What is DMSO Gel?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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DMSO gel is a mixture of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) and a gel carrier. This product was originally designed for use as a solvent, but it also has demonstrated medical applications. In some nations, DMSO gel is fully approved and legal for various medical applications, while in other regions, its use is restricted. In nations with restrictions, companies sometimes sell purified forms labeled “for solvent use only” to get around restrictions on the sale of this product for medical purposes.

Dimethylsulfoxide is a byproduct of wood pulp processing. It has a number of uses including as an industrial solvent, as a catalyst for some chemical reactions, and in genetics research. In medicine, DMSO is sometimes used as a cryoprotectant with frozen organs, tissue, and similar products. DMSO is highly penetrating, so it will fully penetrate the tissue being frozen to provide complete protection. Other compounds can be suspended in it, using the DMSO as a vehicle to fully penetrate a sample.


In several regions of the world, DMSO gel is used for relief of pain and inflammation. It is sold in mixtures with a lower percentage of DMSO than industrial solvents to avoid skin irritation and to reduce the risk of side effects such as visual disturbances, dizziness, and headaches. The drug is applied topically, and will carry through the skin. Some products also use the DMSO gel as a carrier for other chemical compounds, taking advantage of how readily it penetrates the skin to introduce other compounds through absorption.

This product has an odor which is sometimes described as “fishy” or “garlic-like,” and people who use DMSO gel often notice that they acquire the odor while using the product, and sometimes experience the taste of fish or garlic when neither food is present. DMSO gels can also cause skin irritation, even when they are diluted for medical use, and the DMSO gel can act as a carrier for chemicals in the environment which could be dangerous to absorb through the skin, which is something to be aware of.

People who use DMSO products should be aware that the gel can damage clothing and eat through some types of gloves. It's important to apply it to clean, dry skin and to keep the container in a location out of the reach of children and pets. DMSO gel should be used under the supervision of a doctor to confirm that the product is safe and appropriate for use.


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Post 10

I have been using dmso for a couple years on my knees. Other than some itching, I have had no problems. You have to realize that if your knee problem is very deep, DMSO may not penetrate it deep enough.

You don't have to leave it on long. Wash it off after 15 minutes or so.

Post 9

One thing is not clear about topical use of DMSO. Does it really have any adverse effects on liver or kidneys? I can see that oral use might, but topical use is questionable to me.

Post 8

DMSO is amazing for pain relief when used properly. I am an avid tennis player and I use a solution of 70 percent DMSO and 30 percent Aloe Vera. I suffer from arthritis in both legs from my ankles to me knees. I use DMSO at least three to four times a week on my legs. I apply it at night after I shower and I am ready for bed. I also apply it to my tennis elbow and arthritic shoulder after my matches, when I have showered and cleaned up.

If it weren’t for DMSO, I am afraid I would not be playing much of anything. I endure vast amounts of pain in my legs for only participating. It is comforting to know that there is something available to ease my pain and let me continue to play sports. Do more research on DMSO and you will find the answers you are looking for. Thanks!

Post 7

DMSO works. Use 99.99 pure. Check out "DMSO:The Persecuted Drug" book by Dr. Stanley Jacobs.

Post 6

I asked the American Kidney Foundation if DMSO was bad for kidneys. They responded that it was not if used topically. If you doubt this, contact them.

As for DMSO "eating" through gloves, it means that the DMSO will penetrate some material like latex and carry the dirty stuff you have on your fingers or hands into your body. You don't want that. I use a special brush which has been sterilized.

Post 5

I just started using DMSO. I am a chronic pain patient. I had a botched T11 laminectomy. I have been on clonazepam and ultram for years to shut off the nerve pain. Amazingly, 30 minutes after I apply the gel to my skin on the long, nerve damaged scar, all pain ceases for several hours. I have not been pain free like this for years so it's the best feeling I have had in recent memory and I have stopped the drugs totally.

The problem is the 90 percent formula I got on ebay is rough in the skin, so I am about to order the 60 percent gel from Dr. Jacobs in Oregon. They make one that is supposed

to be gentle on the skin. It's ore expensive, but if it works as well as the one I have now, I might have a chance at a new life. Also,

I have more confidence that the one being sold by the doctor is going to be medical grade DMSO.

Oh, the garlic mouth taste they talk about is for real. It does not bother me a much as my pain, though, and it tells me that it really has penetrated my skin. I have also noticed a slight headache that goes away in an hour or so.

Post 4

I just bought the DMSO gel. I heard it was excellent for carrying medicines through the skin. How do you mix the medicine with the DMSO gel? and to what ratio of DMSO: Medicine? Does medicine have to be liquid based or can you crush pills and mix? Any help or knowledge would be appreciated.

Post 3

Great article -- I'd just like to add that it's really not a good idea to buy DMSO that is labeled "for solvent use only" and then try to use it medically, just to get around the FDA regulations.

I personally am a fan of DMSO cream, but still, it's just not safe to buy it if it's not produced for medical use. The side effects of DMSO are serious enough with one that is designed for medical use; you really don't want to mess with one with another concentration.

Besides, buying it like that you don't get the instructions on how to use DMSO for medical problems, which is very important if you want to avoid the side


So if you're really desperate for it, then try to get a buddy to send you some from Europe -- preferably, DMSO gel with aloe vera, to cut the smell and to help soothe the burn that comes with this very potent gel.


Post 2

@charlie89 -- I'm sorry to hear that your dad is in pain, but I'm not sure if DMSO gel is the right choice for you.

Like you said, the side effects of DMSO gel can be very serious, which in itself is a reason to be cautious when using this drug.

Common side effects of DMSO gel (aside from the smell, which is extremely pungent) include skin irritation, burning, headache, and sensitivity to light. Some people also experience stomach pain and problems with their vision, as well as dizziness and nausea.

In the long term, DMSO gel can damage your liver and kidneys, as well as your nervous system.

Now, although that sounds scary, that doesn't mean

it's not a good choice for some people. DMSO gel, with proper use, can work well for some people, but not knowing what your dad's exact condition is, I'd hesitate to recommend it.

The best thing you can do it to talk to your father's doctor and see what he recommends. If a topical anesthetic like Lidocaine isn't working any more, then perhaps he should look into a more powerful painkiller. Either way, I'd look at DMSO gel as a later choice.

Best of luck!

Post 1

I've heard really good things about DMSO cream, but I'm still kind of leery about it. I mean, I've heard that it has some pretty bad side effects, right?

And the sheer fact that it can eat through gloves kind of freaks me out.

On the other hand, I have been looking for a good pain relieving gel for my father. He's been using that Lidocaine gel, but it doesn't seem to be cutting it any more, so that's why I was looking for something stronger.

Has anybody reading this actually used DMSO gel, and can you tell me if it works better for you than topical Lidocaine? I'm really desperate for information; I just hate to see my dad in pain.


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