Superoxide Dismutase

Other Name(s):

Orgotein, SOD, Super Dioxide Dismutase, Superóxido Dismutasa, Superoxydase Dismutase, Superoxyde Dismutase.


Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme found in all living cells. An enzyme is a substance that speeds up certain chemical reactions in the body. The superoxide dismutase that is used as medicine is sometimes taken from cows.

Superoxide dismutase is taken by mouth for removing wrinkles, rebuilding tissue, and extending the length of life. However, there is no evidence that superoxide dismutase products that are taken by mouth are absorbed by the body.

As a shot, superoxide dismutase is used for treating pain and swelling (inflammation) caused by osteoarthritis, sports injuries, and rheumatoid arthritis; a kidney condition called interstitial cystitis; gout; poisoning caused by a weed-killer called paraquat; cancer; and lung problems in newborns.

Superoxide dismutase is also given as a shot for improving tolerance to radiation therapy, improving rejection rates in kidney transplantation, and minimizing heart damage caused by heart attacks.

A sterile solution containing superoxide dismutase is sometimes applied directly to the eyes for treating ulcers on the cornea.

How does it work?

Superoxide dismutase is an enzyme that helps break down potentially harmful oxygen molecules in cells, which might prevent damage to tissues. It is being researched to see if it can help conditions where oxygen molecules are believed to play a role in disease.


What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis See Slideshow

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...


  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lung problems in newborn infants.
  • A kidney condition (interstitial cystitis).

Likely Ineffective for...


  • Reducing heart damage after a heart attack.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Ulcers on the cornea of the eye. A series of case reports suggest that a specific eye solution of superoxide dismutase might help reduce ulcer size and improve healing when applied to the eye for at least 2 weeks.
  • Sports injuries.
  • Gout.
  • Cancer.
  • Helping people tolerate radiation therapy.
  • Preventing rejection of kidney transplants.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of superoxide dismutase for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Injectable (shot) forms of superoxide dismutase that have been used in research studies appear to be safe. Some superoxide dismutase products are obtained from animal sources, raising concern about contamination from sick or diseased animals. Though there are no reports of people getting sick after using superoxide dismutase products taken from animals, it's best to avoid products from animal sources until more is known.


The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of superoxide dismutase during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • Healthcare providers give superoxide dismutase as a shot for certain bladder infections (interstitial cystitis), osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and lung damage that sometimes develops in premature infants who have been given oxygen to help them survive.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


de Benito V, de Barrio M, de Lopez-Saez MP, et al. Anaphylactic shock caused by impurities in orgotein preparations. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr) 2001;29:272-5.. View abstract.

Flaherty JT, Pitt B, Gruber JW, et al. Recombinant human superoxide dismutase (h-SOD) fails to improve recovery of ventricular function in patients undergoing coronary angioplasty for acute myocardial infarction. Circulation 1994;89:1982-91. View abstract.

Gammer W, Broback LG. Clinical comparison of orgotein and methylprednisolone acetate in the treatment of osteoarthrosis of the knee joint. Scand J Rheumatol 1984;13:108-12. View abstract.

Goebel KM, Storck U, Neurath F. Intrasynovial orgotein therapy in rheumatoid arthritis. Lancet 1981;1:1015-7. View abstract.

Goebel KM, Storck U. Effect of intra-articular orgotein versus a corticosteroid on rheumatoid arthritis of the knees. Am J Med 1983;74:124-8. View abstract.

Kadrnka F. [Results of a multicenter orgotein study in radiation induced and interstitial cystitis]. Eur J Rheumatol Inflamm 1981;4:237-43. View abstract.

Land W, Schneeberger H, Schleibner S, et al. The beneficial effect of human recombinant superoxide dismutase on acute and chronic rejection events in recipients of cadaveric renal transplants. Transplantation 1994;57:211-7. View abstract.

Lewis CJ. Letter to reiterate certain public health and safety concerns to firms manufacturing or importing dietary supplements that contain specific bovine tissues. FDA. Available at:

McIlwain H, Silverfield JC, Cheatum DE, et al. Intra-articular orgotein in osteoarthritis of the knee: a placebo-controlled efficacy, safety, and dosage comparison. Am J Med 1989;87:295-300. View abstract.

Murohara Y, Yui Y, Hattori R, et al. Effects of superoxide dismutase on reperfusion arrhythmias and left ventricular function in patients undergoing thrombolysis for anterior wall acute myocardial infarction. Am J Cardiol 1991;67:765-7.

Nielsen OS, Overgaard J, Overgaard M, et al. Orgotein in radiation treatment of bladder cancer. A report on allergic reactions and lack of radioprotective effect. Acta Oncol 1987;26:101-4. View abstract.

Noor R, Mittal S, Iqbal J. Superoxide dismutase--applications and relevance to human diseases. Med Sci Monit 2002;8:RA210-5. View abstract.

Pollak R, Andrisevic JH, Maddux MS, et al. A randomized double-blind trial of the use of human recombinant superoxide dismutase in renal transplantation. Transplantation 1993;55:57-60. View abstract.

Rosenfeld W, Evans H, Concepcion L, et al. Prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia by administration of bovine superoxide dismutase in preterm infants with respiratory distress syndrome. J Pediatr 1984;105:781-5. View abstract.

Sanchiz F, Milla A, Artola N, et al. Prevention of radioinduced cystitis by orgotein: a randomized study. Anticancer Res, 1996;16(4A):2025-8. View abstract.

Shimmura S, Igarashi R, Taguchi H, et al. Lecithin-bound superoxide dismutase in the treatment of noninfectious corneal ulcers. Am J Ophthalmol 2003;135:613-9. View abstract.

Walravens M, Dequeker J. Comparison of gold and orgotein treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. Curr Ther Res Clin Exp 1976;20:62-9.

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