What is DMSO?
What is DMSO?
DMSO is a simple chemical made from wood pulp that penetrates the skin and
and has demonstrated the ability to promote the healing of pockets of
inflammation. DMSO is an acronym for dimethylsulfoxide and can cause a minor
and temporary irritation of the skin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not granted approvals for all of
DMSO's many applications. Despite monumental medical research in support of
DMSO's effectiveness in the treatment of soft tissue damage the FDA has
restricted DMSO's application to the treatment of interstitial cystitis
(bladder wall inflammation). Due to the FDA's restrictions, thousands of
Americans suffering from arthrosis (joint disease) have crossed the border
to receive therapeutic treatment and to purchase their own supplies of DMSO.
Many European medical communities advocate the use of DMSO as a treatment
for arthritis and bursitis. In the United States, veterinary practitioners
have made liberal use of DMSO for decades in the treatment of connective
tissue damage, dermatological disorder, and certain immunological therapies.
Why is FDA approval withheld?
Despite decades of medical research establishing the curative power of DMSO
and its free radical scavenging antioxidant properties, the FDA has not
granted broad approval for its use. A close examination of the practices and
policies of the FDA consistently lead to three explanatory theories.
1) In several of the instances where research has established the medical
effectiveness of DMSO, the researchers have been unable to determine the
exact process by which the effectiveness was achieved. In other words, they
know it works but they don't all the reasons why.
2) The topical application of DMSO is followed, shortly thereafter, by a
distinct "garlic like" taste in one's mouth. The inability of researchers to
develop a placebo which emulates this characteristic prevents the
satisfactory completion of a "double blind" study. The lack of a "double
blind" study has previously been cited by the FDA as reason enough to
withhold approval of a drug.
3) Sheer economics work against the widespread use of DMSO and the
dissemination of information about it. Pharmaceutical companies spend
millions of dollars developing, gaining approval for, and then selling drugs
which remain their exclusive product for a number of years. The enormous
expense of gaining FDA approval is far overshadowed by the outrageous
profits a newly approved medication can generate. DMSO, however, is the
relatively inexpensive by-product of the wood pulping process and has been
in the public domain too long to be subject to proprietary claims.
Pharmaceutical companies therefore have no incentive to bring DMSO through
the approval process. In fact, the larger pharmaceutical companies, would
likely prefer that DMSO were not made available so as not to interfere with
the sale of their more expensive forms of therapy.
Who uses DMSO and why?
Outside of the United States DMSO is openly used, in whole or in part, in
the treatment of a wide variety of ailments such as:
arthrosis (joint disease)
bursitis (the inflammation of the bursa sac)
interstitial cystitis (bladder wall inflammation)
tissue necrosis resulting from chemotherapy
connective tissue damage
In addition to DMSO's direct use in the treatment of the above infirmities
it is also very often used as a vehicle to deliver other drugs to afflicted
areas. DMSO's is widely considered ideal for this purpose because of its
ability to penetrate the skin and its preferential scavenging of hydroxyl
Although spoken of in hushed tones and closed circles, DMSO is a popular
form of therapy for professional athlete's suffering from bruises, swelling,
and the joint pain that results from repetitive participation in their
For many years arthritis, tendonitis , and bursitis sufferers have
anecdotally reported tremendous pain relieving benefits and vastly improved
range of motion derived from the topical application of DMSO to afflicted
What research has been done?
Decades of exhaustive research at major institutions has incontrovertibly
established the free radical scavenging properties of DMSO as an antioxidant
and its ability to swiftly and safely penetrate the skin. Research also
reveals that DMSO has remarkably low toxicity and that healing effects
remain after DMSO has metabolized or been expelled.
Reported in 1994 by the American Physiological Society is a study conducted
by Michael B. Reid and Melanie R. Moody of the Pulmonary and Critical Care
section, Department of Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine which
observed that DMSO inhibits acute low frequency muscular fatigue and found
that DMSO depresses contractile function of directly stimulated curarized
In November of 1995 an unrelated study was reported by Klinische
Pharmakologie, Institut fur Klinische Forschung in Germany, in which 112
patients suffering from joint disease participated. 56 patients received
DMSO Gel applied over a period of 3 weeks and 56 patients received a Gel
Placebo applied over the same time period. The patients maintained a pain
diary and ongoing medical assessments were made relating to joint pain while
going about daily activities, pain at rest, and mobility were also assessed.
The study conclusively found that compared to the placebo, DMSO treatment
proved to have a clinically relevant analgesic (pain relieving) effect on
the intensity of pain during everyday activities, at rest, and under
Yet another German study conducted by medical doctors Kneer, Kuhnau, Bias
and Haag in April 1994 focused on DMSO gel in the treatment of acute
tendopathies. 157 patients were randomized to treatment with either DMSO Gel
applied 3 times daily or the placebo Gel excipient. Treatments were begun 72
hours after the onset of acute symptoms. Pain of movement under loading and
the mobility of the joints were significantly improved after 3 days for the
DMSO group. After 7 days even more significant improvements were noted.
After 14 days using DMSO, 44% of the patients were completely pain free, as
compared with just 9% for the placebo group. The study concluded that
topical DMSO is suitably reccomended for use in the treatment of acute
tenopathy since producing clinically measurable results with very little
risk to the patient.
What forms of DMSO are available?
Fortunately one does not have to go to Europe or Mexico in order to acquire
DMSO. DMSO is now permitted to be sold strictly as a solvent. Of course, the
choice of the process used in the various applications is the sole
responsibility of the user.
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