The Broad Clinical Utility of DMSO
DMSO is a solvent derived from the processing of wood pulp. It is also known as “horse liniment” because of its extensive use in veterinary medicine in the management of strains and sprains. I wrote a brief piece about its use in humans for soft tissue injuries in this newsletter several weeks ago. It has been called a “new therapeutic principle” by researchers because of its unique mode of action, and potentially widespread applicability. It is a penetrant, a solvent, and a powerful anti-infective. Nothing can grow in a bottle of DMSO. It can now be found at health food stores, although in years past could only be obtained from farm and feed stores. All DMSO is still labeled “not for human use’ or “avoid contact with the skin” because of FDA regulations. If you recall, the response of my son’s orthopedist to our successful use of DMSO on his ankle sprain (“oh, don’t use that!”) nicely illustrated the fact that use of this substance is definitely out of the medical mainstream.
The variety of conditions which DMSO can help is amazing. First, topical application on the skin over areas of soft tissue injury will reduce swelling and pain very quickly (I usually combine it with an arnica containing ointment or cream like Traumeel). Certain chemotherapy drugs (for example doxycycline) are so caustic that if the medication leaks out of the vein (extravasation), severe damage and ulceration of the skin can occur. DMSO applied soon after the incident can help prevent this. DMSO also can help bunions, fungal toe nails, gout, and corns, and calluses (especially in combination with a gel of castor oil and baking soda). In a 15% solution combined with anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial substances (sanguinaria, oil of oregano, citrus seed extract), DMSO does wonders for periodontal disease and athlete’s foot. The only FDA approved indication for DMSO is for intra-bladder administration in cases of interstitial cystitis. It is useful in the treatment of burns, will reduce keloid formation, and IV is an effective treatment for swelling of the brain and spinal cord after stroke or trauma. Topical DMSO can also aid in the healing of herpes and shingles lesions, scleroderma, and amyloidosis.
I am not by any means suggesting that patients should attempt to treat themselves for any or all of these conditions. Some of them do lend themselves to the possibility of at-home first aid. I do want to make the point that there are many safe non-pharmaceutical substances like DMSO that lie in the tool box of the natural medicine physician that allow us to offer effective options and solutions for the treatment of many conditions. Therefore once again I remind you, if you have health concerns, it is very sensible to always seek the advice of a natural medicine physician early in the process of taking care of yourself.
CASE REPORT: AUTISTIC, HYPERACTIVE CHILD
A five-year-old boy returned for his 9 month follow up visit. His parents had consulted me last year because the boy was autistic and hyperactive. He did not interact well with other people, and had minimal language skills. Work up revealed the patient had a high sugar intake, and he was allergic to milk and eggs. He did not have any heavy metal toxicity issues. Because of the autistic features, I also recommended they keep him away from gluten containing grains. The parents applied my instructions diligently, and the improvement that was evident at his 3 month followup has been maintained. He is calm and quiet, more sociable, makes good eye contact, and has shown increasing language development. Besides dietary modification, I also put him on extra oils, DMG, and a good multivitamin with minerals. Proper diagnostic assessment and therapeutic recommendations are only as good as the patient or family’s motivation to comply. Making dietary changes in kids isn’t so easy. In this case their efforts were well rewarded, and they are thrilled with the results.