) Ointment in Arthrosis. A Double Blind Study,” Acta Rheumatol Scand 17.1 (1971) : 57-60.