Most of the herpes remedies we talk about here at Herpes Cure Breakthrough are natural remedies... herbal remedies and natural supplements. But there's one treatment that has been known about for years, yet has been mothballed by the FDA and the pharmaceutical companies because of its reputed almost miraculous super-powers. It's not exactly natural, because it's created through a chemical process. But it's not exactly a pharmaceutical drug, either... it's available over the counter for a number of perfectly legal and accepted non-medical uses.
We're talking about DMSO...
Table of Contents
What is DMSO?
DMSO, or dimethyl sulfoxide, is a super-cheap by-product of wood-chipping in the paper industry. It's a clear, odourless liquid with some extremely interesting properties that have led to its many uses, initially as an industrial solvent.
DMSO was first discovered in Russia in 1866. It was soon discovered to be one of the most versatile solvents that we know of. It's also a very effective anti-freeze, and non-toxic besides. This combination of properties has taken DMSO way past it's humble roots as a paint thinner, and given it a key role in preserving stem cells, embryos and organs for transplant at below-freezing temperatures. (It's still approved and used for this today.)
In 1962 another key property of DMSO was discovered: it's ability to penetrate skin and human tissue membranes without damage. Not only that, DMSO is also able to carry other substances with it, so that they can be absorbed directly.
What is DMSO used for?
Besides its industrial uses, DMSO has been found to help a range of medical conditions in both animals and humans.
One of the first medical uses of DMSO was in the treatment of burns. DMSO seems to be able to replace some of the water in human tissues, and this ability to keep burned areas dry proved to be hugely useful in helping prevent infection. Then researchers discovered something that caused huge public excitement and a massive explosion of interest in DMSO: DMSO not only helped prevent infection, but significantly relieved burn pain.
Since then, DMSO has been found to be able to help other types of pain too. It's been used a lot as a topical analgesic for cuts and sprains as well as burns, and has been reported to be effective for relieving chronic pain as well.
There's a long list of conditions that DMSO is said to help, including infections, injuries, and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, neuritis, sciatica, etc., also progressive degenerative conditions such as scleroderma. There are reports that DMSO may be useful in the treatment of cancer, stroke, and Alzheimer's disease. It's also showing promise in the treatment of head injuries – and the FDA have recently approved clinical trials for this, one of the very few that has been given the green light for further study.
Although DMSO is used extensively for veterinary treatment, it is not approved by the FDA for any use in humans except for one: interstitial cystitis, which is an inflammatory bladder condition that has no other recognised effective treatment.
The DMSO controversy
In spite of medical and popular enthusiasm, the FDA has to date rejected all but one of the new drug applications submitted by pharmaceutical companies. Between 1964 and 1983, over 1500 medical studies had been submitted, with results from 120,000+ patients with a range of medical conditions.
The FDA took the stance that DMSO was not safe, based on two pieces of information:
- in 1965 a woman in Ireland died of an allergic reaction, after taking a number of drugs including DMSO. Although the cause of death was never established, DMSO was blamed.
- also in 1965, a toxicology study found cataract-like changes in the lens of the eyes of experimental animals administered DMSO.
The FDA did relent somewhat and approved clinical trials in 1966 for serious conditions such as scleroderma, herpes zoster (shingles) and severe rheumatoid arthritis, and in 1968 they further relaxed their stance and allowed short term trials for some less serious conditions such as sprains, tendonitis and bursitis. By this time, toxicology studies of DMSO use in humans showed no evidence of any negative effects on the eye – though the myths persist.
A further sticking point for the FDA has been the inadequate design of the clinical trials. One of the problems has been that, because DMSO gives a distinctive odour to the patient's breath, it's not possible to disguise which patients are being given the DMSO and which are being given a placebo.
There is also the ongoing issue that pharmaceutical companies have with all natural treatments – that they are going to incur huge costs to get it approved, but won't be able to patent it and recoup their money.
At this point, the FDA has approved DMSO only for treatment of interstitial cystitis (in 1978) – and in 1970 for veterinary use, to treat musculo-skeletal disorders in dogs and horses.
It may be that the sheer variety of the conditions that DMSO is reputed to help might make the FDA stalwarts sceptical.
But once you start to take a look at how DMSO works, you can see how it might truly be able to help all those different medical conditions.
How DMSO works
- its power as a solvent – being able to bind to a huge range of chemicals and biochemicals
- the capacity to penetrate biological tissue without damage,
- its anti-inflammatory properties.
We've talked a bit about the first two, but so far not about the anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are central to DMSO's reputation as a wonder drug, so let's go there right now.
