Year after year, the supplementation industry continues to offer new products designed to improve our quality of life. Today, we want to look at a product that was forgotten during the 1990s and that is now regaining popularity. Welcome to our article on methylsulfonylmethane, better known as MSM.
This organic sulfur derivative has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This 'collagen for vegans', as some people nickname it, is commonly taken to preserve joint and muscle health. Besides, studies have recently claimed that this supplement could also enhance hair growth. So, how can you benefit from MSM?
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best MSM Supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About MSM
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- MSM is a sulfur-based organic compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Continued use of MSM may accelerate muscle recovery, decrease joint pain, and improve skin appearance.
- There are various aspects that you have to take into account before purchasing your own MSM supplement. These include medical treatments, potential allergic reactions, the route of administration, or the value for money of the product. Note that MSM is suitable for vegan and vegetarian individuals.
Our Selection: The Best MSM Supplements
In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the best methylsulfonylmethane supplements currently available on the market. We have also included a short description of each product to help you determine which is best suitable for you. In addition, they offer great value for money and have received high ratings from past consumers.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About MSM
MSM is a product that combines sulfur with other organic substances to create anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Particularly appreciated in alternative medicine, this new dietary supplement is attributed with the ability to relieve pain, improve physical performance, and keep aging at bay.
What is MSM exactly?
MSM becomes part of fruits (such as apples), vegetables (such as chards), and even products from animals fed on grasses rich in this compound (such as cow milk). When we consume these foods, MSM becomes part of our cells and is distributed evenly throughout our bodies (1).
Its properties seem to derive from its capacity to penetrate our cells, where it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (2). We haven't entirely been able to understand the mechanisms by which this fascinating supplement exerts its beneficial actions. That being said, research has shown that MSM can influence the following body processes:
- Source of sulfur: Some studies believe that MSM could transfer its sulfur atoms to other components present in our bodies, therefore promoting its normal functioning. Amino acids, such as methionine and cysteine, may take advantage of this compound to form proteins necessary for the optimal growth of our tissues (1, 3).
- Reduction of oxidation: Our cells produce numerous reactive oxygen species (known as free radicals) daily. If they accumulate in excess, free radicals can damage our tissues and accelerate the aging process (or oxidation). MSM could bind to these radicals and minimise their harmful actions (1, 4).
- Control of inflammations: Experts have observed that MSM inhibits or hinders the synthesis of the chemical compounds responsible for a large part of the body's inflammatory processes, possibly preventing excessive and harmful activation of this defensive system (1, 4).
- Regulation of the immune system: Our immune system's daily job is to protect us from all kinds of germs and toxins. However, excessive activation of our defenses can lead to harmful short and long-term effects. MSM could act as a regulator that prevents these excesses (1, 5).
Which foods are rich in MSM?
A varied diet with animal and vegetable products can provide us with sufficient sulfur. That being said, you should add specific foods to your diet if you want to raise your sulfur levels while obtaining antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (1, 6):
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
Plants that grow in MSM-rich soils will naturally have a higher concentration of this compound. Besides, highly processed foods have a lower content than products of organic or green origin. Overcooking food can also decrease the content of this sulfur derivative.
Unfortunately, you can only obtain a negligible amount of MSM through your diet. Numerous factors, such as an unbalanced intestinal microbiota or the consumption of drugs such as paracetamol, can prevent the absorption and storage of this compound. In these cases, opting for an MSM supplement is a more effective alternative .
What are the benefits of MSM supplements?
Dr. Herschler conducted numerous tests on MSM, affirming to obtain promising results. We have compiled his findings in the table below. Please note that these results need to be corroborated by independent sources before they can be accepted without reservation (10, 11).
|Experiment||Type of study||Findings|
|Antiparasitic||In vitro (in test tubes)||MSM destroys certain intestinal and urogenital parasites.|
|Muscle cramp relief||Combination of 50-500 mg of MSM and vitamin C in volunteers||Symptomatic relief of muscle cramp|
|Oral hygiene||Addition of MSM to regular toothpaste||Reduction of gum inflammation and healing of canker sores|
|Maintenance of optimal health||Addition of 250-500 mg of MSM to the diet of 14 previously healthy individuals|| Absence of disease during the supplementation period.
Subjective feeling of well-being.
|Improvement of skin appearance||Daily administration of 100-1,000 mg of MSM daily to people with acne, rosacea or telangiectasia||Subjective improvement of skin condition over several weeks|
|Mood stabiliser||Administration of MSM to healthy subjects||Subjective feeling of alertness, calm, and tranquility|
|Improvement of concentration||Administration of MSM to students||Subjective feeling of increased focus during the study|
|Improved mood||Administration of 1,000 mg per kilogram of weight to people with a history of depression||Subjective feeling of improved mood in a matter of hours|
|Cicatrisation||Administration of 0.1 gram of MSM per kilogram to wounded animals||Accelerated wound healing compared with placebo|
|Treatment of diabetes complications||Administration of 500 mg of MSM and 250 mg of vitamin C to a diabetic patient|| Accelerated wound healing.
