MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane: is also called dimethyl sulfone, DMS02, or methyl sulfone. It is a compound found in many grains, vegetables, and fruits, as well as diary products, and meat. As a supplement, it is made primarily from edible, biologically active, organic sulfur. The body uses it to make the amino acids methionine and cysteine (22). The supplement MSM is a water soluble, odorless, slightly bitter tasting, white coloured supplement. It contains 34% elemental sulfur (22).
MSM can help treat inflammation and immune problems. It can restore health to skin, muscle, and other bodily tissues. It is the fourth most abundant mineral within the human body (1). Sulfur is involved in an abundance of functions, many of which are critical.
Sulfur is very important to the body. It helps form and hold strands of tissue together, it is essential to the activity of many enzymes necessary for health and well being, and it may regulate the shape of diverse bio-molecules. Bio-molecules are molecules or ions that are essential for many biological processes (cell division, development, etc.). Bio-molecules can be large (carbohydrates, proteins, lipids/fats or nucleic acids) or small (primary and secondary metabolites). So, sulfur is very necessary for health and well-being.
Ideally, we would get sulfur from fresh meat and fish, as well as plant based foods. But, diets are becoming deficient in sulfur due to the modern, western, diet as well as modern, large-scale, farming techniques. And, to make things worse, cooking or heating food, as well as processing it, eliminates the sulfur in food (18).
So, MSM may be a good addition to the diet. MSM is fairly inexpensive, holds few risks, and does not have a sulfuric odder. Oral supplements of MSM easily cross the blood brain barrier (BBB) and becomes evenly distributed throughout the brain (12). If applied topically to the skin, MSM can remain in the body for up to three weeks, and if taken as a supplement, for one week (18). It is recommended that animals, of which we are one, get between 0.5 and 1.o milligram/kg of body weight per day (18).
MSM is used as a beauty and health aid, as well as to treat several conditions. This is a short list of some of conditions MSM assists in treating: muscle recovery, (including cramps or other problems), tendinitis, bursitis, and muscle related scar tissue build up (11); also hemorrhoids, osteoarthritis (11), hair, nail, and skin health (sun burn, or healing in general), stretch marks, gum disease, and general dental problems; joint related autoimmune disorders including: osteoporosis, Inflammation (arthritis, both rheumatoid and osteo); health problems including obesity, Gastro-intestinal problems ( indigestion, upset stomach, constipation, ulcers, and leaky gut syndrome), yeast infections, pre-menstrual syndrome (headaches, cramps, indigestion and water retention), cancer, and bronchial problems like allergies and asthma (12); also eye problems, atherosclerotic issues like thickened or hardened arteries; MSM improves circulation, lowers blood pressure, and increases energy; it helps remove free radicals from the body, so it decreases oxidative stress, which causes inflammation and health and psychological (depression) problems.
Regarding safety, MSM is considered to be safe and well-tolerated at doses under 4845.6 mg/day (12).
MSM helps the immune system to work better and helps cells work normally. Cells use sulfur in the process leading to the release of extra fluids and byproducts, that otherwise build up and lead to tenderness and swelling (2).
MSM protects against cancer: studies have shown MSM to be helpful in treating the following cancers: breast, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, bladder, and skin. MSM is cytotoxic, or toxic, to cancer cells. MSM has been studied as a successful intervention both on its own. or combined with other compounds, it has been shown in research studies to lessen tumor development and to have anti-cancerous properties (12;18). In animal studies, when cancer-cells were transplanted into an animal treated with MSM, tumor growth, including breast cancer, is suppressed (12;18), this is also true of cancer of the lymph nodes or lymphomas (18).
MSM helps cells that are potentially cancerous return to a state closer to that of a non-cancerous cell. It lowers the likelihood of cancer cells metastasizing, (moving to other, healthy, cells/areas), and it makes cancer cells age (12). In animal studies MSM protected against the harmful effects associated with X-ray exposure (18).
