What is DMSO

What is DMSO?

DMSO or dimethyl sulfoxide is a by-product of paper making process. It is a natural, non-toxic sulphur compound with amazing healing powers; and especially known to reduce swelling, pain and inflammation in tissues.

DMSO was first discovered by Russian scientist Alexander Saytze in 1866, who observed that DMSO is an extraordinary solvent. Many years later Dr. Stanley Jacob, the head of the organ transplant department at University of Oregon Medical School at the time, became acquainted with this sulphur compound while trying to figure out better methods to preserve organs for transplants. Dr. Jacob was intrigued when he noticed DMSO could easily penetrate skin and connective tissues without causing any damage.

Dr. Jacob, also known as the father of DMSO, spent decades researching, establishing and propagating the health benefits of DMSO in managing a spectrum of conditions such as chronic pain, arthritis, bursitis, stroke and spinal cord injuries.

While the FDA has only approved it to treat interstitial cystitis or bladder inflammation, doctors in Europe and Canada prescribe DMSO for a range of disorders such as chronic pain, arthritis, stroke and scleroderma. DMSO is also used to treat severe closed traumatic brain injury. [1]

DMSO: Natural Organic Compound with Amazing Medicinal Properties

  1. Works as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory
  2. Improves blood supply to damaged tissues; accelerates healing
  3. Restores blood circulation
  4. Reduces chronic pain
  5. Penetrates skin as well as the blood-brain barrier
  6. Works as a vehicle to transport topical drugs (such as corticoids and antibiotics) across the biological membranes
  7. Strengthens immune system

DMSO is effective in treating the following conditions:

  • Soft tissue injuries; muscle sprains and strains
  • Arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, fibromyalgia
  • Interstitial cystitis (pain and inflammation of the urinary bladder)
  • Radiation exposure; protects free radicals damage and facilitates DNA repair
  • Shingles, psoriasis, scar tissue and scleroderma
  • Superficial burns and wounds
  • Recurring toenail fungal infection
  • Frostbite (damage to tissues in extremely cold temperatures)
  • Bacterial and viral infections

DMSO in interstitial cystitis

DMSO is FDA approved to treat interstitial cystitis. It is a chronic condition marked by persistent pain, pressure and inflammation in the urinary bladder and the surrounding area – especially lower back and lower abdomen. The pain typically gets worse as the bladder fills with urine.

DMSO brings together its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties to provide substantial relief in people with interstitial cystitis.

DMSO in heart attack, stroke and spinal cord injuries

When given at the right time and in appropriate dosage, DMSO can prevent and reverse the damage that occur in tissues during heart attack, stroke and injury to brain and spinal cord. [2] [3]

  • Dilates blood vessels and reduces platelet stickiness
  • Restores blood circulation; prevents paralysis
  • Dissolves blood clots
  • Lowers intracranial pressure; reduces swelling in brain (brain edema)
  • Reduces inflammation in brain tissue

Neurosurgeon Dr. Jack de Ia Torre and Dr. Stanley Jacob, both renowned DMSO experts, stressed the importance of DMSO for stroke victims. “DMSO should be in every ambulance and emergency room so as to start giving it intravenously to stroke victims in the ambulance as soon as picked up or, at the latest, as soon as the patient arrives at an emergency room. If such were the established practice, the number of people dying or incapacitated from strokes would plummet.

DMSO in radiation exposure

DMSO is a sulphur compound and sulphur’s role in preventing radiation damage is widely known. Ionizing radiations cause the formation of free radicals that damage cellular DNA, increasing the risk of mutations, cancer and genetic disorders.

As a strong anti-oxidant, DMSO is effective in swiping hydroxyl free radicals. In addition, a Japanese study found that low concentration of DMSO helps repair double-strand DNA breakage, a type of DNA damage that is difficult and complicated for the body to rectify on its own. [4].

DMSO in cancer: DMSO Potentiation Therapy

DMSO slows down the progression of cancer. It also enhances the efficiency and success rate of conventional chemotherapy. As a potent drug carrier, it binds to and directs chemotherapy drugs to kill cancer cells. This is called DMSO Potentiation Therapy.

Studies suggest that intravenous infusion of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and sodium bicarbonate (SB) solution effectively reduces refractory pain in cancer patients – improving the quality of life. [5] This is extremely relevant as severe pain due to the disease progression is a huge concern for cancer patients.

In addition, DMSO is also used as an antidote to prevent extravasations in hospital settings. Extravasations happen when chemotherapy drugs leak and get trapped within the surrounding tissues.

Is DMSO Safe?

DMSO is safer than aspirin. When applied topically, DMSO readily penetrates the skin without causing any membrane damage. In fact, it is used to preserve organs and tissues used for transplants as it keeps the tissues intact without causing any irreversible damage. In addition, it is approved by U.S FDA to treat interstitial cystitis. Decades of research, and thousands of research papers and case studies attest to the health benefits of DMSO.

A Word of Caution: DMSO is available in different grades. Make sure you only buy pure pharmaceutical grade DMSO if you are looking to unlock its true potential without any risks or untoward side effects. To check for purity, keep the solution in your refrigerator. If the solution is pure, it will freeze into solid ice within about 2 hours. But an impure or veterinary grade DMSO solution will have little streams of water flowing through the ice when you flip the bottle upside down.

Concerns and Precautions

Always consult a medical professional first before you start using DMSO. It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

  1. Do a patch test and first apply to a small area on your skin to check for any adverse reaction
  2. Start with a diluted concentration with pure or distilled water.
  3. Apply with clean hands
  4. Apply on dry, clean and unbroken skin
  5. Avoid exposure to any harsh, toxic substances after you have applied the solution (DMSO can transport these substances through the skin and into the bloodstream.)
  6. Dilute your solution to 70% or 50% when applying to sensitive areas like face
  7. Topical application can cause mild irritation or slight burning sensation. Applying aloe vera will help.
  8. DMSO use may cause a garlic-like odour and taste


  1. Orphan Designation. EU/3/05/263. European Medicines Agency.
  2. Kulah A, Akar A, Baykut L. Dimethyl sulfoxide in the management of patients with brain swelling and increased intracranial pressure after severe, closed head injury. Neurochirurgica 1990; 33: 177-180
  3. Jacob SW, de la Torre JC. Pharmacology of dimethyl sulfoxide in cardiac and CNS damage. Pharmacological Reports 2009 Mar-Apr;61(2):225-35.
  4. Kashino G1, Liu Y, Suzuki M, Masunaga S, Kinashi Y, Ono K, Tano K, Watanabe M. An alternative mechanism for radioprotection by dimethyl sulfoxide; possible facilitation of DNA double-strand break repair. Journal of Radiation Research. 2010;51(6):733-40.
  5. Ba X. Hoang, Hung Q. Tran, Ut V. Vu, Quynh T. Pham, D. Graeme Shaw. Palliative Treatment for Advanced Biliary Adenocarcinomas With Combination Dimethyl Sulfoxide–Sodium Bicarbonate Infusion and S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine. Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy Sep 2014, Vol. 28, No. 3, Pages 206-211: 206-211.