Improved blood glucose control in subsequent tests.
|Analgesic||Administration of 1.5 grams of MSM to a patient with renal colic||Pain relief|
|Prevention of sunburn||Ingestion of 0.5-2 grams of MSM per day in healthy individuals||Reduction of the intensity of sun damage|
|Prevention of post-exercise fatigue||Ingestion of 1-2 grams per day for six months in healthy volunteers||Reduction of the time needed for recovery after intense efforts|
In addition, MSM has often been associated with the ability to accelerate hair growth. The consumption of an adequate amount of sulfur could indeed promote normal hair growth. However, MSM has only been scientifically linked to the growth of rodent fur so far (12).
In short, MSM is a supplement with virtually endless potential. Its biochemical profile needs to be studied further in the coming years to identify its real properties better. For now, the scientific community has found evidence of potential usefulness in the following cases (1):
- Management of arthritis symptoms: The use of MSM, in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, has been tested in small samples of individuals affected by osteoarthritis. A subjective improvement of symptoms was observed.
- Maintenance of joint structure: In animal models, MSM is able to inhibit the synthesis of inflammatory markers, improving (but not completely preventing) the degradation of cartilage.
- Improved joint mobility: The combined supplementation of MSM, vitamin D, glucosamine, and guava leaf extract had a small positive effect on the mobility of patients with knee arthrosis.
- Reduction of exercise-related fatigue: A decrease in inflammation and pain related to strenuous exercise was observed in several samples of individuals who had previously supplemented with MSM.
- Reduction of oxidative stress: MSM supplementation for 28 days or more reduced stress markers in both humans and animals, showing promising antioxidant properties.
- Improvement of allergic symptoms: Supplementing with MSM for 30 days produced a decrease in histamine levels (a compound closely related to the production of the allergic response) and subjectively reduced the symptoms of pollen allergy in tested individuals.
- Improvement of skin texture: The integration of MSM into lotions has shown some efficacy in the treatment of rosacea, chloasma, and acne. It also improved the appearance of wrinkles and expression lines to a certain extent. Ingesting MSM also appears to cause similar effects.
How can I use my MSM supplement?
|Goal||Route of administration||Dose||Duration of supplementation|
|Improvement of osteoarthritis||Oral||300 mg/day of MSM (with glucosamine, vitamin D, and guava extract)||16 weeks|
|Control of inflammation||Oral||1,000 mg of MSM twice daily (with glucosamine and other antioxidants)||12 weeks|
|Reduction of muscular pain||Oral||3,000 mg/day of MSM||7 weeks|
|Antihistamine||Oral||2,600 mg/day of MSM||30 days|
|Anti-wrinkle||Oral||3,000 mg/day||16 weeks|
|Anti-wrinkle||Topical||Two applications of cream per day (MSM and flavonoids)||30 days|
As you can see, you will have to supplement for at least one month before witnessing any effect derived from the use of MSM. Also, the combination of this supplement with other compounds such as glucosamine, vitamin D, or vitamin C could help increase the absorption and effectiveness of this sulfur-derived supplement.
Is MSM supplementation safe?
That being said, the intake of excessive doses could have serious effects on human health. This is why taking more than 3,000-4,000 mg per day of MSM is strongly discouraged. The consumption of alcohol during supplementation should also be responsible because this supplement may increase sensitivity to it.
Nitric oxide is an inflammatory substance that is also involved in blood pressure control (19). MSM may decrease the body's nitric oxide content, therefore worsening hypertension in people predisposed to this cardiovascular disorder (1, 20).
Finally, it is important to remember that MSM dietary supplements are relatively new. Their safety in chronically ill people, children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers has not been evaluated. If you find yourself in any of these cases, we recommend you consult your physician before starting supplementation.
Knowing which type of MSM product is right for you can be a real challenge. The absence of recommended dosage and use by the scientific community means that low-quality supplements can be found on the market. Here are some criteria that will help you make your decision:
There have been no reports of interactions between MSM and the most commonly used drugs. However, you should consult your doctor if you are taking medication for any serious or chronic condition, such as:
- Antithyroid drugs
- Thyroid hormone
- Statins (cholesterol medication)
- Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics
Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
The vegan and vegetarian community widely uses MSM supplements. Some people claim that this dietary supplement works as a 'vegan collagen' that can reduce joint pain for anyone following plant-based diets. This is why the vast majority of products with MSM are, therefore, suitable for vegan individuals.
Allergies & Intolerances
No intolerances related to the use of MSM have been described. That being said, we recommend that you pay attention to your body's reactions during the first few days or weeks of supplementation with this sulfur derivative. Stop use immediately and seek medical help if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Skin rash and itching
- Worsening of allergy symptoms
- Feeling of choking or lack of air
- Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
Route of Administration
You can consume MSM orally, topically, or intravenously. While the former is the most widely used for the improvement of muscle and joint pain, creams and lotions may improve the appearance of the skin and hair. This also prevents the side effects associated with the intake of MSM (gastrointestinal intolerance and hypertension).
MSM is an increasingly popular substance in the world of alternative medicine. While this compound has been used as a food supplement since the 1980s, its true potential remains unexplored by the pharmaceutical industry. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are, however, very promising.
You can add this supplement to your lotions or creams or take it as a supplement and see its reparative effects unfold before you. Are you ready to discover the full potential of MSM?
We hope that you found our guide on MSM informative and helpful. Don't forget to leave us a comment in the section below and to share this article on your social media!
(Source of featured image: Алексей Резин: 98191084/ 123rf.com)
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