MSM

(methyl-sulfonyl methane)

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

MSM, widely recognized for relieving joint pain, is a form of organic sulfur, which is used by the body to make enzymes, antibodies, glutathione, connective tissue, and mucous membranes. Necessary for building amino acids, sulfur compounds also help maintain the molecular structure of protein.

Other names for MSM

methyl-sulfonyl methane

Where to find MSM

MSM is a natural component of meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy. Supplemental forms can be derived from the Southern Louisiana Pine.

Note MSM is often destroyed in the processing and storage of foods.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS


Why athletes use MSM

Athletes have found MSM’s anti-inflammatory action may help them recover faster as well as help promote joint health. Often included as part of a joint-support formula, MSM is believed to help alleviate muscle pain and cramps as well as joint pain and inflammation.


Ways that MSM can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Relieve pain and inflammation and speed recovery in joints and muscles by inhibiting toxic buildup and increasing nutrient absorption by cells
  • Potentially promote the formation of collagen, aiding the health of muscles, joints, skin, hair, and nails
Ways that MSM can enhance Energy & Endurance:
  • Aid glucose uptake by cells for useable energy as an insulin component

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of MSM deficiency

No deficiency conditions are known to exist.

Potential uses for MSM

Research indicates that MSM may be useful in the treatment of:

  • Alcoholism
  • Arthritis
  • Wounds/injuries
  • Parasitic infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • NIDDM
  • Cataracts

DISCUSSION

More about MSM

MSM, widely recognized for relieving joint pain, is a form of organic sulfur, which is used by the body to make enzymes, antibodies, glutathione, connective tissue, and mucous membranes. Necessary for building amino acids, sulfur compounds like MSM also help maintain the molecular structure of protein.

How it works

The benefits of MSM are believed to be partly due to its potential to restore flexibility or permeability to the cell walls, allowing toxins to flow out and nutrients to flow in. If cells are kept in balance, the pressure buildup of toxins causing inflammation in the joints and muscles is prevented. This indicates that MSM inhibits the cause of the pain and inflammation instead of simply masking the symptoms.

Some experts suggest that MSM’s ability to reduce and even eliminate muscle soreness and cramps after intense exercise is remarkable. A popular alternative to prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, MSM has been suggested to aid in the reduction of delayed-onset muscle soreness and to promote the formation of collagen, which is essential for joint and muscle health as well as wound healing.

Because it’s necessary for the function of certain B vitamins, sulfur also aids in the proper metabolism of carbohydrates used for energy. It also may promote optimal energy by aiding glucose uptake by cells.

Some experts contend MSM may be one of the most potent anti-inflammatories available without a prescription. Arthritis sufferers, in fact, have reported it significantly relieves their symptoms.

Alleviating Allergies

Allergy and asthma sufferers have also found MSM to be helpful for relieving even severe symptoms. But it’s not only effective for inhalant allergies: individuals with food allergies have reported improved tolerance to milk, citrus, wheat, and other foods. This is due to MSM’s potential to coat the mucous membranes, allowing normal digestion and increased absorption of the nutrients foods provide.

In conclusion

While MSM is in the sulfur family, it should not be confused with sulfa drugs — it does not have the same contraindications, allergy reactions, and does not cause gas or body odor. This safe antioxidant, detoxifier, and anti-inflammatory is often found in joint-support formulas, and while research is still needed (in truth, the research is as yet preliminary, with most of it performed solely with animals), potential for athletes and others may be great.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Optimal amounts have not yet been determined since there isn’t much research. From 100 to 5,000 mg of MSM taken daily has been reported to be beneficial.

Timing

MSM is recommended before or with meals two to three times per day.

MSM lotion can be applied to the skin up to three times daily.

Tip

It often takes four or more weeks to notice benefits with use of MSM.

Synergists of MSM

Glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM combined may enhance joint health and relieve joint pain.

MSM combined with Vitamin C may help relieve allergy symptoms and improve skin health.

Toxicity of MSM

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • A lot of the published data on MSM was completed with rats and mice, and hopefully, there aren’t too many of you reading this with tails and claws. Thus, the science is still preliminary and not yet conclusive. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of positive feedback regarding this supplement in the real world, so many experts expect the research to weigh in positively in the near future. When there is some good, solid human research, you can be sure we’ll share it with you. But in the meantime, please see below for further information.
  • Haas, E.M., Staying Healthy with Nutrition (Celestial Arts, Berkeley, CA, 1992) 184, 271.
  • Burke, E.R., and Gastelu, D., Avery’s Sports Nutrition Almanac (Avery, New York, NY, 1999) 220-1.
  • Mindell, E., Earl Mindell’s Supplement Bible (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1998) 104-6.