The EclecticPhysician

The Eclectic Physician
Q&A Archive
By Dr. Beth Burch

DSMO for pain relief.


I just tested positive for RA. Can you tell me anything about DSMO for pain relief and anti-inflammatory? Is it safe?


DMSO or dimethyl sulfoxide, is a sulfur compound. It is only approved in prescription form for the treatment of interstitial cystitis. It has been used experimentally in the treatment of spinal cord injury and there are many anecdotes of successful use to treat musculoskeletal pain in humans and animals. DMSO can cause a severe allergic reaction in some people, and it causes birth defects in animals, causes cataracts in animals given high doses long term and may potentiate other medications.

If your doctor will prescribe the prescription form for you, it might be worth a try as a topical application. However, the DMSO that is available without a prescription is not for external or internal use. It is a solvent and as such does not have the purity that is available in the prescription form. This is important because DMSO is an excellent medium for carrying all kinds of things into the bloodstream, even when applied topically. Solvent grade DMSO can contain heavy metals and residues of other toxic substances that you don't want in your body. For that reason, I strongly recommend against using any solvent grade DMSO.

A safe alternative to DMSO that also contains similar sulfur compounds is MSM or methylsulfonylmethane. It is available as a supplement that is taken orally and is not associated with any toxic effects. While there is not much scientific evidence to support its use for arthritis, there are many anecdotal reports of it helping. You might want to give the MSM a try instead of the DMSO.

Sulfur is an important component of healthy connective tissue. This is thought to be the reason that the sulfur compounds in MSM and in DMSO are helpful for inflammation.

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* The information presented in this web site is intended to inform and educate. It is not intended replace a qualified medical practitioner to diagnose or treat medical conditions.

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