MSM disrupts cancer in the following three ways: firstly it prevents cell viability by arresting (stopping) the cell from dividing and reproducing itself twice, in a process called the cell cycle. Secondly, by killing cells, either through killing all of the cells, called necrosis, or thirdly, by assisting in the normal die off of cells, called apoptosis (12).
MSM for skin appearance and problems (allergies, rosacea, and wounds): MSM can improve the appearance of skin by lessening redness, improving skin tone overal.l and lessening skin’s sensitivity (1; 12). MSM is needed to build keratin (12) and collagen. MSM mixed with EDTA (ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid) in a lotion was shown to significantly improve edema (swelling due to injury or inflammation) and wound related pitting after only two weeks of use (12). It is non-irritating to sensitive skin (12). Skin’s condition and appearance are significantly improved after two or more weeks of MSM treatment (both by users and experts). MSM mixed with pyruvic acid, made from a type of sugar, and used once a week for two weeks improves elasticity, wrinkling, and age or sun damage related skin dis-coloration. This condition is called melisma, which is a common skin condition denoted by the the appearance of brown to grayish brown patches (melisma). Rosacea can be helped with MSM mixed with silymarin (12).
The sulfur in MSM is needed to make keratin and collagen within the body. These substances help keep skin elastic and healthy. These nutrients This is why it is thought that MSM helps to keep skin looking young by lessening scars, dark spots/sun damage, and preventing wrinkles (1). MSM is even more powerful in rebuilding new and healthy skin when mixed with the following: vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants (1). It is also a natural treatment for eczema (24).
MSM may help bones: in animal studies, supplements corrected epiphysitis, called Sever’s disease in humans. This disease involves an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous leading to pain and inflammation as the bone develops. It is most often seen in children aged 8 to 14 (19).
Regarding skin problems: when MSM is mixed with silymarin it can reduce inflammation that otherwise would increases the time it takes for wounds to heal, causes rosacea (especially subtype 1 called erythemato-telangiectatic phase), allergic reactions, and general discoloration of skin (5; (12).
MSM and Hair: as it is involvement in the production of collagen and keratin, needed for the body to make new hair, skin cells, and nails, it helps stop or revers hair loss (6).
Muscles (Pain and spasms): MSM can improve both post work out, and surgical, recovery. It can lesson cramping, sourness, and general discomfort. The body stores the sulfur found in MSM in joints and tissues. Sulfur helps maintain and repair the tissue cells in joints and muscles, which are often fibrous and rigid, and which are broken down when muscles are exerted. Similar to its effect on joints, MSM helps bring back permeability and flexibility to the walls of cells that make up muscle tissue (1; 12; 18). This allows the nutrients that are necessary for tissue health to pass into the cell with greater ease. These nutrients help remove lactic acid, responsible for muscle stiffness or burning. These nutrients also enable repairs to the cells overall. So, if you take MSM before exercise, it is even more beneficial to the exercise process.
MSM not only helps treat muscle problems (aches, pain, and spasms), but it can prevent them. This is as MSM acts like a natural pain reliever or analgesic. It can improve mobility and range of motion, as well as reduce the swelling and throbbing associated with over use of muscles (from surgery, injury and exercise). MSM works even better when mixed with other anti-inflammatories.
MSM for joints and osteoarthritis: MSM is considered to be a natural anti-inflammatory. It a micro-nutrient that can penetrate cell walls with ease. Inflammation, pain. and other health problems. may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13). MSM reduces cytokine expression. It also helps the body to make collagen. This is why it plays a role in makeing new tissue (joint and muscle). It increases joint flexibility (including range of motion), and diminishes inflammation, swelling, stiffness, and pain (2;12;53). MSM protects cartilage by suppressing the effects of cytokines that are known to destroy cartilage, and by helping to normalize cartilage cells that are operating in an unhealthy manner (12). MSM, when mixed with the following, is even more powerful: Vitamin D., guava leaf extract, boswellic acid, arginine, hydrolyzed type I collagen, bromelain, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate (12;53).
