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Also indexed as: Dimethyl Sulfoxide


DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) is a colorless, slightly oily liquid that is primarily used as an industrial solvent.

Where is it found?

DMSO is derived from trees as a manufacturing by-product from the processing of paper. Metabolites (breakdown products) of DMSO, such as the sulfide and sulfone forms, are naturally present in the human body. However, the role of these in the body is not clear.

DMSO has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):

Science Ratings Health Concerns

Tendinitis (topical)


Osteoarthritis (topical)

Rheumatoid arthritis (topical)


Amyloidosis (topical)

Dupuytren’s contracture (topical)

Keloid scars (topical)

Peptic ulcer

Peyronie’s disease (topical)

Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (topical)

Scleroderma (topical)

Sprains and strains (topical)

3Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.

Who is likely to be deficient?

DMSO is not an essential nutrient and it is not needed in the functions of a healthy body; therefore, deficiencies do not exist.

How much is usually taken?

DMSO is not indicated for healthy people. Those who do use this substance should consult a doctor familiar with its use. Some physicians do not recommend the use of DMSO due to concerns about safety and questions about efficacy. 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.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

DMSO frequently causes a garlic-like body odor and taste in the mouth. Other reported side effects include stomach upset, sensitivity to light, visual disturbances, and headache. Skin irritation can develop at the site where DMSO is applied topically. Only highly purified, properly diluted DMSO should be used and the skin site and applying hand should be thoroughly cleaned before application, because the solvent properties of DMSO allow contaminants to be absorbed through the skin and transported into the bloodstream. Improperly diluted DMSO can also burn the skin. Check with a healthcare professional for appropriate use.

At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions with DMSO.

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