Medicine: Blackout on DMSO

Until 1963, dimethyl sulfoxide was just another liquid solvent used in industry. Then University of Oregon researchers reported that DMSO had varied medicinal properties—that, in fact, it was a wonder drug. Daubed on the skin, they said, it soothed not only the superficial pain of burns, but also the deep pain of crippling rheumatoid arthritis. It helped burns and wounds to heal faster; it eased itching—and cured athlete's foot.

Soon 1,000 U.S. physicians were testing DMSO on their patients. Some boldly dropped the colorless substance into patients' eyes, or instilled it into their bladders through tubes. Then the Food and Drug Administration...

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