PDR Health

Dimethyl Sulfoxide

What is Dimethyl sulfoxide?

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO. This colorless liquid is an important polar aprotic solvent that dissolves both organic and inorganic compounds. It has a relatively high melting point. DMSO has been used as a cryoprotectant since the 1960s.

DMSO is miscible with water and many organic solvents, making it useful as a general-purpose solvent. However, its ability to dissolve ionic compounds makes it useful for extracting ions from solution, such as electrolytes. DMSO also readily crosses cell membranes, making it useful for delivering molecules into cells.

Dimethyl Sulfoxide

Health Benefits

Dimethyl sulfoxide has a number of benefits for human health, including reducing inflammation, relieving pain, and protecting cells from damage.

1. Anti-inflammatory effects

One of the most well-known benefits of dimethyl sulfoxide is its anti-inflammatory effects. Inflammation is a response to tissue injury or infection and is characterized by redness, swelling, and pain.

While inflammation is a natural and necessary process, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of serious diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Dimethyl sulfoxide has been shown to reduce inflammation in a variety of conditions, including arthritis, psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.

2. Pain relief

Dimethyl sulfoxide has also been shown to be an effective pain reliever. In a study of people with hand osteoarthritis, those who applied DMSO to their hands twice daily for 3 weeks experienced significant reductions in pain and improvements in grip strength and range of motion.

3. Protection against cell damage

Dimethyl sulfoxide has also been shown to protect cells from damage. In a study of human cells exposed to UV radiation, those treated with DMSO were less likely to die than those that were not.

DMSO is also being studied as a potential treatment for stroke. In a animal study, rats that were treated with DMSO immediately after suffering a stroke had less brain damage and better recovery than those that were not treated.

4. Other potential benefits

Dimethyl sulfoxide has also been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal effects. It is also being studied as a treatment for cancer, although more research is needed.

Side Effects and Risks

Dimethyl sulfoxide is generally well-tolerated when applied to the skin. The most common side effect is a temporary burning sensation. Some people may also experience skin irritation, redness, or swelling.

When taken by mouth, dimethyl sulfoxide can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It can also lead to headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness. Dimethyl sulfoxide should not be taken by mouth for more than 5 days.

Dimethyl sulfoxide can also interact with some medications, including blood thinners and diabetes medications. If you are taking any medication, be sure to talk to your doctor before using DMSO.

Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should avoid using dimethyl sulfoxide. There is not enough research to know if it is safe for pregnant women or their babies.

If you have any medical condition, be sure to talk to your doctor before using DMSO, as it may worsen certain conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes.

Dosage and Preparation

Dimethyl sulfoxide is available in a variety of forms, including creams, gels, lotions, and solutions. It can be found in health food stores and online.

There is no standard dose of dimethyl sulfoxide, as it depends on the condition being treated. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label or talk to your doctor before using DMSO.

When applied to the skin, dimethyl sulfoxide should be diluted with water or another solvent. When taken by mouth, it should be diluted in water or juice.

Some people may experience side effects when using dimethyl sulfoxide, including a burning sensation, skin irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and headaches. If you experience any serious side effects, stop using DMSO and talk to your doctor.

While dimethyl sulfoxide is generally safe when used as directed, it can cause serious side effects. Be sure to talk to your doctor before using DMSO, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Mechanism of Action

The exact mechanism of action of dimethyl sulfoxide is not known. It is thought to work by reducing inflammation and pain, protecting cells from damage, and increasing blood flow.


Dimethyl sulfoxide is rapidly absorbed through the skin and into the bloodstream. It is then metabolized by the liver and excreted in the urine.


The half-life of dimethyl sulfoxide is about 2 hours.