Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) Safe Supplement or Danger to Your Health?
Browse articles:
Auto Beauty Business Culture Dieting DIY Events Fashion Finance Food Freelancing Gardening Health Hobbies Home Internet Jobs Law Local Media Men's Health Mobile Nutrition Parenting Pets Pregnancy Products Psychology Real Estate Relationships Science Seniors Sports Technology Travel Wellness Women's Health
Browse companies:
Automotive Crafts, Hobbies & Gifts Department Stores Electronics & Wearables Fashion Food & Drink Health & Beauty Home & Garden Online Services & Software Sports & Outdoors Subscription Boxes Toys, Kids & Baby Travel & Events

Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) Safe Supplement or Danger to Your Health?

Is DMSO safe for humans. History, uses and controversy surrounding DMSO

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a solvent derived from wood pulp. DMSO is used for industrial, medical, veterinary and sports applications. The ability of DMSO to penetrate the skin enables it to carry intrinsic therapeutic properties along with other medications and components into the body with simple topical application. Although DMSO can be purchased from over-the-counter sources, it is only approved by the FDA for specific use in the treatment of a specific medical condition of the bladder. Before using DMSO, be sure to have a thorough consultation and evaluation with your health care provider or sports medicine professional.

Anti-inflammatory Analgesic

DMSO has been used for injuries in horses and dogs as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and pain reliever. When applied topically to an injured area, it provides quick relief and supports healing. Additional pain relieving medications can be mixed with DMSO for added benefit.

Athletes have begun using DMSO to treat injuries and sore muscles. Fast healing and pain management are important in maintaining the rigorous requirements of professional and amateur athletes. But, since there are no definitive standards for dosage or purity, the use of DMSO can be dangerous. Many athletes have acquired industrial or veterinary grade DMSO that are not appropriate for use in humans. 


Free radicals are atoms that are formed when the body is under stress either from illness, environmental stress or exercise. They attack and damage tissue and muscle making recovery long and difficult. DMSO is an antioxidant used to stop free radical damage by interacting with the free radical atoms neutralizing the damaging effect. Other antioxidants are vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene as well as the trace metal, selenium.

Steroid Use

Weightlifters are using DMSO to carry steroids into their system rather than use injections. In this case it is rubbed directly on the muscle that is the focus of the workout, allowing bodybuilders to push the muscle for additional sets. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of the DMSO also contributes to the ability to train more rigorously. Proper and safe training techniques are often ignored when DMSO and steroids are used. Steroids have been known to cause heart attacks, liver disease, cancer, suicide, extreme aggression and death. 

Warnings and Controversy

DMSO carries compounds through the skin allowing medications and other compounds to be delivered topically. DMSO does not differentiate between good substance and bad substances, therefore, if you have impurities or toxic substances on your skin or mixed with DMSO it will be carried through your skin and into your tissues.

FDA has not approved DMSO except for a narrow medical use for a particular bladder condition. Therefore there is no recommended dosage or route that can be definitively established.

Purity of product may be a problem especially if you are acquiring the product from unknown labs or sources. Industrial grade DMSO may contain impurities or toxins.

The American arthritis foundation does not recognize DMSO as an anti-inflammatory, and furthermore, reduction of pain does not necessarily mean reduction of inflammation and may prevent individuals from seeking proper care and medication for a disease that has serious implications if left untreated or under treated.

The American Cancer Society does not recommend the use of DMSO for the treatment of cancer.  

Care and caution should be the attitude of every person considering using DMSO. Do additional research and consult a health care provider or sports medicine professional.

Additional Reading:

National Council Against Health Fraud: DMSO; William T. Jarvis, Ph.D. (1997)

Additional resources:

Need an answer?
Get insightful answers from community-recommended
in Fitness & Working Out on Knoji.
Would you recommend this author as an expert in Fitness & Working Out?
You have 0 recommendations remaining to grant today.
Comments (6)

So it is more dangerous than safe. Good information for everyone.

Another expertly written piece on an important medical issue, Nicely done, my friemd.

I think there may come a time when it will be safely prescribe and used. I am hoping that the pharma companies are exploring uses and dosages for topical use in humans who have medical conditions that might be helped by it.. I am not a big fan of the FDA and sometimes see it as obstructionist but then all I have to do is think about Thalidomide.Caution is recommended.

Very important topic and very written, too. This is good to know the safety and dangers of this supplement. Thanks for sharing your expertise in this area. Voted

An expert discussion. This was all new to me.

this is a really informative piece of work. Thank you for writing this.