DMSO versus MSM, exploring topical applications.

What is DMSO?

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO, also referred to as Dimethylis Sulfoxidum, Dimethyl Sulphoxide) is a chemical byproduct of papermaking, a derivative of a substance found in wood. It is the organic form of sulfur, prepared commercially from lignin.

Through the years, DMSO has been put to use as an industrial solvent and later on, as an anti-inflammatory agent. It can be also be found in antifreeze and paints.

As a prescription medication and, in other times, a dietary supplement, DMSO can be taken via the mouth (orally), injected into the veins (intravenously) but primarily used topically that is, applied to the skin. It is easily absorbed by the skin and is sometimes used to enhance the absorption of other medications.

DMSO is used as a pain reliever for osteoarthritis and has been suggested as a treatment option for several medical conditions such as painful bladder syndrome, interstitial cystitis, shingles, headaches, eye problems, scleroderma, and cancer pain among others.

What is MSM?

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM, also referred to as Methyl Sulfonyl Methane Dimethylsulfone or Crystalline DMSO), is a naturally occurring chemical substance found in green plants, animals and humans. It can, however, be synthetically produced in the laboratory and combined with other supplements such as glucosamine.

It is a white, odorless, crystalline, water-soluble powder which is a product of the irreversible oxidation of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO).

The interest in and use of MSM as a pain reliever has experienced a surge ever since it was brought into the limelight by the 1999 publication The Miracle of MSM. As a follow-up, it has since been said to be a good treatment option for osteoarthritis, pain, swelling, inflammatory conditions (bursitis, tendinitis, etc.), allergies, asthma, and many other medical conditions.

While minute amounts can be found in protein-rich foods (eggs, meat, fish, legumes), fruits, milk, tea, coffee, cereal, and some vegetables, they are used as medications either orally (through the mouth) or topically (via the skin).

How are they similar?

DMSO and MSM are both nutritional supplements of sulfur and have both been used for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other inflammatory disorders. Both have similar pharmacological properties.

They are both had excellent positive results, especially after topical use. They are primarily used as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory agents applied to the skin, where they are reported to cause a significant reduction in pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness and increase in range of motion and grip strength.