Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
Apply a 10% gel twice per day under medical supervision
Dimethyl sulfoxide is anti-inflammatory and may be applied topically to reduce pain and swelling.
DMSO, or dimethyl sulfoxide, has a long history as a topical anti-inflammatory agent. One double-blind trial used a 10% DMSO gel topically on patients with tendinitis of the elbow and shoulder and found that it significantly reduced pain and inflammation in each joint.1 Other preliminary2, 3 and double-blind4, 5 trials found DMSO to be effective in treating tendinitis, but one double-blind trial found no difference between the effects of a 70% DMSO solution and a 5% DMSO placebo solution.6 Certain precautions must be taken when applying DMSO, and it should only be used under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.
Apply a gel containing 25% DMSO under the direction of a qualified healthcare practitioner
Topical DMSO appears to be anti-inflammatory and able to relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis, possibly by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves.
The therapeutic use of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is controversial because of safety concerns, but some preliminary research shows that diluted preparations of DMSO, applied directly to the skin, are anti-inflammatory and alleviate pain, including pain associated with osteoarthritis.7, 8 A recent double-blind trial found that a 25% concentration of DMSO in gel form relieved osteoarthritis pain significantly better than a placebo after three weeks.9 DMSO appears to reduce pain by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves10 rather than through a process of healing damaged joints. DMSO comes in different strengths and different degrees of purity; in addition, certain precautions must be taken when applying DMSO. For these reasons, DMSO should be used only with the supervision of a doctor.
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
When applied to the skin, DMSO has anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates pain, apparently by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves.
The use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) for therapeutic applications is controversial in part because some claims made by advocates appear to extend beyond current scientific evidence, and in part because topical use greatly increases the absorption of any substance that happens to be on the skin, including molecules that are toxic to the body. Nonetheless, there is some preliminary evidence that when applied to the skin, it has anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates pain, such as that associated with RA.11, 12 DMSO appears to reduce pain by inhibiting the transmission of pain messages by nerves.13 It comes in different strengths and degrees of purity, and certain precautions must be taken when applying DMSO. For these reasons, DMSO should be used only under the supervision of a doctor.
Refer to label instructions
Supplemental dimethyl sulfoxide applied to the affected area may reduce pain by inhibiting transmission of pain messages, and may also soften the connective tissue.
DMSO applied to the affected area may reduce pain by inhibiting transmission of pain messages, and may also soften the abnormal connective tissue associated with disorders such as Dupuytren’s contracture, keloids, Peyronie’s disease, and scleroderma. Research on the use of topical DMSO to treat Dupuytren’s contracture remains preliminary and unproven.14
Refer to label instructions
DMSO is believed to have antioxidant activity and was found in one study to reduce relapse rates better than the ulcer drug cimetidine (Tagamet).
Oral supplementation with dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) reduced relapse rates for peptic ulcer significantly better than did placebo or the ulcer drug cimetidine (Tagamet) in one study.15 Previous research showed that DMSO in combination with cimetidine was more effective than cimetidine alone.16 These trials used 500 mg of DMSO taken four times per day. The authors of these trials believe the antioxidant activity of DMSO may have a protective effect. Oral supplementation with DMSO should not be attempted without the supervision of a doctor.
Sprains and Strains
Refer to label instructions
DMSO has anti-inflammatory properties and may inhibit the transmission of pain messages by nerves. Supplementing with it may ease the pain of minor injuries.
The use of DMSO, a colorless, oily liquid primarily used as an industrial solvent, for therapeutic applications is controversial. However, some evidence indicates that dilutions, when applied directly to the skin, have anti-inflammatory properties and inhibit the transmission of pain messages by nerves, and in this way might ease the pain of minor injuries such as sprains and strains.17, 18, 19 However no controlled research exists to confirm these effects in sprains and strains. DMSO comes in different strengths and different degrees of purity. In addition, certain precautions must be taken when applying DMSO. For those reasons, DMSO should be used only with the supervision of a doctor.
How It Works
How to Use It
DMSO is not indicated for healthy people. Those who do use this substance should consult a doctor familiar with its use. Some physicians do not recommend the use of DMSO due to concerns about safety and questions about efficacy. The potential for contamination exists in some DMSO products designed for industrial uses. DMSO used topically is rapidly absorbed through intact skin. Therefore, the area of skin (and the hands applying DMSO) must be clean, because anything on the skin will also be absorbed along with the DMSO.
