What is The Difference Between MSM and DMSO?


If you've been researching MSM, it's very likely that you've run into DMSO one time or the other. The question many people may have is "what is the difference between MSM and DMSO?" 

When I first learned about MSM, I thought MSM and DMSO were the same thing. Later I learned while they have similar properties, they are also different in many other ways.

In this article, I'm going to share with you the difference between MSM and DMSO. At the end of this article, you will understand the differences and the products or brands available on the market for each. 

So without further ago, let's get started.

How is MSM related to DMSO? 

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is chemically related to DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). MSM goes by many names, including dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, crystalline DMSO, or methyl sulfone.

MSM is a normal oxidation product of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organosulfur compound. In other words, DMSO is an antioxidant, by taking up oxygen it is converted into MSM. 

In practice, when DMSO enters the human body, about 15 percent of it is converted into MSM. This means the body attaches an oxygen atom to a portion of the DMSO molecule and they become DMSO2 or MSM.

Now, the small percentage of DMSO also converts to DMS (dimethyl sulfide), which is responsible for producing the odor, similar to garlic or onion. You do not have to worry about the garlic or onion odor with MSM. MSM does not contain DMS and is therefore odorless. 

According to this book, the following indicates that MSM possesses a number of the same pain-relieving qualities of DMSO.

  • An anti-inflammatory action.
  • An ability to soften scar tissue.
  • An ability to dilate blood vessels and enhance blood supply. This helps to deliver nutrients to the damaged sites to repair tissue damage in the body.
  • An ability to reduce muscle spasm.
  • The ability to make cell membrane more permeable. This helps to facilitate a greater effectiveness of the body's own natural painkillers. 

As you can see, Organic sulfur (MSM) and DMSO both work in a very similar manner and have similar benefits, except MSM does not produce the garlic-like breath and body odor so commonly seen with DMSO use.

Organic sulfur is commonly taken orally. DMSO is most often used topically. You simply dab it on the skin and alone or as a carrier for other drugs. It helps to carry beneficial compounds to your skin and body rapidly and effectively.

If you are looking for a long-term pain relief but don't want annoy odor by DMSO, MSM is the best solution. I personally use and would recommend this MSM brand.

What is MSM?

MSM also known as methylsulfonylmethane. Basically, it is an organic sulfur compound that naturally occurs in vegetables, fruits, grains, milk, and meat. Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body after calcium and phosphorus. It's an essential nutrient and is required for the functioning of a healthy body. MSM can also be produced in a lab to create dietary supplements in crystalpowderliquid, or capsule form.

MSM is a popular supplement for arthritis sufferers. MSM also treat a wide variety of conditions including: muscle pain, inflammation of the joints, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, osteoporosis; scleroderma, scar tissue stretch marks, acne, and it accelerates wound healing. In addition, MSM is good for oral and overall health.

While MSM is naturally present in many of the foods we consume, much of it has been lost during heating and processing of foods, making supplementation a great way to get enough sulfur to your body. 

If you've been looking to increase the level of sulfur in your body through supplementation, it's very likely that you've come across claims such as their MSM is 100% natural, lignin-based, pine knot, sawdust, wood-chip, pine tree, plant-based, naturally occurring, or vegetable-based.

Organic sulfur crystals or MSM methylsulfonylmethane

MSM is also known as Organic Sulfur

Be careful with these claims because they are not true. These claims are merely advertising hypes used to increase sales because they sound very green and eco-friendly. Unfortunately, those words have caused quite a bit of confusion regarding MSM and its “natural” form.

While MSM occurs naturally, it's too small for extraction for nutritional supplementation. So when you see these claims, just remember, you can not extract MSM from plants or other natural materials. Rather, a chemical reaction is required to make MSM.

The truth is the most “natural” MSM is to mimic the formation, function, and structure of the biological substance. And all commercially available MSM is acturally created through a chemical reaction of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and hydrogen peroxide. This creates a chemical reaction that forms an MSM that is identical to the molecule found in nature.

MSM is not a drug but an organic form of sulfur that's made up of:

  • 34% sulfur
  • 34% oxygen
  • 26% carbon
  • 6% hydrogen bonds

MSM is also called organic sulfur. This word "organic" is not to be confused with food items or herbal products marketed as organic. Organic sulfur is a carbon-containing molecule. The word "organic" in this sense simply means bound to a carbon. 

As with most other supplements, quality is a major issue when it comes to selecting an MSM supplement. Fortunately, with MSM it’s fairly easy to determine. There are two methods of purification of MSM:

  1. Distillation
  2. Crystallization

For MSM, distillation is the best method that will ensure the purity of organic sulfur. Crystallization is less costly, and a lot less energy-intensive. This method can also result in impurities such as heavy metals and solvents being used and left in the product.

