DMSO is an industrial solvent produced during the process of making paper from trees. Researchers discovered in 1959 that it could protect tissues from the damaging effects of freezing. In addition, DMSO has several properties that may make it useful. DMSO has the ability to penetrate tissues, including intact skin, and carry along with it a variety of chemicals. It has an analgesic affect and inhibits production of certain compounds in the body called prostaglandins, thereby reducing inflammation in the tissues.
As reported by Len Leshin, M.D., F.A. A.P., the significance of DMSO in Down Syndrome is as a carrier agent, in that it supposedly carries amino acids or other nutrients directly into the brain to affect cerebral metabolism. Dr. Leshin reports that in1975, a group of doctors in Chile published a study of children with Down Syndrome who, after receiving a series of injections of DMSO, showed improvement in various physical attributes in the children less than three years old. The noted improvement included the appearance of a nasal bridge, thickening of hair, and eyes losing their epicanthal folds. The researchers further reported the children in this study had improved development quotients, which included advances in motor and social skills. The only notable complication reported included transient hard, non-painful nodules at the sites of injection, with two reported abscesses.
Another study by a group of researchers in Oregon, USA, published in 1975, reported the results of the effects of oral DMSO (without amino acids) in a group of children diagnosed with mental retardation. This study included an unspecified number of children with Down Syndrome as well. No significant side effects of the trial were reported, however, neither was there any significant improvement in the condition of the children as a result of taking DMSO orally. Again, this study was flawed as was the previously reported study and it was concluded the treatment of Down Syndrome with DMSO cannot be justified at this time.