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.
DMSO is a byproduct of wood processing for papermaking.
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.
No deficiency conditions are known to exist.
Research indicates that DMSO may be useful in the treatment of:
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.
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.
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.
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.
In combination with cimetidine, DMSO may reduce the relapse rates for ulcers.
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.
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.
DMSO is not FDA approved for any uses other than interstitial cystitis, which requires doctor administration.
DMSO is available only by prescription in Canada.