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What are the Different DMSO Uses?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A liquid chemical solvent known as dimethyl sulfoxide or DMSO may be a modern day cure-all or a potentially hazardous example of quack medicine. Derived from wood pulp, DMSO was first tested as a possible pharmaceutical drug in the early 1960s. Preliminary test results showed that DMSO had the ability to penetrate organic membranes such as skin tissue, blood vessels and human organs. Because these membranes could be penetrated by DMSO without damage, some researchers believed the chemical compound could be used as a more effective drug delivery system, since pain-killing medicines such as morphine sulfate could be mixed with DMSO and applied to the patient's skin. Other medications could also be piggybacked with DMSO, such as anti-inflammatory or cancer-fighting drugs.

DMSO uses include topical skin treatments, minor muscular ailments and anti-viral applications. Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis could be treated with regular applications of DMSO. Minor burns and skin rashes are also said to be treatable with DMSO. DMSO has antioxidant properties and is considered a free radical scavenger, which means it has the ability to penetrate cell walls and flood them with oxygen. This action creates a hostile environment for viruses, since they depend on the cells for duplication. Topical skin conditions also benefit from the increase in oxygenation and the elimination of damaging free radicals.

Other DMSO uses are more controversial, but also promising, according to many DMSO proponents. Some claim that DMSO has a positive effect on such painful and debilitating conditions such as scleroderma and arthritis. Because DMSO can penetrate joint tissue and destroy free radicals, it may relieve much of the swelling and pain associated with arthritis. Some studies suggest that arthritis patients who were administered DMSO demonstrated a greater range of motion and significantly less joint pain following treatment. DMSO can also soften collagen, a natural substance which gives skin its elastic qualities. Some scleroderma patients reported shrinking of inflamed tissue after receiving several applications of DMSO. However, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved the use of DMSO for one condition, interstitial cystitis.

Some DMSO uses are still a source of controversy for proponents and critics alike. DMSO has been used for decades as a liniment for horses, and many human athletes have also been treated with DMSO after suffering muscle cramps or sprained joints. During the 1970s and early 1980s, many people illicitly purchased bottles of DMSO as an alternative cure-all for conditions ranging from cuts and scrapes to advanced forms of cancer. Because industrial grade DMSO was not legally approved for non-prescription human use, many DMSO marketers were investigated and/or prosecuted. Medicinal-grade DMSO can still be obtained from alternative health stores and other online sources. A derivative of DMSO called Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) is also marketed as a dietary supplement, with its own laundry list of uses and benefits. Because DMSO and MSM are marketed primarily as dietary supplements and not medications, they are not subject to the same scrutiny and regulation of prescription or over-the-counter medicines. It is important for consumers to research a product such as DMSO thoroughly before deciding whether or not to use it for health purposes.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By anon1006679 — On Apr 26, 2022

Fact is, nobody is being paid to promote DMSO and I personally have not even told anybody where I got mine!

So, now I'll tell anyone who wants to know as my free information gift! My 500 ml bottle of 100% pure DMSO cost me under £25 but I won't tell you where I got it it. You will have to find it yourself as I'm no promoter and there's nothing in it for me, but this chance to expose some truth. It worked on my arthritis.

By anon1006070 — On Jan 24, 2022

Nobody trusts big profit pharma now. Patients are now viewed as gullible customers, and this corrupt generation of indoctrinated pharmacists or doctors surgeries are just a sales assistant shopping outlet Note: I swear, if you've got arthritis pain in your hands,

DMSO works!

It does work, and you can feel its effect on your pain in only 10 mins, so you're not waiting days to know if it's going to work on you !

I got a big 500ml bottle of "pure" DMSO for less than £30 from a UK supplier. Good luck .

By anon1003082 — On Apr 27, 2020

I have not had negative effects from using DMSO. Yes, it can burn a bit on the skin if used regularly. I try to use it sparingly.

It works for me, for muscle cramps, stiff neck pain, muscle strains and arthritis in my hands. I'm a DMSO fan when it comes to treating various pain.

By anon993694 — On Dec 06, 2015

I'm a user of DMSO due to all the normal aches and pains, plus I have fibromyalgia! I am amazed by something i just read in here: "It oxidizes free radicals, rendering them harmless which leaves a harmless metabolite called MSM." I was thinking about ordering MSM to try with my fibromyalgia, and here I had it right all along!

By anon990406 — On Apr 20, 2015

Dmso works: skin, body, everything! Look it up. Thank God I found it!

By anon989477 — On Mar 08, 2015

I have used Dmso to remove two melanomas nail fungus that nothing would touch, an impact injury with no pain or bruising, relieves my gout and arthritic pains. This is a fact! I use DMSO down to 20 percent with distilled water. This concentration stops burning or prickling sensations and is still effective. Cleanliness is a must!

By anon338543 — On Jun 15, 2013

Yes it may burn your skin, but injections hurt too. Yes, it may give you a funny taste in your mouth, just like many antibiotics giving you a metallic taste in your mouth. The taste from DMSO is because it is quickly absorbed into blood and excreted through the lungs as you breath courtesy of the O2 and Co2 exchange mechanism of the lungs capillaries. This is proof that the substance is quickly absorbed and rapidly exerts its action on the body. It oxidizes free radicals, rendering them harmless which leaves a harmless metabolite called MSM. This is a sulphite that naturally occurs in the body, and is essential for health.

DMSO is an organic substance which, unlike pharmaceutical medicines, does not cause your body to have harmful side effects (or should I say "disease"). Do some actual research and apply the rules of simple chemistry before you dismiss DMSO as quackery.

By pollick — On May 24, 2013

My dad fell for the DMSO cure-all hype back in the 1970s, and he made us use it for all sorts of ailments and conditions. I had bad acne during that time, and he swore that DMSO would cure it. I slathered it all over my face, but nothing significant happened. I could taste an odd garlic flavor, however. This was clearly in the days before the Internet, so news about recalls or controversies arrived slowly.

I finally found an article that discussed the dangers of DMSO, and shortly after that the stuff was pulled off the shelves. I can only hope I didn't suffer any long-term effects from using DMSO back in the day.

By anon297960 — On Oct 17, 2012

DMSO burns like crazy, and, because it penetrates skin and travels through blood vessels, you can taste it, not good. I don't even use it on my horses.

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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