Glen Kohler, CMT

References and Reading on Natural Health


DMSO - for sprains and strains

DMSO stands for Dimethyl Sulfoxide—an organic solvent with numerous biological and therapeutic properties. DMSO is best known for helping with musculo-skeletal injuries and disorders such as strains, sprains, fractures, and a range of arthritic conditions. In clinical trials conducted by doctors DMSO has also been useful for frostbite, sinusitis, headache, and in more than one instance facilitated return of nerve and organ function following severe spinal chord injuries and nerve-induced blindness. It has also helped symptoms of chronic conditions such as scleroderma and MS.

A topical application of DMSO begins with diluting the colorless fluid with distilled water and applying it to the skin on and around the point of trauma or pain. If someone has a sprained wrist, for example, DMSO would be rubbed into the skin directly over the sprain and on both the hand and forearm three or four inches above and below the point of pain. As the DMSO enters the skin there will be a warming effect and most people experience a taste like garlic.

Trainers and athletes massage the area for ten to twenty minutes to help trigger DMSO's therapeutic properties. Since DMSO will be absorbed quickly, repeated applications during massage are recommended. Keep applying DMSO and keep rubbing it in. Two applications a day, morning and evening, for a week, is typical.

In Germany DMSO prescriptions are limited to 14 days of consecutive use, although human toxicity trials in California applied full-strength DMSO to the whole body for three months with no ill effects beyond itching and dry skin. All symptoms disappeared when DMSO was discontinued.

It is important to use pure DMSO (99.5% pure). The affected area and the hands must be washed and rinsed well to remove soap. A good therapeutic dilution is 70% DMSO and 30% distilled water. The solution will grow quite warm when the two substances are mixed. Unused portions of this solution will keep indefinitely in a closed container if not contaminated.

Due to politics—and for no other reason—DMSO is not approved by the FDA for medical use. It is widely used in veterinary medicine. And despite the lack of federal government approval, DMSO is used by professional sports teams, amateur athletes, and by many teachers and practitioners of the martial arts. The confidence with which DMSO is used appears to be justified by the large volume of medical research that was conducted between 1964 and 1987 in this country and on-going research and common medical use in Europe. DMSO has commanded the attention of researchers in the U.S. and Europe because of its amazing ability to penetrate living tissues and transport other substances. Extensive clinical trials and animal experiments all show DMSO is less toxic than practically any other compound used medically. Aspirin, for instance, which is available anywhere without a prescription, is more toxic than DMSO.

DMSO is produced as a by-product of industrial paper making and is cheaply available through veterinary sources, horse stables and equine suppliers, and some paint stores. It is also available on-line from these and other distributors:

Bibliography: The Persecuted Drug: the Story of DMSO by Pat McGrady, Sr.

This well researched book details the history of DMSO, it's medical aspects, and the horrific role played by the FDA in suppressing it. (All negative statements about DMSO are based upon unsupported assertions in 'white papers' and 'fact sheets' disseminated by the FDA.) This fascinating and worthwhile book is available in paperback from several sources on