Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is a relatively simple, naturally occurring organic compound that has been used as an industrial solvent for many years. It was discovered in the 19th century as a by-product of wood pulp processing of paper making (a by-product of the lumber industry). About the same time, Russian chemist Alexander Zaytsev synthesized it by oxidizing dimethyl sulfide, another kraft process by-product and it is still the basis for the manufacturing process used today. DMSO is an organic polar aprotic molecule with an amphipathic nature that is ideal for dissolving poorly soluble polar and nonpolar molecules that has a relatively high boiling point (189 °C (372 °F)).
DMSO is used for removing organic materials from equipment lines and manufacturing equipment. It is a laboratory and industrial solvent for many gasses, synthetic fibers, paint, hydrocarbons, salts, and natural products. Because it is aprotic, relatively inert, nontoxic, and stable at high temperatures, it is a frequently used solvent for chemical reactions.
DMSO is used as prescription medicine and dietary supplement. It is used topically as a pain reliever and speed the healing of wounds, burns, and muscle and skeletal injuries, and also used topically to treat painful (pain reliever) conditions such as headache, inflammation, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and severe facial pain called tic douloureux.