Many Uses, Much Controversy"
by Maya Muir. Alternative & Complementary Therapies July/August 1996.
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Jack de la Torre, MD, PhD, a professor at University of New Mexico Medical School (Albuquerque), has pioneered the use of DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide) in treating head injury and stroke. DMSO's unique effects make it an ideal therapy for promoting recovery. According to de la Torre, DMSO lowers intracranial pressure faster and more effectively than any other drug. DMSO, a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, also dissolves blood clots and helps remove cellular debris that prevents nourishing blood from reaching tissue. Tissue deprived of oxygen and nutrients dies, which results in paralysis and congenitive problems. In addition, DMSO stabilizes blood pressure, improves respiration, and increases urine output. At this point the FDA has approved DMSO for use as a transplant organ preservative and as a treatment for interstitial cystitis. Recently, the agency has agreed to permit clinical trials that test its effect on closed head injury.
Throughout the world, DMSO has been used to reduce pain and inflammation in a variety of conditions including arthritis, scleroderma, burns, and sports injuries. In one study, Arthur Scherbel, MD (Cleveland Clinic Foundation) and colleagues treated 42 scleroderma patients with DMSO. In their evaluation for each patient, the researchers looked for histotoxic changes, healing of ischemic ulcers on fingertips, relief from pain and stiffness, and increase in strength. They determined that 26 of the patients (nearly 62%) showed good or excellent improvement, a far better result than any other therapy. While DMSO is not a cure for this condition, it does relieve symptoms; symptoms return when DMSO is discontinued. Symptomatic relief, however, would be greatly welcomed by people with this disabling illness.
DMSO's most common side-effect is the characteristic garlic-like
odor that it creates in users. Some who receive it intravenously may
develop a headache that is dose-related. Allergic reactions also
occur. Caution suggests testing a person's reaction to DMSO by
applying a small amount to the skin to see if uncomfortable itching
or redness occurs. Users must also be aware that DMSO will carry any
compound or material (toxic or benign) with which it comes in contact
through the skin and into the body. DMSO is a solvent and potentiates
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