DMSO Background Literature
University of Oregon Health Science Center Eugene, OR
The doctor who pioneered the use of DMSO sits in his humble office while the phone rings repeatedly. People call from all over the world wanting information about this miracle drug. Meanwhile, Dr. Jacob ponders his own miracle, an intelligent daughter astounding teachers at her select high school. With unassuming humility, Dr. Jacob marvels at her accomplishments, unable to take responsibility for it or make any connections to his own remarkable history with DMSO.
Dr. Stanley Jacob, surgeon and researcher at Oregon Health Science University, believes in the power of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). Any why shouldn't he? He founded the use of DMSO for a wide range of uses, including the treatment of interstitial cystitis (IC). Dr. Jacob has also been swallowing a teaspoon of DMSO every day for the past 32 years, and hasn't had a cold or flu during that time.
With years of research, numerous presentations and unflagging participation in FDA approval of DMSO behind him, Dr. Jacob could be thinking of retiring. He's not. "I want to be the George Burns of medicine." Dr. Jacob said. He still accepts new patients and particularly likes those no one else has been able to help. "The easy patients anyone can treat. It gives me a feeling of joy to take someone resistant to treatments and see the patient improve," he said.
His technique for using DMSO has evolved over the years. It began when he became interested in using the substance to preserve animal tissue in freezing temperatures for transplantation. He learned the drug had many healing properties and explored ways to use it. In 1962, Dr. Jacob treated his first IC patient. He teamed up with the patient's urologist to use DMSO intravesically, instilling a mixture, referred to as a "cocktail," of heparin, cortisone, bicarbonate and a 15 percent concentration of DMSO into the bladder.
After finding the cocktail worked, he began increasing the dosage to 50 percent DMSO concentration. Dr. Jacob introduced his mixture to other urologists, who found DMSO to be the first thing that worked to improve bladder capacity for IC patients.In 1973 he monitored studies of 100 IC patients, a key to 1978 approval of the drug by the FDA. Dr. Jacob noted that the FDA had an open attitude at the time, but was a stickler on the package insert. Dr. Jacob, who wrote the DMSO insert, said it does not accurately indicate how DMSO should be used but rather reflects the struggle between scientists and the FDA.
Contrary to the insert, Dr. Jacob suggests trying DMSO for one year before giving up on it.
Many doctors still use the cocktail Dr. Jacob used the 70s, but Dr. Jacob developed a new approach that he said increased his patient improvement rate from 70 to 90 percent. Before inserting the DMSO intravesically, he uses DMSO as an intravenous drug.
"Almost everyone knows IC is a systemic disorder," Dr. Jacob said. By injecting the DMSO directly into the bloodstream, DMSO can reach all of the patient's organs. He uses strictly DMSO for his patients for the bladder instillations. He starts out with 25 percent concentrations of DMSO and builds up to 50 percent. Dr. Jacob, recognizing that pain is not always confined to the bladder in IC patients, uses DMSO as a topical agent for pain the perineal area.
Dr. Jacob does not put his patients on a rigid schedule. He administers DMSO as the patient requires it. To promote this approach, patients are taught how to do instillations themselves. They are instructed to hold the substance in their bladder for as long as the patient is comfortable, usually no more than 15 to 20 minutes. The length of time improves the benefit but is not worth the discomfort. For inserting the catheter, Dr. Jacob suggests using lidocaine or K-Y Jelly.
How does DMSO work? Dr. Jacob describes it as "the most potent free radical scavenger known to man." He said, "Some molecules produce an unequal number of electrons. The instability of the number causes them to destroy cells. DMSO hooks on to those molecules and then leaves the body holding onto them." In simpler terms, installed DMSO takes the bad guys out of the bladder when a patient excretes urine.
How safe is DMSO? DMSO is a natural substance present in water. DMSO is used to treat scar tissue and has antibacterial properties. Although women are advised not to use it during pregnancy--and Dr. Jacob agrees that pregnant women should avoid any substance--DMSO is used to preserve frozen human embryos. No organ system is damaged by it, Jacob said. DMSO can interfere with liver function tests and give a false reading. That problem is remedied by simply waiting a week after treatment to take the test.
Long-term use has been documented as safe. Of patients that respond to DMSO, one out of three patients goes into a long-term remission after seven years. The rest continue to use DMSO indefinitely.
In reference to his years of exposure to the drug over the past 32 years, "I can say with certainty that I have no problems, health wise. I can't say it is because of DMSO, but I can say I haven't been hurt by it," Dr. Jacob said. Dr. Jacob considers DMSO a therapeutic substance rather than a conventional medication. Since DMSO penetrates the skin, it can act as a carrier for other pharmacological substances. The current limits on DMSO use disappoint Dr. Jacob, who believes that US medical treatment has just scratched the surface of DMSO's possibilities.
An example of those limits involves a derivative of DMSO, called DMS02. Dr. Jacob said this "interesting substance" gets away from the nuisance side effects (odor and bladder irritation) of DMSO. DMS02 is better tolerated by patients. Unfortunately, DMS02 does not have FDA approval, with no chance of getting it until well-documented studies can be done. Dr. Jacob estimates such studies would require about a million dollars.
Dr. Jacob believes DMS02 could change the lives of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who suffer from IC. Jacob worked with chemist Bob Herschler to develop DMS02. When FDA approval looked bleak, Herschler began selling the substance in a crystalline form as a food. Jacob said that DMS02 can be valuable by mouth for many diseases, but that IC patients do much better to take it into the bladder.
Dr. Jacob is currently serving as a consultant for a company that is studying the use of DMSO for catastrophic problems such as head injuries and AIDS. He has urged them to study the substance for IC, but the company is undercapitalized. He looks hopefully to the ICA as a source of funding for DMS02 studies.
"I really believe there is nothing out there now and or to be introduced over the next 25 years that compares to DMSO and its metabolite DMS02," Dr. Jacob said.
Kengla, Shirley. "An Interview With Dr. Stanley Jacob: Discussing DMSO." The Restroom Register, Winter, 1994.
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