Health Guide

Dimethyl sulfoxide

What is it?

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a dietary supplement used to treat interstitial (in-ter-STISH-al) cystitis (sis-TI-tis) (bladder infection). It may also be used to treat arthritis, sprains, strains, bruises, and fractures. DMSO may also be used to treat Alzheimer's (ALTZ-hi-merz) disease, burns, cancer, colitis, lupus, and muscle pain. Other uses include the treatment of gallstones, herpes, pancreas infection (in-FECK-shun), stroke, tuberculosis (too-ber-ku-LO-sis), and ulcers (UL-serz).

Other names for DMSO include: Methyl sulfoxide, NSC-763, and SQ-9453.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic (uh-LER-jik) to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breast feeding
  • have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease


Talk with your caregiver about how much DMSO you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking it. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain (3)
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • You may have changes in your blood that only a blood test will find (1,2,4)
  • Fast heartbeat (4)
  • Agitation (nervousness) (4)
  • Brain function changes (5)
  • Dizziness, headache, feeling of calmness or tiredness (1,6)
  • Nerve inflammation (swelling) causing redness, itching, and pain (7,8)
  • Fever, shivering, nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up)(1,4)
  • Bad breath when DMSO is taken by mouth or put on your skin (1)
  • Jaundice (yellow skin) and other liver problems (9,10)
  • Sore throat, cough, flu-like symptoms, dry nasal passages (nose) (1)
  • Red, itchy or painful skin (11) or skin burning, blistering, drying, or scaling (1,12-14)


1. Brobyn RD: The human toxicology of dimethyl sulfoxide. Ann NY Acad Sci 1975; 243:497-506.

2. Muther RS & Bennett WM: Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on renal function in man. JAMA 1980; 244:2081-2083.

3. Klingman AM: Topical pharmacology of dimethyl sulfoxide 1 and 2. JAMA 1965; 193:786-804, 923-928.

4. O'Donnell JR, Burnett AK, Sheehan T et al: Safety of dimethylsulfoxide. Lancet 1981; 1(8218):498.

5. Bond GR & Curry Sc: Dimethylsulphoxide-induced encephalopathy (letter). Lancet 1989; 1(8647):1134-1135.

6. Council Report: Dimethyl sulfoxide. Controversy and current status-1981. JAMA 1982; 248:1369-1371.

7. Swanson BN, Ferguson RK, Raskin NH et al: Peripheral neuropathy after concomitant administration of dimethyl sulfoxide and sulindac. Arthritis Rheum 1983; 26(6):791-793.

8. Reinstein L, Mahn R & Russo GL: Peripheral neuropathy after concomitant dimethyl sulfoxide use and suldinac therapy. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1982; 63(11):581-584.

9. Anon: Meeting on DMSO reveals studies of old wonder drug are resuming. JAMA 1974; 227:601.

10.Yellowlees P, Greenfield C & McIntyre N: Dimethylsulphoxide-induced toxicity. Lancet 1980; 2(8202):1004-1006.

11. Nishimura M, Takano Y & Toshitani S: Systemic contact dermatitis medicamentosa occurring after intravesical dimethyl sulfoxide treatment for interstitial cystitis (letter). Arch Dermatol 1988; 124(2):182-183.

12. Product Information: Rimso-50(R), dimethyl sulfoxide. Research Industries Corp, Salt Lake City, UT; 1991.

13. Reynolds JEF (ed): Martindale: The Extra Pharmacopoeia (electronic version). Micromedex, Inc, Denver, CO; 1991.

14. Rubin LF: Toxicity of dimethyl sulfoxide, alone and in combination. Ann NY Acad Sci 1975; 243:98-103.

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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