DMSO Topically

DMSO Topically: Overview

DMSO was the first NSAID discovered since aspirin.

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Some believe it was that discovery that spurred pharmaceutical companies on to the development on other varieties of NSAIDs.  Pharmaceutical companies were thinking that if DMSO can have anti-inflammatory activity, so can other compounds, which are patentable.  It is ironic that DMSO is less toxic and has fewer side-effects than any of them.

Function; Why it is Recommended

DMSO has been used most widely as a topical analgesic, in a 70% DMSO, 30% water solution.  Laboratory studies suggest that DMSO cuts pain by blocking peripheral nerve C fibers.  Several clinical trials have demonstrated its effectiveness, although in one trial no benefit was found.  Relief is reported to be almost immediate, lasting up to 6 hours.  When administration ceases, so do the analgesic effects of the compound.

DMSO also reduces inflammation by several mechanisms.  It is an antioxidant – a scavenger of the free radicals that gather at the site of injury.  DMSO also stabilizes membranes and slows or stops leakage from injured cells and is recommended for many inflammatory conditions not caused by infection or tumor.

Stephen Edelson, MD, FAAFP, FAAEM, who practices medicine at the Environmental and Preventive Health Center of Atlanta, has used DMSO extensively for 4 years.  "We use it intravenously as well as locally", he says.  "We use it for all sorts of inflammatory conditions, from people with rheumatoid arthritis to people with chronic low back inflammatory-type symptoms, silicon immune toxicity syndromes and any kind of autoimmune process."

Expected Outcome

Chronic pain patients often have to apply the substance for 6 weeks before a change occurs, but many report relief to a degree they had not been able to obtain from any other source.

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DMSO Topically:

DMSO Topically can help with the following:



In an older study, later confirmed by others, Arthur Scherbel, MD, of the Department of Rheumatic Diseases and Pathology at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, used DMSO on 42 scleroderma patients who had already exhausted all other possible therapies without relief.  The investigators concluded that 26 of the 42 showed good or excellent improvement.  Histotoxic changes were observed together with healing of ischemic ulcers on fingertips, relief from pain and stiffness, and an increase in strength.  The investigators noted, "It should be emphasized that these have never been observed with any other mode of therapy." [Ann NY Acad Sci 141: pp.613-29, 1967]


Athletes Foot

This is a very effective fungicide for athlete's foot.  Use twice daily at half strength or stronger.




Patients suffering from tinnitus were given 2ml of a medicated DMSO solution every 4 days.  The medication contained anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory compounds and was applied locally to the external ear canal.  They were also given an intramuscular injection of DMSO at the same time.  After one month, 9 of the 15 subjects had a complete cessation of the tinnitus which didn't return during the one year observation period.  It diminished in two others and in the remaining four occurred occasionally instead of permanently.  Cold temperatures seemed to be the main factor causing it to return. [Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 75:243:468: p.74]



DMSO applied to the area of pain may reduce both the pain and the inflammation of costochondritis.


Interstitial Cystitis

A common and useful treatment for interstitial cystitis is the instillation of DMSO into the bladder.  This is a medical procedure, not one to be done at home.

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