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Dimethyl Sulfoxide – Uses and Precautions

Dimethyl sulfoxide, also known as DMSO, is a by-product of wood manufacturing, may have some surprising medical uses. It may be used as both a prescription medication and an over-the-counter topical cream.

What is DMSO used for?

Pain Relief

shutterstock_366700211 DMSO was first used as medicine in 1961 when Dr. Stanley Jacob, then head of the organ transplant program at Oregon Health Sciences University, discovered its efficiency as a pain medicine. When applied to the skin as a cream, DMSO easily penetrates membranes and is absorbed by tissues. It relieves pain due to its high sulfur content. Sulfur has been used since ancient times to relieve chronic pain and increase range of motion.


shutterstock_233836468 In 1978, 213 patients suffering from inflammatory disorders participated in a DMSO study at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. The compound proved effective in bringing significant relief to the majority of the patients. This led researchers to recommend DMSO for treatment of severe inflammatory conditions, including arthritis. Dr. Stephen Edelson, who works at the Preventive Health Center of Atlanta, has been treating patients using DMSO both as a pill and cream for several years as a result of these findings.

Mental Disorders

shutterstock_364192709 Studies have found that DMSO could play a part in treating mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, manic depression, anxiety and obsessive disorders.

Keloid Scar Removal

shutterstock_357467792 A keloid scar is created due to an overgrowth of skin tissue. The scar sits raised on the skin's surface. These scars can be removed using DMSO cream applied topically over repeated sessions.

Central Nervous System Trauma Prevention

shutterstock_268357160 Some sources have stated that when DMSO is supplied to the body within 90 minutes of a stroke, it can prevent permanent damage to the central nervous system. It does this by rapidly lowering intercranial pressure, improving respiration and increasing blood flow to areas of injury. Dr. de la Torre, who has been researching DMSO's effects on the central nervous system since 1971, said: "We believe that DMSO may be a very good product for stroke — a devastating illness which affects many more people than head injury." (There is still a great deal of research needed on this line of treatment for stroke patients.)


WebMD warns that some DMSO products on the market are actually industrial grade and contain numerous impurities that can easily be absorbed into the skin. This hits home the importance of finding a reputable DMSO product meant specifically for use in the human body. Here is one reliable product meant for use as a topical cream. As with any health product, it's important to check with your doctor before using DMSO. Your doctor will be able to determine whether a topical cream or a pill (which requires a prescription) is best suited for your needs. Sources: WebMD Google Books Underground Health Reporter