Where to Find It
DMSO is derived from trees as a manufacturing by-product from the processing of paper. Metabolites (breakdown products) of DMSO, such as the sulfide and sulfone forms, are naturally present in the human body. However, the role of these in the body is not clear.
DMSO is not an essential nutrient and it is not needed in the functions of a healthy body; therefore, deficiencies do not exist.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
At the time of writing, there were no well-known supplement or food interactions with this supplement.
Interactions with Medicines
As of the last update, we found no reported interactions between this supplement and medicines. It is possible that unknown interactions exist. If you take medication, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a new supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
The Drug-Nutrient Interactions table may not include every possible interaction. Taking medicines with meals, on an empty stomach, or with alcohol may influence their effects. For details, refer to the manufacturers’ package information as these are not covered in this table. If you take medications, always discuss the potential risks and benefits of adding a supplement with your doctor or pharmacist.
DMSO frequently causes a garlic-like body odor and taste in the mouth. Other reported side effects include stomach upset, sensitivity to light, visual disturbances, and headache. Skin irritation can develop at the site where DMSO is applied topically. Only highly purified, properly diluted DMSO should be used and the skin site and applying hand should be thoroughly cleaned before application, because the solvent properties of DMSO allow contaminants to be absorbed through the skin and transported into the bloodstream. Improperly diluted DMSO can also burn the skin. Check with a healthcare professional for appropriate use.
1. Kneer W, Kuhnau S, Bias P, et al. Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) gel in treatment of acute tendopathies. A multicenter, placebo-controlled, randomized study. Fortschritte Med 1994;112:142-6 [in German].
2. Lockie LM, Norcross BM. A clinical study on the effects of dimethyl sulfoxide in 103 patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries and inflammations. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1967;141:599-602.
3. Steinberg A. The employment of dimethyl sulfoxide as an antiinflammatory agent and steroid-transporter in diversified clinical diseases. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1967;141:532-50.
4. Brown JH, Wood DC, Jacob SW. Current status of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). A double blind evaluation of its therapeutic value in acute strains, sprains, bursitis and tendonitis. Bull Soc Int Chir 1972;31:561-6.
5. Brown JH. A double blind study-DMSO for acute injuries and inflammations compared to accepted standard therapy. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 1971;13:536-40.
6. Percy EC, Carson JD. The use of DMSO in tennis elbow and rotator cuff tendonitis: a double-blind study. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1981;13:215-9.
7. American Medical Association. Dimethyl sulfoxide. Controversy and Current Status-1981. JAMA 1982;248:1369-71 [review].
8. Jimenez RAH, Willkens RF. Dimethyl sulfoxide: A perspective of its use in rheumatic diseases. J Lab Clin Med 1982;100:489-500.
9. Eberhardt R, Zwingers T, Hofmann R. DMSO in patients with active gonarthrosis. A double-blind placebo controlled phase III study. Fortschr Med 1995;113:446-50 [in German].
10. Jacob SW, Wood DC. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Toxicology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. Am J Surg 114:414-26.
11. American Medical Association. Dimethyl sulfoxide. Controversy and Current Status-1981. JAMA 1982;248:1369-71 [review].
12. Jimenez RAH, Willkens RF. Dimethyl sulfoxide: A perspective of its use in rheumatic diseases. J Lab Clin Med 1982;100:489-500.
13. Jacob SW, Wood DC. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Toxicology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. Am J Surg 1967;114:414-26.
14. Jacob SW, Wood DC. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Toxicology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. Am J Surg 1967;114:414-26.
15. Salim AS. The relationship between Helicobacter pylori and oxygen-derived free radicals in the mechanism of duodenal ulceration. Internal Med 1993;32:359-64.
16. Salim AS. Allopurinol and dimethyl sulfoxide improve treatment outcomes in smokers with peptic ulcer disease. J Lab Clin Med 1992;119:702-9.
17. Swanson BN. Medical use of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Rev Clin Basic Pharmacol 1985;5:1-33 [review].
18. American Medical Association. Dimethyl sulfoxide. Controversy and Current Status-1981. JAMA 1982;248:1369-71 [review].
19. Jacob SW, Wood DC. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Toxicology, pharmacology, and clinical experience. Am J Surg 1967;114:414-26.
The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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