DMSO relieves inflammation in a number of different ways.
- it's a super antioxidant. Combined with its ability to penetrate the skin, this means it's able to get to the site of the inflammation and mop up the free radicals floating around causing problems.
- it's able to stabilise cell membranes and stop the leakage of fluids.
To understand why this is so helpful, I have to explain a bit about inflammation. When something irritates a tissue – it could be anything at all, a bit of pollen in your nose, or a bee sting, or an injury to your wrist – then a chemical called histamine is released. Histamine causes blood vessels to dilate, and fluid escapes into the nearby tissues, causing swelling. This is a helpful response to injury or infection – up to a point. But often the inflammation itself becomes the problem, and that's when an anti-inflammatory like DMSO can help.
Pain is almost always connected with some sort of inflammation, so this may be part of the mechanism by which DMSO relieves pain. In addition, studies suggest that DMSO may have a direct blocking effect on the peripheral nerve fibres that carry pain signals... though it's not entirely clear how it does this.
How to use DMSO
DMSO can be applied topically, taken orally, or infused intravenously (but please don't try these latter two at home!)
I'm only going to talk here about using DMSO topically. And even for this, in theory you should consult your medical practitioner first.
However, it appears to still be the case that any registered medical practitioner who uses or prescribes or recommends DMSO for a patient, while not breaking the law, is at risk of losing their licence. There do appear to be some brave medical practitioners who carry out IV treatment with DMSO – this tends to be for patients with severe conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, and in clinics dedicated to this purpose, and able to withstand the displeasure of the authorities.
The point here to take away is that DMSO is being used in very large doses without causing any problems.
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I'm going to stress here that I'm not giving medical advice, or indeed any sort of advice, except to explain the cautions as I understand them, for using DMSO topically.
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The main caution with using DMSO is that at full strength, it can burn (irritate). And in fact the most effective strength to penetrate the skin is reported to be 70-90%. For some reason, over 90% strength DMSO is less effective.
As a topical analgesic, DMSO is usually used in a 70% solution. That's strong enough to work.
It's recommended to test out a small patch on your elbow first, and at about 50% dilution, to check for any allergy or reaction. If you are planning to apply it to broken skin or mucous membrane (eg mouth or genital area) you might want to keep to the 50% dilution until you know how your own body handles the DMSO – some people are more sensitive than others. And it will probably sting a bit too, especially if you are applying it to a lesion or wound.
The purest DMSO you can get - 99.9% - may be diluted with either distilled water, or with aloe vera. Aloe vera is used to counter the drying and irritating effects of DMSO.
DMSO can also be used with other substances, either mixed or applied on top. For example, DMSO can be mixed with arnica tincture or gel for sore joints or muscles, or sports' injuries. Keep in mind that DMSO will help transport other agents into your body, so be careful what you mix it with! And make sure you thoroughly clean your hands and the area before applying DMSO, so you don't unwittingly zap yourself with some toxic substance.
The idea is to apply the DMSO either with your fingers, or a cotton ball, or a cotton bud (depending on how big an area you want to treat) and let it dry (for about 20 minutes). Be careful If you are going to cover the area with clothing – remember that DMSO is a solvent, and can interact with synthetic fabrics. (Cotton and linen should be okay.)
Because DMSO gets carried into the tissues, you don't have to worry too much about precise application. For example, in one study of scleroderma patients, they were asked to dip one hand into a solution of DMSO, and then later the two hands were compared. In most cases both hands showed some improvement, because the DMSO gets carried through the bloodstream to any part of the body that might need it. Likewise with arthritis, applying DMSO to one part of the body tends to have a beneficial effect everywhere – and sometimes on unexpected complaints that were not being targeted.
The best thing is, if possible, apply the DMSO to an area wider than the place you want to target. For example, with an injured knee, apply DMSO down to the calf area and up to the lower thigh as well.
Depending on the condition you are targeting, you may want to make several applications per day. For acute pain, eg a burn or sprain, you can apply DMSO every couple of hours, for 3 or 4 applications. For chronic pain and other chronic conditions, the usual procedure is to apply once daily, but you will need to continue for 4-6 weeks before noticing any result.
How to use DMSO for herpes
DMSO can be helpful in a number of different ways for herpes.
Healing and pain relief
DMSO is helpful for wound healing and pain relief, and some people find that DMSO, used as described above, helps their herpes lesions in this way.
DMSO on its own has been used for shingles (Herpes zoster) with good results, particularly in treating the painful lesions. Although Herpes zoster is not the same disease as Herpes simplex (it's often much more painful, in fact), they share some common elements – in particular, the way that the virus lurks in the spinal nerves and is so difficult to eradicate.