What is DMSO?

DMSO stands for dimethyl sulfoxide and it's one of the world’s greatest solvents. Industry values it for removing paints and varnishes, and dissolving certain plastics such as rayon, polyvinyl chloride, polyurethane, methacrylate, and acrylic. It doesn’t affect cotton, wool, nylon, leather, or polyesters.

More important, DMSO benefits human body cells, tissues, and organs in unique ways. It penetrates through your skin into your muscle or connective tissue very easily and rapidly. DMSO is a colorless, odorless, slightly oily transparent substance inexpensively produced as a by-product of the paper industry. A small amount of DMSO is also naturally present in common foods such as milk, tomatoes, tea, coffee, & beer, among others.

DMSO has been represented as a “wonder drug” or a “miracle drug” for its long list of health benefits, including fighting inflammation, relieving pain, improving blood supply, scavenging free radicals, softening scar tissue, and effects that may benefit autoimmune conditions. 

DMSO can also benefit people suffering from stroke, head and spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s disease, and heart attack and angina. It's approved for use in veterinary medicine. While DMSO is widely used in most countries as a medical drug, in the USA it is only approved for the treatment of bladder inflammation (interstitial cystitis).

DMSO is easily absorbed by the skin because of its ability to easily penetrate the skin. It's sometimes used to increase the body's absorption of other medications or topical creams. In fact, there are over several hundreds of pharmaceutical products that contain DMSO. Because without it, they wouldn’t be nearly as effective.

DMSO dimethyl sulfoxide

DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide)

Since DMSO is easily absorbed by the skin, one big concern is when DMSO gets on the skin it will carry anything on the skin to the body.  DMSO will take good things into the body, so will it take the bad. This makes it especially important to wash your hands and the skin before using. You don't want to inadvertently carry any impurities or chemicals into your body that could possibly make you sick. 

If you're looking to use DMSO to decrease pain, speed the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries, and other ailments, it's important that you understand the difference between industrial and pharma grade of DMSO.

Industrial Grade 

  • It's suitable for use in common industrial formulations, such as solvent cleaning applications and paint stripping. Industrial grade DMSO may also contain a number of impurities that can easily be absorbed into the skin with potentially serious health effects.
  • Some people may be concerned whether or not DMSO smells. DMSO by itself is actually odorless. What makes DMSO smell and taste like onions or garlic is DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide). Industrial grades of DMSO will contain DMS and therefore give off an offensive odor.
  • You want to avoid using the industrial grade.

Pharmaceutical Grade  

  • This is the pure form of DMSO that's free contaminates. 
  • This is the form you want to use. It's a reactive healing agent that has demonstrated excellent health benefits.

MSM vs DMSO Comparison Chart



Naturally occurring in the human body?



Does it have an odor?


DMSO by itself is odorless.


What makes DMSO smell and taste like onion or garlic is DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide).


Industrial grades of DMSO will contain DMS and therefore give off an offensive odor. 

Pure Pharma Grade DMSO is distilled and purified to remove DMS and any other contaminants leaving it odorless. 

However, if you use DMSO internally, your body will metabolize DMSO into DMS, which is why, despite purity, some people will report the garlic and onion taste or smell, even when using a >99.9% purity DMSO.

What form does it come in?











How is it made?

MSM is created through a chemical reaction of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and hydrogen peroxide. 

This chemical reaction forms an MSM that is identical to the molecule found in nature.

DMSO is derived from
trees as a by-product of the production of paper.

What are the benefits?

  • Treats arthritis and joint pain
  • Improves digestive problems
  • Repairs skin problems
  • Lowers muscle pain and muscle spasms
  • Restores hair growth
  • Helps the body adapt to stress
  • Strengths the immune system
  • And much more!

  • Reduces pain and inflammation caused by arthritis
  • Treats bladder pain and inflammation
  • Slows the progression of cancer
  • Speeds the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries.
  • Treats bladder inflammation
  • And much more!

What are the side effects?

These side effects are detox symptoms which will get better once your get gets used to MSM.

  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

DMSO has not been found unsafe for humans. Any side effects are merely minor irritations. You might also experience the following:

  • Garlic-like breath 
  • Garlic-like body odor
  • Headaches
  • Itching and burning when applied to the skin

How can it be taken?

MSM can be taken by mouth and apply to the skin.

DMSO can be taken orally, topically, intravenously, intramuscularly and intervesically (injected into the bladder).

