There's a supplement out there that is gaining popularity at a rapid rate of knots and could help lower inflammation, combat the effects of stress and pain, enhance immunity and increase your energy levels. It's called MSM (methylsulfonylmethane).
MSM stands for methylsulfonylmethane, which is the oxidized form of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) — an organic sulfur compound (aka organosulfur compound) formed from lignan. It’s also known as dimethyl sulfone (methyl sulfone) or DMSO2.
Sulfur is the fourth most abundant mineral found in the human body and is also found in some vegetables and milk.
1. Treats Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain A well-researched MSM benefit is that it helps decrease joint inflammation, improves flexibility and restores collagen production. It can help form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons and ligaments.
This is why it’s commonly used topically on the skin and also taken by mouth as part of an arthritis diet and supplementation plan to pain or osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease. Research shows that many patients with arthritis, joint pain, stiffness, knee/back problems and a limited range of motion experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life when taking an MSM supplement.
MSM supplements may help treat arthritis because they help the body form new joint and muscle tissue while lowering inflammatory responses that contribute to swelling and stiffness. Sulfur also impacts the immune system and facilitates normal cellular activity.
Sulfur needs to be present for our cells to release many byproducts and excess fluids that can accumulate and cause swelling/tenderness.
A clinical trial testing the effects of MSM supplements on joint pain in 118 patients with osteoarthritis (such as with the knee) found that compared to a placebo, MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in more improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility. MSM supplements were given in 500-milligram doses three times daily along with glucosamine (also taken in 500-milligram doses three times daily).
Together they both seem to safely reduce inflammation and pain intensity without causing side effects for the majority of people. That suggests that MSM — especially when combined with glucosamine and chondroitin — is an excellent natural treatment for arthritis.
Some studies have also found that MSM may work better than glucosamine, if you choose to only take one of these.
2. Improves Digestive Problems
MSM can help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract and lower inflammatory responses in response to allergic reactions to certain foods.
It’s also useful for helping treat leaky gut syndrome since it can help stop particles from leaching out the gut through small junction openings, where they can enter the bloodstream and ignite an inflammatory response. This is due in part to the sulfur in an MSM supplement, which is important for digestion.
Additionally, MSM supplements seem to help treat hemorrhoids, according to studies. Applying a gel containing MSM along with tea tree oil can reduce pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids (swollen blood vessels of the rectum that make it hard to go to the bathroom without pain or bleeding).
3. Helps Skin Conditions Some research indicates that applying topical cream containing MSM and silymarin helps lower inflammation contributing to rosacea, skin discoloration, allergies or slow wound healing. MSM can help improve skin’s tone, reducing redness, easing sensitivity and treating other symptoms associated with rosacea, since MSM inhibits inflammation.
While it hasn’t been proven in many studies, people also use it to hold on to a youthful appearance, since it seems to help prevent wrinkles, scar formation, dark spots and sun damage.
How’s this possible? It’s necessary for collagen production, and collagen is what helps keep skin from becoming saggy, wrinkled, cracked and dry.
Using an MSM supplement helps us hold on to precious collagen and keratin because sulfur is required for the production of these “youthful” compounds. We lose collagen and healthy tissue as we get older, which is exactly why our skin tone and elasticity suffer.
You can get even more results using MSM on your skin when you combine it with other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, which all help build new, healthy skin cells.
4. Lowers Muscle Pain/Spasms and Improves Exercise Recovery Here’s good news if your someone who’s regularly active but suffers from muscle pain: Research suggests that MSM can act like a natural analgesic, helping prevent and treat muscle aches and pains, throbbing and swelling while improving range of motion and mobility.
According to a 2017 study, it’s been shown to help muscle recovery after exercise, injuries and even surgeries — and it seems to be especially beneficial when used in conjunction with other anti-inflammatories. Using MSM supplements is tied to better immune function, accelerated healing and reduced pain because it helps counteract certain byproducts (like lactic acid) that contribute to the feeling of soreness, inflexibility, pain and stiffness.
In addition, a study in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness demonstrated that only 10 days of MSM supplementation helped decrease muscle damage via its effect on antioxidant capacity.
