Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) has long been regarded as a medical miracle, with its versatile properties and wide-ranging applications in treating various ailments. Derived from wood pulp during paper production, DMSO is a colorless liquid that serves as a polar, aprotic solvent capable of dissolving both polar and nonpolar molecules. While its utilization in among Medical Doctors in rare, recent research suggests that DMSO holds great potential as a penetration-enhancing solvent excipient and an active anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical agent.
In this blog, we explore the history, chemistry, and clinical utility of DMSO as it pertains to uses as a healing agent, shedding light on its remarkable properties.
The Journey of DMSO
Originating from the German chemical industry of the 19th century, DMSO emerged as a by-product of the wood pulp-to-paper manufacturing process. Its unique properties as a polar, aprotic solvent led to extensive studies and applications across various chemical reactions. However, it was the observation of DMSO's ability to transport small molecules through barriers, including the skin, that sparked interest in its medical potential. Over the years, DMSO has been explored for tissue/organ preservation, penetration enhancement, and as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Learn more about why your primary care provider or Medical Doctor is not using this as a treatment option.
Exploring DMSO's Clinical Applications
While the use of DMSO in dermatology is currently limited, it has shown promise in certain areas. In conjunction with potassium hydroxide (KOH), DMSO is commonly used as a keratolytic agent to enhance the visualization of fungal hyphae in diagnosing dermatophyte infections. Additionally, DMSO has demonstrated potential in wound healing, particularly in the treatment of pressure ulcers. Its application in early-stage pressure ulcers has led to a decrease in occurrence among high-risk patients. Furthermore, studies have shown that topical DMSO promotes rapid wound healing, reduces signs of inflammation, and provides analgesic effects in decubitus ulcers.
DMSO as a Penetration Enhancer
One of the unique properties of DMSO lies in its ability to enhance the penetration of active substances through the skin, addressing the challenge of delivering therapeutic agents to deeper layers. By altering variables such as diffusion coefficient, concentration, and partition coefficient, DMSO facilitates the transport of solutes across the stratum corneum, the skin's outermost layer. It achieves this by interacting with intercellular lipids, creating microenvironments, and solubilizing less soluble agents in various vehicles.
Current Research and Future Directions
Recent clinical studies have shed light on the potential of DMSO in dermatology. Photodynamic therapy using DMSO as a penetration enhancer has shown favorable results in treating basal cell carcinoma and Bowen's disease. Furthermore, DMSO has exhibited remarkable efficacy in healing severe skin necrosis caused by accidental extravasation of anticancer drugs. The combination of DMSO with other compounds, such as alpha-tocopherol, has also shown promising outcomes.
"The DMSO Handbook for Doctors" by Archie H. Scott, combined with the research discussed in The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, highlights the incredible potential of DMSO. From its origins as a by-product of paper manufacturing to its ability to enhance penetration and facilitate wound healing, DMSO represents a promising avenue for future healing treatments.
As further research unfolds, it is crucial for medical professionals to explore the diverse applications of DMSO and unlock its full therapeutic potential, ultimately improving patient outcomes in the field of dermatology.
Interested in learning more about how to incorporate DSMO into your own individual physical therapy healing journey? Book an informational discovery consultation here:
Capriotti K, Capriotti JA. Dimethyl sulfoxide: history, chemistry, and clinical utility in dermatology. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2012 Sep;5(9):24-6. PMID: 23050031; PMCID: PMC3460663.
[Jacoblaboratories]. (2007, November 18). DMSO Dr. Stanley W. Jacob Part_1 [Video]. You Tube Nov 18, 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0i7jARfKeI
Scott, A. H. (2015, January 2). The DMSO Handbook for Doctors. https://www.eden-shop.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Scott-Archie-DMSO-Handbook.pdf
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