DMSO “miracle cure” has been enjoying increasing popularity for some time. Pain, inflammation, joint problems, and even cancer are susceptible to the effects of this preparation. Here you can read all about DMSO, its effects and possibilities of use, but also the risks and side effects.
DMSO stands for dimethyl sulfoxide, a colorless and odorless liquid at room temperature that has been used as an aprotic solvent in the chemical industry for the past century.
DMSO occurs in large quantities as a by-product in the production of wood pulp. DMSO is also used in the pharmaceutical industry together with hydrogen peroxide as a solvent and extractant for many processes. (In Svern’s oxidation, for example, it oxidizes alcohols to aldehydes and ketones.)
Soon after it was discovered as a solvent, it was already recognized that dimethyl sulfoxide is capable of increasing the absorption of other substances through the skin and mucous membranes – which is known as the effect of accelerating penetration. For this reason, dimethyl sulfoxide is often combined today with other substances used externally to improve their absorption.
How does DMSO work?
The penetration-enhancing effect comes by interacting with cell membrane lipids. DMSO disrupts their regular structure and thus promotes the absorption of other active ingredients.
DMSO potentiates the effects of drugs
For example, the combination of dimethyl sulfoxide and cytostatic 5-fluorouracil has achieved better results in the treatment of warts than the administration of 5-fluorouracil alone. A cytostatic is a drug that inhibits cell proliferation and thus, among other things. used in chemotherapy. For example, 5-fluorouracil is used in the chemotherapy of colon and breast cancer. In small doses, the product can also be used externally for warts, because it has a toxic effect on this skin disease.
DMSO is also combined with heparin in some over-the-counter preparations (e.g. Doloben® Sport Gel) to increase the penetration of heparin into the subcutaneous tissue. This enables faster healing of blunt injuries and bruises, because heparin prevents blood clotting and thus improves the regression of bruises.
DMSO is a sulfur donor and in this way has an antioxidant effect
In addition to its penetration-promoting effects, DMSO also has pharmacological effects. It has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and analgesic effects, as well as promoting wound healing and antimicrobial action (similar properties to propolis).
Many of these beneficial properties are due to the fact that DMSO is a sulfur donor. This means that the body supplies sulfur atoms. Certain compounds in the human body, for example the amino acids cysteine, methionine, taurine and some of the enzymes and proteins based on them also contain sulfur.
This element is therefore an important part of living cells. All the mentioned amino acids and enzymes play an important role in numerous metabolic processes of antioxidants. The sulfur contained in DMSO is enzymatically released in the body, it is used to create these amino acids and enzymes and thus increases the body’s antioxidant capacity.
DMSO relieves pain and inflammation
Similarly, dimethyl sulfone, a degradation product of DMSO, inhibits the activity of an important inflammatory stimulating factor, NF-κB. As a result, less substances are formed that cause pain and inflammation and are vasodilated, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha. The above-mentioned NF-κB means the nuclear factor “cap-light chain enhancer” of activated B-cells.
DMSO and its degradation products
Studies have shown that dimethyl sulfoxide decomposes rapidly in cells to swallow dimethyl sulfide (DMS) and dimethyl sulfone when ingested, administered intravenously, or applied to the skin. The first is responsible for the peculiarity of DMSO: the smell like garlic.
Although DMSO itself is absolutely odorless, in some people it creates an unpleasant odor such as garlic even after application to the skin. Specific receptors on nerve cells are likely to be involved in this activity. These receptors are normally activated by olfactory stimuli. As a result of the activation of these receptors, the body receives a signal for the “smell of garlic”.
Another decomposition product, dimethyl sulfone, has another, much better known name, namely methyl sulfonyl methane ( MSM ), also known as organic sulfur.
Areas of application of DMSO
DMSO is very effective for treating:
Problems with bruises and swelling
- Limb trauma
- Sports injuries
- Circulatory problems
- Symptoms of localized osteoarthritis and arthritis (for example arthrosis of the wrists or knees)
- Improving circulation
DMSO: Useful application information
Ointments, creams, lotions, sprays or gels are applied several times a day in sufficient quantities (3-5 cm strand of ointment) on the affected areas and gently massaged. Highly effective concentrations of up to 50% are used experimentally for neuropathic pain or pain disorders that are difficult to treat (eg Sudeck’s disease).
Use on the eye and on open wounds, such as tissue burns or severe sunburn, should only be performed under medical supervision. The results of the efficacy study with this type of use are not clear and do not allow general recommendations. There is also evidence that topically applied DMSO increases the likelihood of ulcers (pressure ulcers) in bedridden patients.