DMSO, Is it just a smelly solvent, or is it?

It is a good solvent that is frequently used for responses involving salts, especially nucleophilic substitutions. However, it’s the unusual property that it may pass through membranes and rubber gloves quite easily, and penetrate the skin.

After contact with it upon the skin, some people today discover that DMSO is secreted out on the surface of the tongue causing a garlic-like flavour in the mouth, and garlic breath!


Well, in fact, that land is very helpful, Since DMSO can dissolve certain useful medications and transfer them through the skin without the need for an injection. DMSO is mainly used as a localised painkiller, as an anti-inflammatory, and also an antioxidant. It’s frequently combined with antifungal drugs, permitting them to penetrate the skin, and also fingernails and toenails.

Who discovered this?

DMSO is a by-product of all kraft Pulping which is the conversion of timber into
wood pulp comprising almost pure cellulose fibres. Wood-chips are treated with a combination of sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide (known as white spirits ), which break the bonds that connect lignin to cellulose. Oxidation of dimethyl sulfide with oxygen or nitrogen dioxide gives DMSO.


DMSO was first synthesized in 1866 by the Russian scientist Alexander Zaytsev .

However, the history of DMSO as a pharmaceutical began While exploring the potential for DMSO as a preservative for organs, he discovered that it penetrated the skin quickly and intensely without damaging it, and eventually became inquisitive.

DMSO is a clear, colourless, hygroscopic liquid. It will dissolve many inorganic salts.

Its capability to penetrate the skin Is a Result of the Fact that the molecule is highly polar, but also because it’s two methyl groups that interact strongly with lipids from the skin.


One particular danger associated with DMSO is that although perhaps not
considered poisonous itself, it’s highly effective at moving other (potentially toxic) compounds into the body through skin contact. As an instance, skin contact with DMSO and a cyanide salt would pose a higher risk of cyanide poisoning. DMSO will
dissolve and penetrate standard rubber gloves, so alternative materials should be utilized like butyl rubber or blue nitrile.

Even Though It is non-toxic for brief exposures, other Safety concerns related to DMSO are that it may be irritant and detrimental in higher dosages. Prolonged exposure can lead to dermatitis, and potentially to kidney and liver damage. It can create explosive reactions with some chemicals, such as acid chlorides.

What is it used for?

DMSO is broadly used as a solvent in many organic Syntheses and has many important industrial applications including polymer chemistry, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals. It is a dipolar aprotic solvent and has many similar attributes to
dimethylformamide (DMF) (see structure right). It is frequently employed as the solvent for SN2 syntheses and in the preparation of organometallics like ferrocene. It is particularly good for this as it can dissolve a broad range of chemicals, and does not interfere with the sample signs excessively. DMSO is used in antifreeze and it makes an effective paint stripper, which is safer than many other items like nitromethane and dichloromethane. DMSO also has several veterinary applications, such as as a liniment for horses, which relieves pain when rubbed on the muscles.

Buy DMSO in the UK

It’s a lot of applications. Why is it controversial?


Dr Jacob dmso UK

According to Stanley Jacob, more than 40,000 articles on the chemistry of DMSO have appeared in scientific journals.11,000 articles are written on its medical and clinical implications, and in 125 countries across the globe, physicians prescribe
it for a variety of ailments, such as pain, inflammation, scleroderma, interstitial cystitis, arthritis and elevated intracranial pressure. Yet in the united states, before 2016 DMSO had Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval only for use as a
preservative of organs for transplant and for interstitial cystitis, a bladder disease!

After its clinical effects were found in 1961 It wasn’t long before reporters, the pharmaceutical industry, and patients with a variety of health care complaints jumped to the news. However, as DMSO was broadly accessible as a solvent and industrial chemical (rather than as a restricted drug), patients did not have to acquire a physician’s prescription to find it. As a result, many individuals began to dose themselves, often without understanding the correct dose or possible side-effects. As a consequence of the uncontrolled treatments, the FDA was unable to affirm that its experimentation and usage were safe. The mainstream medical community became soured, and DMSO was tainted with a bad reputation ever since.

Another problem with clinical testing is the fact that its main side-effect, garlic-smelling breathtaking double-blind experiments hard because the patients (and physicians ) can always tell who’d been given DMSO and who had the placebo! The odour also puts off drug companies, who fear it would be tough to market. Without potential profits, drug companies wouldn’t spend countless medical testing required for FDA approval.

The controversy really began in November 1965, When an Irish woman died of an allergic reaction after taking DMSO together with many other drugs. Although the exact cause of death was never determined, the press reported it to be DMSO. At roughly the same time laboratory animals that were given doses of DMSO many times greater than could be awarded individuals developed abnormalities in their own eye lenses. Two months later the FDA closed all clinical trials of DMSO from the USA, citing the female’s death and the negative findings from animal experiments as the motive.

Guess who has been using DMSO…or was it only beans for dinner?

But 20 Decades And countless laboratory and human studies later, no additional deaths have been reported, nor have changes from the opinion of individuals been reported or maintained. However, the FDA has denied seven applications to conduct clinical studies and approved only 2, one for interstitial cystitis which was subsequently approved for prescription use in 1978, and yet another for the treatment of closed head trauma.

In 2016 the EPA eventually approved DMSO for medicinal Use in the US, which at last opens up a lot of possible uses.