MSM was reported to improve life quality by those participating in a study on arthritis (after taking 500 ml 3 times per day, in combination with glucosamine, for 12 weeks).
MSM for gout: inflammation is involved in gout, so getting inflammation down, which MSM (3 000 mg 2 times per day) has been shown clinically to do, is a good treatment (14;15). Sulfur is necessary to keep joints and connective tissue healthy, so MSM is a way to assist the body in making/repairing collagen and other proteins needed for joints to function (14).
MSM for digestion/gut health: MSM can help with leaky gut syndrome, and general digestion. Leaky gut is described as food particles leaching out of the gut and into the bloodstream, where they cause inflammation. MSM (and its sulfur) helps build up the gut’s lining and stop particles from escaping. MSM also lessens inflammation, which is associated with food allergies (3). Inflammation, pain, and other health problems, may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13). MSM reduces cytokine expression in colitis sufferers. regarding food poisoning, MSM can inhibit Salmonella typhimurium, and Escherichia (e-coli), in animal studies (18). So it can help treat food related issues. MSM in human trials has also shown to inhibit the growth of parasites (18).
MSM for bowels: regarding constipation, MSM helps to normalize bowel function (24).
MSM for urinary tract problems: MSM is a treatment for interstitial cystisis, of which most sufferers (up to 90 percent) are female aged 40 to 60. This condition involves feelings of pressure or pain in the bladder (urethral) syndrome (24). MSM takes longer to work, up to several months, but in 80% of cases improvement is reported. One study reported that MSM helps four out of six people suffering from the pain and pressure felt in the bladder and pelvic floor, symptoms of interstitial cystitis (12).
The condition involves lower urinary tract symptoms (burning, pain, frequency, urgency) lasting for six or more weeks, but without a clear cause or obvious infection. The symptoms can be constant or intermittent, and varies from mild to severe, depending on the person. Women with this problem can have pain with sexual intercourse (and painful vulva or vulvodynia), and it can be co-morbid with fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other pain problems, including chronic fatigue (25;26).
Interstitial cyctisis or IC which may be the result of illness/infection related damage to the bladder’s inner lining (glycosaminoglycan, or GAG). It may also be due to an overgrowth of yeast (26).
Oral/dental problems: taken by mouth, or used as a mouth wash, MSM can relieve gingivitis related inflammation (24).
MSM for hemorrhoids: Hemorrhoids can be incredibly painful and embarrassing. This condition is described as blood vessels in the rectum swelling to the point where going to the bathroom is difficult, and results in bleeding and pain. A preparation of MSM and tea tree oil decreases swelling and pain associated with hemorrhoids (4).
MSM for body temperature: in animal studies taking this supplement has shown to lower body temperature within a week (18).
MSM for stress management: MSM has been shown to improve energy levels and mood. It supports general immune functioning and it can lessen fatigue in the face of exertion and lower feelings of stress, even when injured. If possible, it should be taken before a stressful even is addressed (8;9).
MSM for allergies: taking 2.6 g a day for 30 days is proven to help relieve both upper and lower respiratory symptoms (12). Regarding inflammation in lung tissue, pain and other problems may be the result of proteins released by cells, called cytokines (13). MSM reduces cytokine expression.
The liver may benefit from MSM, as it reduces inflammation in cases of injury to this organ (12).
Oxidative stress is reduced by MSM. Oxidative stress is described as disrupted performance of cells due to the presence of too many oxygen molecules in the cells.
MSM for obesity, type two diabetes, and metabolic disorders: in animal studies MSM supplements helped markedly reduce the levels of blood glucose, or sugar, levels in animals that had been made obese through diet. In these same animals, MSM also significantly reduced overall fat in the blood, called triglycerides, as well as cholesterol. In animals bred to have genetic obesity linked metabolic disorders, those with marked impairment of glucose or blood sugar and lipid, or fat, metabolic profiles were helped significantly by MSM. The supplement ameliorated the problems. MSM helped to reverse damage done to an area of the bone, called femur micro-architecture, in animals done by over-nutrition. MSM may help with high blood sugar (called hyperglycemia), excessive levels of insulin in the blood (called hyper-insulinemia), insulin resistance, and inflammation (16).
