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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DMSO - Fifty Odd Years of History

I have been reading a bit about DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide).

This is a chemical, known since the 1800's, that's been ascribed a number of miraculous abilities: curing cancer, stopping pain, stopping sinus problems, healing sore and injuries, acting as an analgesic, anti-oxidant and anti-inflamatory.

One of the things that is, to me, most interesting is that DMSO has the properties of a solvent and it can penetrate the skin.

Why is this interesting?

Well, for one thing if you apply DMSO to your skin in flows through your skin and, within a few minutes, you can "taste" it in your mouth and others can smell it on your breath.

The other interesting thing is that if you paint, say, Lugol's iodine, on your skin and you paint DMSO over that the Lugol's is dissolved by the DMSO and transported into your body within a few minutes.

DMSO first came to the attention of "modern medicine" around 1963 when a doctor named Stanley Jacob at the University of Oregon became involved with DMSO (which is a byproduct of making paper) and began to study its medical properties.

DMSO is not, however, without controversy.

Initially the FDA and Dr. Jacob had a variety of issues over how Dr. Jacob was investigating DMSO and its medical uses.  (There are many books and web sites chronicling this:, "The Persecuted Drug: The Story of DMSO" (1980) - chapter 6 here, this, and of course Wikipedia.  The bottom line is that it is approved by the FDA for only a few very specific human uses.)

Today there is something like a million published scientific articles on DMSO - none of which really "proves" anything one way or the other about DMSO and its effects on humans.  Is it dangerous, to some degree yes, just like anything else.  Does it help people, for example, with arthritis?  Yes.

I recall the controversy from the 1970's.  DMSO was one of the first examples at the time of "big government" interfering with people doing what they wanted to do.  DMSO was seen as a cheap and wondrous chemical that would cure many diseases and diminish a variety of pain and the evil FDA as preventing people from accessing it.

My own interest here is this.  Considering the effectiveness of iodine I wonder if using Lugol's or povidine iodine with DMSO, for example, would create an effective treatment things like MRSA or other bacterial skin infections.

Iodine from my own experimentation seems to work well but if you have a problem under your skin its more difficult to apply.  DMSO might provide a simple and effective solution.

In researching povidone iodine I discovered that its one of the few 100% effective treatments for MRSA (see this).

I was also wondering if such a mixture would work for cold sores...

I have used the various cold sore medicines but I really don't know much about them or how they work - plus they are expensive.  Others have written about this as well using other solutions.

So I have been looking around for "medical grade" DMSO - apparently there is no such thing.  The best I can find is the 99.98% pure stuff (not injectable, not a drug) at this site:

This site is related to the Dr. Jacob who first became involved with DMSO as I described above.

(Note that DMSO and various mixtures all have been in use in the veterinary world for many years.)

Quality DMSO is cheap as is povidone iodine: a jug (1 gallon) of povidone iodine can set you back around $18 USD (at amazon).  DMSO, depending on the source, about $15 USD for 8oz or so.

In any case I think that having these solutions handy is a good thing in any case.

I bought a used copy of the "The Persecuted Drug" mentioned above - copyright 1980.  Interesting stuff but not much science.

I think that DMSO, which is a relatively simple molecule, says a lot about how little we know.  A million scientific papers - is the stuff good for you over the long run?

Who knows...

A lot of people are willing to try it based on the hype.

I've known about it for 40 years or so...  And so far nothing concrete.

Still, people swear by it and use it - in some cases use it a lot - and it seems to work.

I am certain that because DMSO is cheap and plentiful there isn't much interest in commercializing it.  What would be the point.  No matter how wonderful it really is...

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