DMSO relieves pain, reduces swelling and inflammation and has a variety of other applications. Read about facts, benefits, uses, handling, applying, directions, side effects and safety.
Please read this entire section before beginning to use it. Read the side effects and cautions at the end.
What is DMSO used for?
Note that, unlike prolotherapy, DMSO, also known as dimethyl sulfoxide, is not usually a cure but rather is used for symptomatic relief.
The professional researcher/reporter who writes this site has no medical training. Use DMSO only under the supervision of a doctor who is skilled in its application, and only use pharmaceutical grade, not industrial grade. Everyone is different, and what might be good for some people might be bad for you. Tell your doctor your medical history and medications. The information, suggestions and instructions below are from the sources listed at the end of the page.
I have used it successfully for pain relief on my elbow, knees and for the tendonitis in my right foot. And one night, when I woke up with pinging pain in my lower abdomen, I prayed for healing, and then it occurred to me that if the pain was due to inflammation that DMSO might work (thank you God, for that revelation). I applied it and the pain lessened and lessened and I was finally gone in 15 minutes and I went back to sleep. Note that I had already had this pain, which happens only occasionally, checked out by my doctor and determined that nothing was wrong.
How fast does it work?
An example of acute pain would be pain from a sports injury. Chronic pain is pain from an ongoing condition, such as arthritis. DMSO can relieve acute pain in five minutes to half an hour. For chronic pain, it can take weeks, even months, although my chronic foot pain went away in just a few days.
I used it once a day for the chronic tendonitis in my elbow, and it took about two to three months for all of the pain to go away. The good news is, that when I got lazy and stopped using it, the pain didn’t come back for many months. Remember that it doesn’t work for every kind of pain, although I have had 100 percent success with it, so far.
DMSO is a better anti-inflammatory than aspirin and is safer than steroids. It is usually used topically, but it can also be given intravenously, by trained, enlightened physicians, for certain conditions.
In addition, you get the good effects without the bad effects of narcotics (like morphine), which include loss of sensation, drowsiness, nausea and other nasty side effects.
DMSO SafetyOne of the reasons that it's not more widely used today is that the medical profession disdains panaceas, and although it doesn’t cure everything, it has a positive effect on so many conditions that it seems too good to be true. And, of course, there is the major drawback that it is a natural substance and cannot be patented, thereby limiting profits. Finally, the mysterious resistance of the FDA, detailed below, nearly eliminated DMSO as a widely-known, mainstream remedy, despite the published evidence of its safety and effectiveness.
Discovered by a Russian researcher in 1866, DMSO didn't come into wider use until almost a century later, when horse trainers used it on injured animals and sports trainers followed suit with their athletes. In the 1950s, an M.D. at the University of Oregon, Stanley W. Jacobs, M.D., discovered that it had the ability to pass through the skin’s barriers to both water-based and oil-based substances and take itself (and other substances, if desired) through the skin into the bloodstream, without causing any damage to the skin. On April 3, 1965, in an editorial, the New York Times called it "the closest thing to a [health] wonder produced in the 1960s." In 1980, the TV show 60 Minutes did a story on DMSO, featuring startling, positive testimonials from users.
What is DMSO?Dimethyl sulfoxide is a colorless liquid byproduct of the process to make wood into paper. It has industrial uses as a solvent.
Early human studies showed that dimethyl sulfoxide had an amazing ability to relieve a variety of kinds of pain and even quicken healing of muscle injuries and burns. In fact, there is no better substance available that you can just rub on your skin to relieve pain. One study at the Emory University School of medicine showed that it was equivalent to morphine for relieving pain in rats, and the relief lasted up to three times longer!
Over 100,000 articles have been written about the medical applications. In 1963, when the FDA approved human testing, all studies showed DMSO to be safe and non-toxic. One study revealed changes in the lens of the eye in specific lab animals; however, when a number of human studies were done around the world in the late sixties, no human eye damage was found.
When drug companies tried to patent dimethyl sulfoxide, beginning with studies to obtain official FDA approval, the FDA strongly resisted. Since the necessary studies to get FDA approval were (and are) very costly, and because of the FDA’s mysterious, unexplained hostility, the drug companies gave up. Only one FDA approved application exists: to treat a bladder condition called interstitial cystitis, for which no other effective treatment exists. Except for this one approved treatment, dimethyl sulfoxide does not have FDA approval for use in human medical conditions.
Where can I get it?
According to my sources, listed below, the best concentrations are 70 to 90 percent pure dimethyl sulfoxide. Do not use concentrations higher than 90 percent, my sources say, as those higher concentrations may harm your skin, and they don’t work as well anyway.
Test for skin irritation
Clean your hands and the area to be treated
Most of the DMSO will penetrate within 15 minutes and the pores of the skin may be open for another half hour or so. Just to be safe, it is recommended that you avoid contact with all toxic substances for three hours after application.
There is no need to worry unduly about DMSO's ability to open the pores and penetrate the skin, according to my sources below. Other products on the market also go through the skin, such a patches for nicotine and seasickness medication, and creams/lotions that deliver such things as MSM or capsacin for arthritis through the skin. With any of these products, you should avoid exposure to toxic substances after you have applied the cream or just after you have removed the patch.
Wash your hands and under your nails thoroughly. Apply it directly to your skin with your hands. If you prefer not to use your hands, you can use a cotton ball or a paint brush. If you are using liquid dimethyl sulfoxide, allow it to dry for about 20 minutes. Then you can wipe off any excess. If you are using cream or gel, be sure it has soaked in and that your skin is dry before you put on your clothes. Remember, dimethyl sulfoxide can dissolve other substances. So far, the only fabric I’ve had a problem with is with acetate, which will quickly melt into a hard glob.