MSM for cognitive health, anxiety, and depression: MSM is a acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase is an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine has many functions. For instance, it regulates muscle contractions (parasympathetic nervous system). Within the central nervous system it helps transmit nerve impulses within the brain and spinal cord, to better facilitate communication between neurons and nerves. Acetylcholine is necessary to encode new memories.
MSM has been shown in studies to lower the toxicity of a type of substance found (rarely now) in some insecticides, called an cholinesterase inhibitor, (paraoxon and octamethyl pyrophosphoramide are two). These substances disrupt, or destroy, choline and acetylcholine (18).
Keep in mind that in small doses Cholinesterase may help people to develop a better memory capability, enhance intelligence, and improve on the brain’s plasticity (20). This is probably due to the need to rehearse or reinforce the memory to oneself so it is not lost.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter associated with attention, arousal, motivation, and memory, as well as emotional well-being, and energy production. It is also needed for proper muscles functioning (17).
Acetylcholine helps to regulate mood states. So, having a deficiency in acetylcholine may cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Symptoms of deficiency may be as follows: dry mouth, trouble concentrating, confusion, slow thinking, memory problems, and anxiety, fatigue, and mood swings (21).
Potential side effects of MSM: Keep in mind that for those who have an abundance of acetylcholine, taking MSM may result in anxiety and restless or jittery behavior. Other side effects include: nausea, diarrhea or abdominal pain, fatigue, insomnia, problems concentrating, swelling, and headaches (22).
This post is for educational and entertainment only. Please seek out a qualified medical professional if need be.
1 Dr. Axe, food is medicine website. Webpage: MSM supplement improves joints, allergies, and gut health. Accessed on: Nov 24th, 2017. Accessed at: https://draxe.com/msm-supplement/
2 Brien, S., Prescott, P., & Lewtih, G., (2011). Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011:528403. DOI: 10.1093/ecam/nep045
3 Lee, H.r., Cho., S.D., Lee, W.K., Kim, G.H., & Shim, S.M., (2014). Digestive recovery of sulfur-methyl-L-methionine and its bioaccessibility in kimchi cabbages using a simulated in vitro digestion model system. Journal of Scientific of Food and Agriculture, 94(4):109-112. DOI:10.1002/jsfa.6205.
4 Joksimovic, N., Spasovski, G., Joksimovic, V., Andreevski, V., Zuccari, C., Omini, & C.F., (2012). Efficacy and tolerability of hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil and methyl-sulfonyl-methane in a new gel medical device for treatment of haemorrhoids in a double-blind, placebo-controlled coninical trial. Updates in Surgery., 64(3):195-201.
5 Berardesca, E., Cameli, N.,Cavallotti, C., Luc Levy, J., E Pierard, G., & Ambrosi, G.D.P, (2008). Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation. Journal of Cosmetic Cosmetology. 7(1):8-14. DOI: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2008.00355.x
6 Moody, A.G., (2017). Living Strong website. Webpage: MSM supplements and hair growth. Accessed on: Nov 25th, 2017. Acessed at: www.livestrong.com/article/529605-msm-supplements-and-hair-growth/
7 Usha, P.R., & Naidu, M.U., (2004). Randomized, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, mehtylsulfonylmethane nd their combination in osteoarthritis. Clinical Drug Investigation 24(6): 353-363.
8 Kalman, D.S., Feldman, S., Scheinberg, A.R., Krieger, D.R., & Bloomer, R.J., (2012). Influence of methylsulfonylmethane on markers of exercise recovery and performance in healthy men: a pilot study. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9(1):46. DOI: 10.1186/1550-2783-9-46.