MSM (Organic sulfur) products 

As mentioned earlier, MSM products are available in several forms. I personally like the crystal form of MSM because it's more pure and contains more bioavailable sulfur for the body.

There are pros and cons of each form. I highly encourage you to check out this article for more information. 

Gold Standard Organic Sulfur crystals

Gold Standard Organic Sulfur Crystals

Kala Health MSMPure Coarse Powder Flakes

Kala Health MSMPure Fine Powder

Liquid MSM With Vitamin C

Liquid MSM



DMSO products

DMSO is available without a prescription. It's available in liquid, gel or cream form. It can be purchased in health food stores and on the Internet. Much of the DMSO sold on the black market is industrial grade and could cause serious short and long-term problems in its users.

Some liquid DMSO products are stored in the plastic bottles while others are in glass bottles. When shopping for DMSO, be sure to purchase the product from a reputable company and it's also best to buy DMSO that's stored in glass bottle.  

Some DMSO products on the market are already diluted while other are not. To avoid skin irritation, apply DMSO only in diluted form at 70% or less. You can also dilute a full strength DMSO in a separate glass bottle. To make it about 70%, mix 2 parts of 100% DMSO with 1 part of water. For a weaker solution, to make it 50%, mix equal parts of DMSO and water.

LOW ODOR DMSO Glass 8 oz Bottle 99.995% Pharma Grade Dimethyl Sulfoxide

Non-Diluted, Glass 8 oz Bottle, 99.995% Pharma Grade Dimethyl Sulfoxide

DMSO Cream With Aloe Vera - Lavender Scented, Made With 99.9% Pure Pharmaceutical grade DMSO

DMSO Cream With Aloe Vera, made With 99.9% Pure Pharmaceutical grade DMSO 

DMSO 70/30 Gel, Unfragranced

DMSO 70/30 Gel


DMSO is simply a colorless slightly oily fluid that is derived from the by-product of the paper making process. Its crystalline derivative, MSM shares almost the same properties as DMSO, except it does not produce the garlic-like breath and body odor with DMSO use. 

I hope you give DMSO a try. Don't let the smell stop you from giving this amazing substance a try. Although the odor could be a problem in social and work-related settings because some people may find it offensive. The odor can easily be reduced by adding a few drops of Peppermint Oil or other essential oil to your mixture. 

I hope after you read the article, you have a better understanding the difference between MSM and DMSO. You should also be able to choose the product that best suits your needs. If you have any questions, concerns, or thoughts. Don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

What form of MSM product have you used and how was your experience? Have you ever used DMSO and what was your experience? I would love to know your story. Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you for your time on my website.

Have a great day!


7 Comments on “What is The Difference Between MSM and DMSO?”

  1. I just tried DMSO for the first time recently.I had a really bad case of plantar fasciitis and it was very painful to walk. I used a cream that smells like roses and it helped right away.I also felt better after I applied it so I was curious about taking it internally. I bought a pharma grade liquid in a glass bottle.I took half a teaspoon in about a cup of distilled water.I felt better almost right away. More energy, clearer cognition and an underlying exhaustion that I had been struggling with for years went away. It almost felt like the DMSO was a missing link for my body, for all those millions of little chemical and electrical processes our bodies do everyday. I’ve just been taking half a teaspoon every other day for about 10 days.I feel better than I have in years. My skin is really soft and looks better. This is kind of gross but I had a little patch of dark brown or black crusty skin by my eye from sun damage.I don’t think it was cancerous because I saw my dermatologist recently and she checked my skin. It flaked off by itself last night! I hadn’t put anything directly on it either. My non-existent metabolism has kicked into gear also. I’m actually hungry now between meals. I’m am so happy I tried DMSO, and that it is available for us to use. I was worried about how long I’d be able to continue to work because of the exhaustion. I am older now, but I’m not worried now. I think I’m going try MMS as well now and probably take the DMSO a few times a week at that low dose. Thank you this crucial information!

  2. Hello Hong ,
    Why would some people need to take DMSO orally in its liquid form ? What’s the risk ?
    Thanks from the country of Jordan .

    1. Hello Kelly,

      DMSO is also taken orally for health conditions such as arthritis, inflammation, and management of amyloidosis. It can also be used for internal detoxification.

      It’s important to get the pharmaceutical grade DMSO. As mentioned in this article, it’s the pure form of DMSO that’s free contaminates. Industrial-grade DMSO may contain impurities which, when consumed orally, may be hazardous.

      Best regards,

  3. Excellent article! Very informative, well organized, and helpful in showing the distinctions between DMSO and MSM!
    Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.