as it relates to joint therapy
There is quite a lot to say on this subject, so let’s start at 30,000 feet. From here, we can consider a clinical perspective, dive briefly into some biochemistry, then finish with a little medical drama.
While not the most chronologically appropriate, ‘why DMSO’ is first among a list of Frequently Asked Questions. What I mean by chronologically is this. In order to discuss the benefits of DMSO, we are first assuming that the correct diagnosis has been made. This assumption, however, should not be taken for granted, because without a correct diagnosis, no joint therapy is effective. But more on this later…
For now, here is the low down on dimethylsulfoxide, more commonly referred to as DMSO.
DMSO is a hydroxyl free radical scavenger. Free radicals are a normal by-product of cellular metabolism, but during times of excessive stress (disease or trauma), too many are formed for the body to balance. When this happens, radicals run rampant, wreaking havoc on otherwise healthy tissue. This creates a cycle of injury at the cellular level, and in the joint, articular cartilage is especially at risk. The process is both damaging and painful.
There are very few free radical scavengers in this world (also known as anti-oxidants), but DMSO happens to be one of the best. And, since DMSO is a non steroidal anti-inflammatory (something like aspirin), it has all of the benefits but none of the side-effects of steroids.
Besides this, DMSO also helps prevent joint infections due to direct antimicrobial properties. It has been shown to actively kill certain bacteria in as low as a 10% solution. In this way, DMSO is an antibiotic alternative and thus, arguably, more responsible medicine. (If you don’t believe me, just google the antibiotic resistance crisis).
So now you have the #1 and #2 reasons why Trailmark prefers DMSO. It is a potent anti-inflammatory and helps prevent joint infections. But believe it or not, there is even more to this wonder drug. To summarize, here’s a list of things you may or may not have known about the benefits of DMSO in joint therapy.
- safe with no adverse reactions in over 150,000 joints (and that is just at one clinic)
- effective in many applications including synovitis, capsulitis and osteoarthritis
- extremely fast acting
- potentiates other commonly used joint medications (eg steroids)
- cost effective
I’ll close by trying to predict some opposition in order to head it off. Most DMSO critics cite a lack of double blinded studies, but there are very good reasons for this. First, if you have ever been around the stuff, then you know that the main side-effect is a permeating, garlic-like odor that emanates off of anything that has been treated or come into contact with it. For this reason, it is impossible to “blind” personnel to a DMSO treated group.
Besides this, DMSO has battled the FDA and large pharmaceutical companies in human medicine for years. This struggle has prevented most of the planned clinical trials due to the highly competitive nature of our drug industry.
And finally, some things are simply self-evident. For instance, how many double blinded studies have ever been conducted on parachutes? Now maybe you could argue the sense of jumping out of a perfectly healthy airplane, but with so much at stake, few question the effectiveness of a parachute. Instead, they are considered a well tested and vital piece of equipment.
In the same way, DMSO has over a 50 year history of effectiveness in the medical field. Few other drugs have ever stood a similar test of time.
So maybe the better question is, why not DMSO?
Adair HS, Goble DO, Vanhooser S, et al. Evaluation of use of dimethylsulfoxide for intra-articular lavage in clinically normal horses. Am J Vet Res 1991;52(2);333-6
Welch RD, DeBowes RM, Liepold HW. Evaluation of the effects of intra-articular injection of dimethylsulfoxide on normal equine articular tissues. Am J Vet Res 1989;50(7);1180-2
Welch RD, Watkins JP, DeBowes RM, et al. Effects of intra-articular administration of dimethylsulfoxide on chemically induced synovitis in immature horses. Am J Vet Res 1991;52(6);934-9
Pottz GE, Rampey JH, Benjamin F: The effect of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) on antibiotic sensitivity of a group of medically important microorganisms: preliminary report. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1967;141;261-272
McIlwraith CW, Frisbie DD, Kawcak CE. Current treatments for traumatic synovitis, capsulitis, and osteoarthritis. AAEP Proceedings 2001;47;180-182