9 Nakhostin-Roohi, B., Niknam, Z., Vaezi N., Mohammadi, S., & Bohlooli., S., (2013). Effect of single dose administration of methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exhaustive exercise. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 12(4):845-853.
10 Web MD website. Webpage: Find a vitamin or supplement (MSM-methylsulfonylmethane). Accessed on: Nov 26th, 2017. Accessed at: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-522-msm%20methylsulfonylmethane.aspx?activeingredientid=522&activeingredientname=msm%20methylsulfonylmethane
11 web md website. Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at: www.webmd.com/vitamins- supplements/ingredientmono-522-msm%20methylsulfonylmethane.aspx?activeingredientid =522&activeingredientname=msm%20methylsulfonylmenhane
12 Butawan, M., Benjamin, R.L., & Bloomer, R.J., (2017). Methylsulfonylmethane: applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Nutrients, 9(3):290. DOI: 10.3390/nu9030290.
13 Zhang, j., & An J., (2007). Cytokines, inflammation and pain. International Anesthesiology Clinics 45(2): 27-47. DOI: 10.1097/AIA.0b013e318034194e.
14 University of Mryland Medical Center. Webpage: Gout. Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at: www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/gout
15 Arthritis foundation website. Webpage: Gout and supplements: what you need to know. Accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at: www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/gout/article-gout-and-supplements-5.php
16 Sousa-Lima, L., Park, S.Y., Chung, M., Jung, H.J., Kang, M.C., Gaspar, J.M., Seo, J.A., Macedo, M.P., Park, K.S., Mantzoros, C., Lee, S.H., & Kim, Y.B., (2016). Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), an organosulfur compound, is effective against obesity-induced metabolic disorders in mice. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental 65(10): 1508-1521. DOI: 10.1016/j.metabol.2016.07.007.
17 Tiwari, P., Dwivedi, S., Singh, M.P., Mishra, R., and Chandy, A., (2013). Basic and modern concepts on cholinergic receptor: a review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Disease 3(5): 413-420.
18 Herschler, R.J., (2007). Website” Patents. Webpage: Dietary products and uses comprising methylsulfonylmethane US 48637 48 A. accessed on: Nov 28th, 2017. Accessed at: https://www.google.com/patents/US4863748
19 American college of foot and ankle surgeons. Calcaneal Apophysitis (Sever;s Disease). Accessed at: https://www.acfas.org/Content.aspx?id=1483
20 Nootriment website. Webpage: Acetylcholineesterase inhibitors and their effects on memory, cognition & Alzheimer’s disease. Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017. Accessed at: https://nootriment.com/acetylcholinesterase-inhibitors/
21 Nootriment website Webpage: Acetylcholine deficiency – causes, symptoms and treatments. Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017. Accessed at: https://nootriment.com/ acetylcholine-deficiency/
22 Ogbru, Ol, PharmD. Website: Medicine Net.com. Webpage: MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) dietary supplement. Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017. Accessed at: https://www.medicinenet.com/methylsulfonylmethane_msm-oral/article.htm
23 Usha, P.R., & Naidu, M.U.R. (2004). Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their combinaiton in osteoarthritis. Clinical Drug Investigation, 24(6): 353-363.
24 Fortitech Premixes, strategic nutrtion website. Webpage: Methylmsm Sulfonyl Methane (MSM). Accessed on: Nov 29th, 2017. Accessed at: https://www.fortitechpremixes.com/research/nutrients/methyl-sulfonyl-methane-msm/
25 Urology Care Foundation website. Webpabe: what is interstitial cystitis/bladeder pain syndrome? Accessed on Nov 30th, 2017. Accessed at: https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/interstitial-cystitis
26 Teitelbaum, J., M.D., (2006). Townsend Letter, November 2006 issue. Webpage: Pain free 1-2-3. Pelvic pain syndromes -vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, and prostadynia. Accessed on: Nov 30th, 2017. Accessed at: www.townsendletter.com/Nov2006/painfree1106.htm