Dabbing the DMSO onto your skin may reduce irritation. However, rubbing it in may help it to work quicker and make the effects last longer. You might want to experiment with the amount you use to see how it affects your pain. By experimenting, you’ll find the minimum amount that eases the pain.
In applying the dimethyl sulfoxide, apply it to an area larger than where the pain is. If your knee is painful, it is recommended that you apply it to six inches above and below your knee, all around the circumference of your knee. If your hand hurts, apply it all the way to the middle of your forearm, and so on.
How often should I use it?
Acute conditions: For acute conditions, my sources recommend that you apply it every two hours for six to eight hours immediately after the injury occurs. Following that, for the next five days or more, apply DMSO every four to six hours. Most of the benefit will come in the first three weeks.
Chronic conditions: For chronic conditions, DMSO takes longer to take effect. Although you may notice some easing of pain right away, it may take six to eight weeks, or even six months to a year in some cases, for the maximum benefit to be achieved. It depends on the person and the condition. One application a day is recommended.
Take some time off regularly
Each person is different with regard to the amount of pain they experience in a given condition and how they respond to that pain. The length of time that application of DMSO is necessary to relieve pain will vary. In some cases, injection (by a doctor) of dimethyl sulfoxide is indicated, along with topical application.
Uses For DMSOHere are some of the uses for DMSO, according to the sources listed below:
Check with your doctor first!
Burns A 50 to 100 percent solution, applied as quickly as possible after the burn, can ease pain and diminish scarring.
Muscle spasms, including nighttime muscle cramps
DMSO research: In the largest study, in Germany, over 1641 patients were given two to five milliliters of dimethyl sulfoxide topically two to four times daily for the first week, then twice daily for the remainder of two to six months, until remission of symptoms occurred. Eight hundred fifty one patients enjoyed full remission, 553 had partial relief, and 237 reported no benefit.
In another study (Steinberg 1967) with 152 patients, a 90 percent solution was applied topically four times a day to the joints and surrounding areas. Patients reported considerable pain relief just minutes after application, lasting four to six hours. Almost 85 percent reported significant results.
In a Russian test, scientists concluded that "the use of DMSO for inflammatory and degenerative joint disease is well founded. Treatment with DMSO in different combinations is tolerated well by patients and adverse side effects are seldom encountered." Dimethyl sulfoxide is most effective for those who have had arthritis for a short time.
Although it relieves pain in both acute and chronic arthritis, it works best in the acute forms. Dimethyl sulfoxide works here because it is an anti-inflammatory and because it reduces autoimmune antibodies that damage or destroy tissue. It also prevents free radicals from destroying lubricating fluid in the joints.
DMSO works best of all in osteoarthritis. Patients of all ages get good results, no matter how long or how severe the condition. Larger joints--hip, knee, shoulder--may require longer treatment. Dimethyl sulfoxide injections (rather than application to the skin) may be indicated in really severe conditions.
Peyronies disease and DMSO
Phantom limb pain
Sciatic nerve pain
DMSO Side EffectsYou might think that there would be dangers of DMSO, but it is remarkably safe. Dimethyl sulfoxide does have two potential side effects:
1. Your breath and body may smell--some say like garlic; some say like clams; I say like creamed corn. This can be a significant annoyance. It goes away, of course, when you stop using it.
2. You may have an allergic reaction at the point where you apply it. If you have an allergic reaction, such as swelling, redness or inflammation, see your doctor right away. This is extremely rare, with about the same occurrence as reactions to other common substances, like aspirin, for example.
Dimethyl sulfoxide has been widely used for over 30 years, and a number of human studies have been done. At the time of the writing of this report, there are no studies indicating that it is toxic during short-term use with the recommended amounts.
After two human studies done on human volunteers in prison, Dr. Richard Brobyn stated: "A very extensive study of DMSO was conducted at three to 30 times the usual treatment dosage in humans for three months. DMSO appears to be a very safe drug for human administration, and, in particular, the lens changes that occur in certain mammalian species do not occur in man under this very high, prolonged treatment regimen. I am very glad to be able to present these data at this time, so that we can permanently dispel the myth that DMSO is in any way a toxic or dangerous drug."
Don’t use it if you are pregnant.
Interactions with other drugs
1. While it can help a wound heal faster and decrease scar formation, it should not be used on wounds that are infected.
2. Don’t use it for poison ivy or poison oak or for insect bites, since it may spread the substance that is causing your discomfort.
3. Don’t store it in proximity with toxic substances. Stay away from toxic substances during and after application of DMSO (for 3 hours afterward, to be absolutely safe). And if you accidentally spill a toxic substance on yourself after using DMSO, don’t panic; just wash it off right away with soap and water.
4. Take a good multivitamin/mineral supplement to neutralize the free radicals released by DMSO in the healing process. It should contain vitamins A, C, E, B1, B6, zinc and selenium.
Always notify your physician immediately should you have any symptoms of allergic reaction. These would include shortness of breath or trouble breathing, swelling of the face, itching, rash or hives.
"Pain Free Forever," The Revolution in Pain Relief Doctors Don't Tell You About," a report about DMSO by Dr. David Williams.
DMSO: Nature’s Healer, by Dr. Morton Walker. You can find this very informative 260-page book on dimethyl sulfoxide facts and uses at amazon.com.
The Hushed Up Truth About DMSO, a special supplement to Nutrition & Healing newsletter, by Jonathan Wright, M.D.
You can also find information on the Internet. Type your condition and DMSO into your favorite search engine.
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