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Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) for Osteoarthritis

Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) are two chemically related substances that have been studied for osteoarthritis. DMSO is used topically (applied to the skin). MSM is sold as a dietary supplement, either alone or in combination with other ingredients such as glucosamine.

Bottom Line

Only a small amount of research has been conducted on DMSO or MSM for osteoarthritis. No conclusions can be reached about whether either of these substances is helpful.

Safety

  • The safety of DMSO and MSM is uncertain because little research has been done on this topic. Side effects of DMSO include digestive upset, skin irritation, and a garlic-like taste, breath, and body odor. Side effects of MSM include allergic reactions, digestive upsets, and skin rashes.
  • If you’re using or considering DMSO or MSM for osteoarthritis, consult your health care provider.

For more information on osteoarthritis, visit the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Web site.

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NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.

Last Updated: September 2017