DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) Benefits, Side Effects and Information

Dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, is a colorless, sulfur-containing organic liquid compound with a faint scent of sulfur and mixes readily with a wide range of water-insoluble and water-soluble substances. DMSO is rapidly absorbed into the body if ingested and if simply touched by the hands very quickly produces a garlic-like taste. DMSO occurs naturally in many plants including vegetables, grains, fruits, and even in some animal products.

In the past DMSO has been sold in vitamin stores and used both externally and internally, marketed as treatment for aches and pains. DMSO is approved by the FDA for the palliative treatment of interstitial cystitis and for limited veterinary use. It is not allowed for use as a dietary supplement. A second-generation DMSO, methylsulfonylmethane or MSM (see Methylsulfonylmethane), which is a metabolite of DMSO, is marketed as a dietary supplement.

DMSO is also known as sulfinylbismethane and methyl sulfoxide. The inclusion of DMSO, which is not a nutritional supplement in this PDR, is for historical and informational purposes and because one of its metabolites, methylsulfonylmethane or MSM, is marketed as a nutritional supplement. The claims for MSM are related to claims made for DMSO.

Usage Recommendations

DMSO is neither a nutritional supplement nor an over-the-counter product. It is used in connection with interstitial cystitis, performed by interstitial instillation, and requires a physician with expertise in this procedure. 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.