DMSO Topically

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.

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.

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, F.A.A.F.P., F.A.A.E.M., 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.”

DMSO was the first NSAID discovered since aspirin. 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.

Some products contain DMSO as part of their formualtion. One such OTC topical product is called Soothanol X2.


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.” [Scherbel, A.L., McCormack, L.J., Layle, J.K. Further observations on the effect of dimethyl sulfoxide in patients with generalized scleroderma (progressive systemic sclerosis). Ann NY Acad Sci 141:613-629, 1967]


Fungal Skin / Nail Infection

DMSO can be mixed in equal parts with any of the other antifungals mentioned here to improve penetration of the active agents into the nail and skin.



DMSO has been used successfully to reduce inflammation and pain.




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.


Knee Pain

Double-blind and other controlled studies have found a 25% DMSO gel effective for pain relief in osteoarthritis of the knee.


Peyronie's Disease

Like many treatments, no studies have been done to measure the efficacy rate of using DMSO to treat PD. However, there have been anecdotal reports of everything from excellent improvement to no improvement at all.

As stated before, the use of DMSO for therapeutic applications is controversial, but some evidence indicates that DMSO has anti-inflammatory properties and alleviates pain when applied to the skin. These effects have been reported particularly with connective tissue diseases. DMSO applied to the affected area appears to reduce pain by inhibiting transmission of pain messages by nerves and may also soften the abnormal connective tissue associated with disorders such as Dupuytren’s contracture, keloids, Peyronie’s Disease, and scleroderma.





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.

A DMSO cocktail consisting of 50cc of 50% DMSO plus 5,000 to 10,000IU of heparin, 10,000mg of triamcinolone acetonide or the equivalent, and 44mEq of bicarbonate was installed in 6 to 8 weekly therapies. Of the patients treated, 55% had either an excellent or a fair response. The average length of response was 10 months. If the patients had a good initial response they were placed on a monthly maintenance for 8 to 12 additional months. This occured in approximately 25% of patients. After this mixture was placed in the bladder, the catheter was removed and the patient asked to hold the medication for 15 to 40 minutes and then void. The DMSO or the DMSO cocktail is safe, effective and generally free of local or systemic side effects.

RIMSO-50 (DMSO) is being sold as indicated for the symptomatic relief of patients with interstitial cystitis. At over $50.00 for 50ml, this particular preparation seems overpriced. Never-the-less, here is some information about it.

Instillation of 50 mL of RIMSO-50 directly into the bladder may be accomplished by catheter or aseptic syringe and allowed to remain for 15 minutes. Application of an analgesic lubricant gel such as lidocaine jelly to the urethra is suggested prior to insertion of the catheter to avoid spasm, but is generally not needed in women. The medication is expelled by spontaneous voiding. It is recommended that the treatment be repeated every two weeks until maximum symptomatic relief is obtained. Thereafter, time intervals between therapy may be increased appropriately.


May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended



Most commonly 'topical application': Administration to the skin.


Agent which relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.


Usually Chronic illness: Illness extending over a long period of time.


A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.

Free Radical

A free radical is an atom or group of atoms that has at least one unpaired electron. Because another element can easily pick up this free electron and cause a chemical reaction, these free radicals can effect dramatic and destructive changes in the body. Free radicals are activated in heated and rancid oils and by radiation in the atmosphere, among other things.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

A long-term, destructive connective tissue disease that results from the body rejecting its own tissue cells (autoimmune reaction).


A non-essential mineral. Tissues such as arteries, tendons, skin, connective tissue, cornea and sclera (white of the eye) contain relatively large amounts of silicon. Collagen, the protein glue that holds us together, contains silicon in silanolate form. While vitamin C functions only as a catalyst in the formation of collagen, silicon is actually a structural part of collagen. Silicon containing substances are found in all cartilage and in the material binding cells together. Silicon may be needed for proper bone structure and growth.

Autoimmune Disease

One of a large group of diseases in which the immune system turns against the body's own cells, tissues and organs, leading to chronic and often deadly conditions. Examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, Bright's disease and diabetes.


Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.


Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms, without directly acting on the cause of inflammation, e.g., glucocorticoids, aspirin.


A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.

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