Preventing replication of the herpes virus
In laboratory studies, it's been found that DMSO is able to penetrate the protein coating of the herpes virus, and interfere with its replication – in clinical terms, blocking the outbreak.
To use DMSO in this way for herpes, apply your chosen form and strength of DMSO several times per day for 3 days at the first sign of an outbreak, and then on a regular monthly basis thereafter.
As a carrier for other treating substances
DMSO has been used with a number of other treating agents, in its capacity as a carrier. One combination that is reported to work is a mixture of DMSO and an anti-viral drug (idoxuridine).
Another promising report is the use of Vitamin C crystals dissolved in DMSO, which has been used effectively for both herpes simplex and herpes zoster.
(See DMSO: Nature's Healer - by Dr Moreton Walker, p215)
To get the complete herpes protocol, which includes a number of cutting edge herpes treatments combined for maximum effectiveness, click here.
Should I be worried about DMSO side-effects?
The most worrisome side-effect of DMSO is reported to be “garlic breath”. DMSO is broken down in the body to dimethyl sulphide – which is perfectly harmless, and excreted within 24 hours, but can be unpleasant to be around.
Some patients given very high doses of DMSO intravenously have experienced headaches. However, topical application simply won't subject you to anywhere near this dose of DMSO.
DMSO can cause irritation: when applied to the skin, there can be skin irritation, and if taken orally, there can be some digestive irritation such as mild nausea and/or diarrhoea. This is more likely at higher doses, and less likely for lower doses. It's always a good strategy to start cautiously and at a lower concentration, and test a small area first.
The biggest medical caution is for those taking blood thinners such as warfarin or even aspirin, and even more so for hemophiliacs (who lack blood coagulant). In this case you really do need to talk to your doctor before trying DMSO treatments, since DMSO can potentiate the anti-coagulant effect (which could be dangerous).
Note: for most people, the anti-coagulant properties of DMSO will be generally beneficial, helping prevent coronary thrombosis, strokes, etc.
Carrier for chemicals
There are some scare warnings online about DMSO carrying all sorts of toxic stuff like bacteria and toxic chemicals into your body. So here's the thing: DMSO is certainly a solvent and a carrier, so make sure your skin is clean before you apply DMSO. And don't go handling cyanide or rat poison around the same time. But DMSO can't carry anything across your skin that would not be absorbed anyway – it just does it a lot faster. It won't – it can't – get bacteria or viruses through your skin. What's more, bacteria can't survive in the DMSO solution at the levels we are talking about.
DMSO's capacity as a carrier depends on the size, shape and electrochemistry of the target molecule. It's been found to be more effective at transporting some molecules than others, eg morphine sulphate, penicillin, steroids and cortisone are able to be transported easily, whereas insulin is not.
So proceed cautiously and sensibly, and don't panic!
What is the best form of DMSO to buy?
DMSO can be purchased as a cream, a gel, or a liquid. DMSO is not illegal to buy or sell, or to use.
It's freely available for industrial or veterinary use, and it's easy to find good quality pharmaceutical grade DMSO to buy online.
The gel and the creams are easier to apply topically than the liquid form, but it's not always easy to tell just what's in the jar, or how much DMSO is in it. For example, I have a jar that is labelled “DMSO Aloe Vera Gel”, and underneath it says, “Pharmaceutical grade 99.9% high purity.” Now, I can tell you for sure that this is not 99.9% DMSO, because there is more than 0.1% aloe vera in it (I would think) and other things besides, to make it gel.
If you want to be cautious in the beginning (like me!) you could start with a gel. But you can also just buy the purest DMSO liquid (99.9% pure) and then dilute it with distilled water or with aloe vera juice to the strength you want. Then you will know exactly what you are using.
Where to buy DMSO?
DMSO is available in most countries in health food stores and veterinary suppliers. But it's probably cheaper and easier to find it and buy it online.
Up until recently, I would have recommended Jacob Labs - Dr Jacob's own DMSO. But Dr Jacobs has now passed away, and Jacob Labs is no longer continuing this business.
If you live in the United States, you can find many choices of brands of DMSO on Amazon.com. For example, this one has excellent reviews:
-the recommended 70:30 dilution to use on your skin.
This one is unscented. You can buy a scented version, but I wouldn't recommend it - most fragrances are chemicals that you don't want in your body!
References and recommended reading
Photo credit - Injured Hand: Baitong333 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Photo credit - Emotiguy: farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net