How does MSM stop muscle pain and damage? It comes back to the role of sulfur in the body, which is largely stored inside tissues that make up our muscles and joints.
It helps repair the rigid fibrous tissue cells in our muscles that become broken down during exercise, therefore helping prevent them from swelling for prolong periods of time.
It can also restore the flexibility and permeability of cell walls within muscles, which means nutrients can pass through the tissues more easily, facilitating repair work faster and removing lactic acid, which causes that “burning feeling” following exercise. The result is less time needed for recovery, plus reduced pressure, soreness and cramps.
5. Restores Hair Growth Struggling with thinning hair or balding as you get older? Good news: MSM has been shown to help boost both collagen and keratin levels, two nutrients we absolutely need to form new hair strands (and also rebuild strong nails and skin cells).
Collagen and keratin are often found in hair products and treatments because they’re what gives hair strength, durability and that “healthy” look — and they can help reverse hair loss.
6. Helps the Body Adapt to Stress Ever hear of “adaptogen herbs” or supplements that help control how the body deals with stress? MSM works similarly, since it boosts our ability to heal and bounce back from exercise, stressful events, injuries and even surgeries.
A 2016 study, for example, found that “MSM appears to dampen the release of inflammatory molecules in response to exercise … it allows cells to still have the capacity to mount an appropriate response to an additional stimulus.”
Does MSM make you sleepy? No, in fact it can help to improve energy and reduce lethargy.
Taking it before exercising, such as running, seems to reduce muscle damage and other markers of stress. It can also lessen fatigue felt after exercise and stressful events and support an upbeat mood, energy levels and normal digestion.
7. Can Help Reduce Allergies
Because studies show it can help to reduce inflammation and decrease the release of cytokines and prostaglandins, this supplement can be useful for managing allergic reactions.
One study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that it can help to reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis, which can include itching, congestion, shortness of breath, sneezing and coughing.
Some of the most common uses for MSM include treating:
chronic joint pain (osteoarthritis, joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis) leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disorders osteoporosis and susceptibility to bone fractures bursitis, tendonitis, the development of scar tissue and other musculoskeletal pains allergies and asthma yeast infections muscle cramps constipation, ulcers, upset stomach, indigestion PMS symptoms (cramps, headaches, water retention, indigestion) stretch marks hair loss skin problems including wrinkles, sun burns (it offers some protection against UV light/wind burn), wounds, cuts, skin abrasions eye inflammation poor circulation high blood pressure fatigue oral infections, toothaches, gum disease/periodontal disease Three uses that MSM has gained the most notoriety for include: acting like an anti-atherosclerotic (preventing the hardening/thickening of arteries), chemo-preventative compound and natural anti-inflammatory.
MSM seems to help the body’s natural free radical-scavenging abilities, which means it lowers oxidative stress as well as the many ailments that come along with it.
It’s an effective anti-inflammatory because it blocks the release of pro-inflammatory mediators and down regulates certain harmful signals sent from the immune system that can affect the entire body.
How much MSM do you need or should you use? The FDA doesn’t recognize a recommended dietary allowance for an MSM supplement or for sulfur (which it contains), because there’s no proven symptoms of sulfur deficiency described in medical literature as of now.
Therefore the dosage you’ll want to take depends on what you’re using MSM for and your current state of health.
Usually, 500 milligrams of MSM, taken two to three times daily, is the starting dose recommended for treating osteoarthritis. For example, one study mentioned above gave participants 1,200 milligrams daily for 12 weeks.
Other reports show that up to three to six grams of MSM daily (divided into three doses normally) seems to be safe and well-tolerated.
Is MSM safe for dogs? According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, it can be given to dogs to help reduce joint pain, injuries and inflammation, but be very careful to avoid giving any pet a product that contains sweeteners and flavors such as xylitol, which can be fatal to dogs.
The recommended “therapeutic dosage” for dogs is about 50 to 100 mg MSM per 10 pounds of body weight.
Another benefit that men of a certain age might enjoy experiencing is the ability to salute the Queen first thing in the morning. I'll leave that one there. MSM is one of my favorite supplements and one of my staples because of it's numerous benefits.