There comes a time when you just need to forget the approval of the Food and Drug Administration and use a product that has been proven effective. Many effective treatments are available that lack sanctioning or approval for various reasons, including politics and bias. In this category, a product known as DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is a useful substance that has a long history of being ignored, or even blackballed, yet has helped millions of people in pain.
DMSO has strong anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Originally a commercial solvent used in the wood industry in the early 1950s, DMSO was first applied in the medical field as a preservative for transporting organs during the 1960s. Stanley Jacob, M.D., a former head of the organ transplant program at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Ore., started looking into its potential as a healing agent when he saw how fast and how deeply it penetrated the skin.
Since the ’60s, more than 40,000 articles concerning DMSO have appeared in scientific journals. They show DMSO to have versatile properties and numerous health benefits. In fact, according to Terry Bristol, president of the Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy in Portland, DMSO was the first non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) discovered after aspirin. He believes it is this product that spurred research into the development of other NSAIDs.
Too Good For The FDA?
As a result of its early heralding of being a “wonder” product, many companies tried to patent DMSO. However, the FDA rejected approval across the board, mainly because it has a wide range of attributes, not merely one (as drugs need for approval). In other words, a drug needs to be effective for a single illness, focusing on the symptoms and not the causes of health problems. This represents a perverse reversal of the perspective of traditional healing systems.
DMSO, however, violates the FDA’s narrow requirement with its ability to help numerous health issues, including pain, inflammation, sprains, arthritis, stroke, clots, central nervous system trauma, minor cuts and burns (it speeds healing) as well as protection against cancerous cells. Yet in the United States, DMSO has FDA approval only for use as a preservative of organs for transplant and for interstitial cystitis (a bladder disease).
I love DMSO and use it as often as needed. Among the topical analgesics and anti-inflammatory products out there, it is among the safest and most effective. In fact, it stands perhaps alone in its ability to be administered topically, orally and intravenously.
When applied topically, it absorbs quickly into the skin and reaches deeper tissues and membranes. It has been found to be a great carrier of other substances, and it aids in their absorption. I sometimes use other topical pain/inflammation creams mixed with DMSO gel to help reduce pain and inflammation. When antifungals, cortisone and penicillin are mixed with a DMSO solution of between 70 percent and 90 percent, you get quicker and deeper penetration of the tissues. I use the 70 percent solution for regular pain, sprains, inflammation from exercise or daily strain. When there is particular pain or stiffness or inflammation, I use the 90 percent solution.
How And Why It Works
DMSO has antioxidant properties. As such, it neutralizes free radicals around an injured site. It also stabilizes and stops leakage from damaged cell membranes. This combination effectively reduces inflammation. What’s more, according to lab studies, DMSO reduces pain by blocking peripheral nerve C fibers.
It is thought that DMSO works because it is rich in sulfur. This element is among the most abundant in the body and plays a role in the formation of muscle, skin, hair and nails. Sulfur is also one of the building blocks of collagen, the connective tissue that makes up cartilage. Studies indicate that cartilage afflicted with degenerative arthritis contains low levels of sulfur. As such, DMSO is often used for those suffering arthritis and joint pain, though it is equally effective for muscle pain and spasms.
Forget About FDA Approval Here
The way DMSO is viewed by the FDA is, to me, perverse. I subscribe to the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) philosophy that a medicine (in the TCM case, herbal medicine) is considered “low” if it works on only one or two health issues. The TCM concept holds that many health issues arise from the same or similar root causes, so a remedy must treat the “root” (the cause) and not just the “branches” (the symptoms). Therefore, a remedy is considered “high” when it effectively treats multiple health concerns concurrently; this means it is correcting the root imbalance causing the symptoms. The FDA, with its single-use philosophy, misses the boat and will never approve safer and more powerful substances, like DMSO. And when it sanctions trials on Chinese herbals, it isolates individual compounds to then make them suitable for pharmaceutical (single-use) drugs. What a pity.
DMSO is available online. I get mine from Amazon. If you are suffering pain, inflammation, arthritis or other related ailments, give it a try. Do more research if you like; I list a number of articles below for your reference. Remember, DMSO is safe and it works.
1) Kolb, K.H., Jaenicke, G., Kramer, M., Schulze, P.E. Absorption, distribution, and elimination of labeled dimethyl sulfoxide in man and animals. Ann NY Acad Sci 141:85-95, 1967.
3) Evans, M.S., Reid, K.H., Sharp, J.B. Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) blocks conduction in peripheral nerve C fibers: A possible mechanism of analgesia. Neurosci Lett 150:145-148, 1993.
4) Demos, C.H., Beckloff, G.L., Donin, M.N., Oliver, P.M. Dimethyl sulfoxide in musculoskeletal disorders. Ann NY Acad Sci 141:517-523, 1967.
5) Lockie, L.M., Norcross, B. A clinical study on the effects of dimethyl sulfoxide in 103 patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal injures and inflammation. Ann NY Acad Sci 141:599-602, 1967.