First, it is an antioxidant. DMSO is a potent scavenger of "free radicals." Free radicals, as you might know, are substances that gather at the site of an injury, causing pain and swelling, and DMSO seems to have a unique ability to destroy these substances. Second, DMSO reduces pain by inhibiting the pain messages in your nerves.
Blocks Pain Messages
DMSO helps block pain messages from moving from cell to cell, reducing the intensity and amount of pain that you feel. DMSO also appears to soften the connective tissue surrounding an injury or place of inflammation. This reduces pressure on the injury, relieving yet more pain symptoms.
DMSO is quickly absorbed, moving straight into your circulatory system. This speeds up the healing process, because when inflammation is decreased, you experience more blood flow to the injured area. Your blood can then transport more nutrients and antioxidants to the injury, and healing occurs at a faster rate.
Also known as "degenerative joint disease," osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It is characterized mostly by the deterioration of the cartilage that is so critical to maintaining healthy, pain-free joints. It can strike any joint in your body--most often showing up in the fingers, hips, knees, lower back and feet. Not surprisingly, as you grow older, these are the joints that receive the most daily pressure. It normally begins to hit over the age of 45, and it's been labeled an "epidemic" among the elderly because it's uncommon not to have it if you are over 60. It is also three times as common in women than in men.
Osteoarthritis can be very painful if the bones start to rub against one another in the absence of the cartilage cushion. Without strong cartilage, the surfaces of your bones become pitted and irregular. At the same time, your muscles, ligaments and tendons become weaker, which leads to pain, stiffness and even deformation.
First Things First
Before we begin a discussion about how DMSO could help with osteoarthritis, here are some lifestyle tips on reducing pain that you should use in tandem with any DMSO treatments.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise is universally recommended. Though you may not feel like it, it is very important to work out those problem joints. (Note: Always consult your doctor.)
Some activities, such as "isometric exercises," help build muscles and keep that joint-supporting structure stable. Aerobically, walking (if you can handle it) is good--as briskly as you are able. Try a stationary bike if walking is too painful.
If exercising on land hurts altogether, try water aerobics, where your body weighs 50% to 90% less, easing much of the stress on your joints.
Flexibility, relaxation and muscle strength can be achieved through yoga or tai chi. These will help increase motion in the joint, improve balance and take your mind off the pain.
Eating healthy is an important part of keeping your weight down, which is critical to joint health. About half of knee-osteoarthritis patients are overweight. Some joints have pressure on them three times your body weight when walking and up to 10 times your weight when jogging. Keep that in mind!
A healthy diet leans heavily on vegetables, fruits and whole grains in general for allowing you to better deal with osteoarthritis. There is no special arthritic diet, nor has it been definitely proven that any one food makes your pain better or worse.
The "Osteoarthritis Diet"
To help manage your symptoms, try to have more of these foods in your diet:
€ Eggs, garlic, onions, asparagus (contain sulfur)
€ Fiber: flaxseeds, bran (daily!)
€ Fresh pineapple (contains "bromelain")
€ Leafy fresh vegetables (daily!), fruit (non-acidic), fish, brown rice, soybeans
€ Rice, wheat and rye (contain "histidine," which removes metals from the body)
Alternately, try to eat less of these:
€ Fat, caffeine, dairy, red meat, citrus fruits, paprika, salt and sugars
€ "Nightshade: vegetables: peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes--they have "solanine" in them, and many arthritis patients are highly sensitive; solanine interferes with enzymes in muscles that provide agility and flexibility and can result in pain
What the Research Says
Now, how about DMSO and osteoarthritis? Can it help relieve symptoms? Let's take a look at the results of some clinical trials.
In one German clinical trial, researchers investigated the effects of DMSO treatment on patients who were suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. The research team noted that the most important symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are pain and impairment of movement. They devised a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving 112 patients.
The patients were divided into two groups. One group was administered DMSO gel over a period of three weeks. The second group received a placebo. The research team recorded results for pain, which included pain experienced while going about daily activities, rest pain and loss of mobility. The patients were also required to keep pain diaries.
The researchers found that in comparison with the placebo, DMSO proved to have a clinically relevant analgesic effect on the intensity of pain during everyday activities.