Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), is an organosulphur compound. It is a naturally occurring nutrient, a beneficial form of the mineral sulphur, found in nearly all living organisms, plant, animal and human, with the formula (CH3)2SO2. MSM is sold as a dietary supplement and is commonly used (often in combination with glucosamine and/or chondroitin) for helping to treat or prevent osteoarthritis. There is some clinical evidence for the usefulness of MSM in osteoarthritis but further studies are needed.
What is MSM used for?
MSM is used in the body in the formation of keratin, collagen and elastin which give flexibility, tone and strength to muscles, bones, joints, internal membranes, skin, hair and nails.
What type of MSM do you sell?
We sell Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in its most potent and usable form – 100% pure crystal flakes. This is the optimum in purity, potency and bioavailability. Free from colours, flavours, additive or preservatives. It is dairy free, wheat free, yeast free, gluten free, lactose free and suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
Can we get MSM in our diets?
Dietary sources of MSM include meat, fish, poultry, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, grains, beans, legumes and unpasturised milk. It is likely that modern farming, processing and preserving of foods, and in particular the increasing use of pre-prepared foods, limits the amount of raw sulphur containing foods we consume daily. Consequently, some nutritionists suggest a sulphur supplement is beneficial.
Is there any evidence for using MSM in osteoarthritis?
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study (a really excellent study design for conducting medical research) showed 1500mg (about 2 heaped teaspoons) showed that MSM alone, and also in combination with glucosamine sulphate) was helpful in relieving symptoms in osteoarthritis of the knee. Unfortunately, the study was poorly reported and its conclusions were not rooted in the results1.
Another small double-blind placebo-controlled study showed significantly reduced pain and improved functioning in patients with knee osteoarthritis taking 6000mg of MSM per day, although it did not show improvement in chemical markers of inflammation (c-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)). The authors cautioned that this short pilot study did not address the long-term safety and usefulness of MSM, but suggested that physicians should consider its use for certain osteoarthritis patients, and that long-term studies should be conducted2.
- Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24(6):353–63
- Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2006;14(3):286–94. PMID 16309928
How should I take MSM?
Again there are limited trials looking at safety and efficacy. Nutritionists and the suppliers from whom we purchase MSM recommend 2 level teaspoons per day, dissolved in any liquid. This can be increased to more than 2 heaped teaspoons over time.
Are there any side effects?
Unfortunately, unlike with medicines, nutritional supplements are not subject to rigorous trials to build up side effect profiles. We advise you treat supplements like foods and never take large quantities the first time you try them.
MSM has been in use for over 20 years. Like many other supplements if you take too much too quickly you may suffer from gastrointestinal upset. Sometimes people experience headaches. However, if you build up your intake slowly these are much less likely.
If you should experience any unusual reaction however, always consult your General Practitioner who will be able to advise you appropriately.
Are there any people who should not take MSM?
MSM has natural blood thinning properties! For many people this may be beneficial. However, if you are taking other blood thinning medications, such as daily aspirin, Warfarin (coumarin) or heparin, consult your healthcare professional before use.
In addition, this may be enhanced by other supplements that also thin the blood, such as Ginkgo biloba and any containing Omega-3.
Is it safe in pregnancy and when breastfeeding?
As with all nutritional supplements, there are no safety guidelines for its use in pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding. Therefore, we do not recommend supplements be taken at this time.
Where can I find out more about MSM?
"The Miracle of MSM - The Natural Solution for Pain" by Stanley W Jacob MD., Ronald M Lawerence MD., and Martin Zukker.
Both Dr Jacob and Dr Lawrence are members of the International Association for the Study of Pain with many years experience of the clinical use of MSM.
Dr Lawrence is the Assistant Clinical Professor of the UCLA School of Medicine and former Physician for the American Olympic Sports team.
If you are in any doubt at all whether you should take MSM always consult your GP Your GP will have your full medical history and be able to advise you appropriately.