Sunday, October 22, 2017

DMSO (don’t you know) - Full Article

osted on September 1, 2017 by Doctor Ramey in Drugs and Medications, General Information, Lameness, Lameness Therapeutics, Medicine
DMSO is the much quicker and easier way to say, “Dimethyl sulfoxide.” About that, pretty much everyone agrees. It goes downhill from there.

Although it was first synthesized way back in 1866 by a Russian scientist, DMSO first started being touted in medicine in the 1960s, I remember first hearing about DMSO in the 1970s. In fact, I remember hearing about it on a “60 Minutes” program, on a Sunday evening. Here’s the introduction, featuring the late, great Mike Wallace.


QUICK ASIDE: This whole DMSO thing had a bit of a culty feel to it. There were charges about the “medical establishment” keeping DMSO under wraps, of wanting to suppress a miracle cure, and that sort of thing. That was about 50 years ago, and now you can pick it up at tack stores. In what may not come as a great surprise, Jacob Lab still sells the stuff, too. (Dr. Jacob passed away in 2015, at the age of 91.)

I recall being swept up in all of this enthusiasm. In fact, as a student, I – apparently much less worried about nuances such as science and proof – was fairly certain that all of my teachers in veterinary school had missed the boat when it came to treating tendon injuries in horses. All I thought you had to do was rub DMSO on them, and, “poof,” the inflammation in the tendon would be gone and the tendon would be better. Naivete is a wonderful thing when it comes to promoting therapies.


DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide, which is also the last time that I am going to type this out) comes from a substance found in wood. It’s a by-product of paper making. DMSO is an organic compound – that is, it contains carbon – that also contains sulfur. It’s colorless, but definitely not odorless. It’s been used as a solvent since the mid-19th century, and it can dissolve many other substances: in the case of DMSO, a whole lot of other substances, such as herbicides, fungicides, plant hormones, and even some antibiotics. It also mixes well with many other substances, which is one reason why it gets mixed into so many substances.


Two things, mostly. First, since sometime in the mid-20th century, researchers have explored its use as an anti-inflammatory agent. It’s also sometimes used to try to increase the body’s absorption of other medications. Which means:

1. People slap the stuff into or onto horses that have any condition of which inflammation can be a component (which are many), and,
2. People frequently mix the stuff with other medications in hopes that you can get more medicine into the horse, particularly when those medicines are applied to the skin...

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