Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is commonly used topically to treat inflammation in horses. A byproduct of paper production, DMSO was originally created as an industrial solvent; it is now approved for veterinary use by the Food and Drug Administration. Banned from some horse sports, DMSO use in horses has not been well studied.
Equus recently compiled a list of little-known facts about the common prescription drug:
- DMSO is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID), but it works as an antioxidant, binding with free radicals that damage healthy cells. Trapping these free radicals slows the inflammation process. DMSO can be injected directly into a soft-tissue injury that is difficult to treat or that involves dense tissue. Additionally, veterinarians may administer DMSO orally or via IV to attempt to halt laminitis.
- The ability of DMSO to rapidly penetrate skin was discovered by accident when the chemical was spilled on people's hands and they received a garlic taste in their mouth almost immediately after.
- DMSO can carry substances through the skin, which can be helpful in treating skin infections or fungal eye infections.
- DMSO may be able to provide pain relief without being mixed with other compounds. It blocks or slows impulses along nerves, reducing pain when it is used.
- DMSO draws fluid from tissues, making it helpful in treating edema or preventing stocking up. It can draw fluid from the lungs of a horse with pulmonary edema or reduce swelling of the spinal cord and brain in horses affected by diseases like West Nile.
Read more at EQUUS.
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