A brief history of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO)

A brief history of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO)

by Leslie Wright on Feb 07, 2023

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a colorless, not really odorless liquid that has a long and varied history of uses. It was first synthesized in 1866 by a Russian chemist named Alexander Saytzeff, who was attempting to create a new type of sulfuric acid. However, it wasn't until much later that the true potential of DMSO was discovered.

DMSO was first studied for medicinal purposes in the early 20th century by Dr. Stanley Jacob, an orthopedic surgeon and researcher at the University of Oregon. Dr. Jacob discovered that DMSO had the ability to penetrate the skin and deliver other compounds, such as medications, to the deeper layers of the tissue. This led to its use as a carrier solution for various drugs, such as cyclosporine, an immunosuppressive agent used to prevent transplant rejection.

In the 1960s, Dr. Jacob began to explore the potential uses of DMSO for treating a variety of medical conditions. He found that it had anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties and could be useful in treating conditions such as osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and herniated discs.

DMSO quickly gained popularity as a treatment for these conditions and became a common component in many pain-relieving creams and gels. However, its use was not without controversy as some studies were showing conflicting results of its effectiveness. The FDA approved DMSO for treating interstitial cystitis, a condition that causes chronic bladder pain, in 1978.

As DMSO research continued, other potential applications were discovered. DMSO was found to have significant wound healing properties, and it was used as an treatment for burns, frostbite, and other types of skin injuries. Additionally, it was found to have the ability to reduce the appearance of scars, and improve the overall appearance of the skin.

In recent years, DMSO has also been studied for its potential uses in the treatment of cancer. Some studies have suggested that DMSO may be able to improve the effectiveness of certain cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy. However, these studies are still in the early stages and more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of DMSO in cancer treatment.

In addition to its medicinal uses, DMSO is also used in a variety of industrial applications. It is used as a solvent for chemical reactions, as a degreaser, and as a rust remover, among other things.

Lastly, DMSO is a liquid that has been known for more than a century, but it was not until the 20th century that its true potential was discovered. The discovery of its ability to penetrate the skin and deliver other compounds, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties, wound healing, scar reduction and its potential use in cancer treatment have made it a popular and useful substance in the medical and industrial fields. Despite its many potential benefits, more research is still needed to fully understand the uses of DMSO and its potential side effects.