Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Medically Reviewed on 10/18/2022

Generic Name: MSM

Brand and Other Names: dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, methylsulfonylmethane, Glucosamine & Chondroitin with MSM, Flex-a-min, MSM glucosamine chondroitin, Osteo BiFlex plus MSM, Triflex

Drug Class: Herbals

What is MSM, and what is it used for?

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organic compound that contains sulfur, naturally occurring in humans, animals, and plants, and also synthetically produced in labs.

MSM is used to treat a variety of conditions, including muscle and joint pain from inflammation and arthritic conditions, allergies, and skin disorders. There is some evidence that MSM may reduce arthritic swelling, pain, and stiffness, however, there is little scientific evidence to support any of its other uses.

Studies indicate MSM has pain-relieving (analgesic), anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and immune-modulatory properties. MSM provides sulfur that the body needs for various cellular processes, and it appears to play a role in maintaining joint health and the formation of connective tissue including tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. MSM may also inhibit the transmission of pain signals by nerve fibers.

MSM is marketed over the counter (OTC) as oral dietary supplements and topical applications. Small amounts of MSM can also be obtained from food sources including fruits and vegetables, some grains, leafy green plants, coffee, tea, milk, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. People often take MSM in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin for joint pain.

The suggested uses of MSM include:

Oral and topical:


What are the side effects of MSM?


Do not use MSM if you are hypersensitive to any of the components in the formulation.

Common side effects of MSM include:

Call your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms or serious side effects while using this drug:

This is not a complete list of all side effects or adverse reactions that may occur from the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may also report side effects or health problems to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Exercises for Knee Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain See Slideshow

What are the dosages of MSM?

Standard dosages of MSM have not been established as products from different manufacturers differ in ingredients and strength. Refer to the manufacturer’s label for dosage.

Suggested dosages:


  • 1000-3000 mg/day, divided, or
  • 400 mg per 50 lbs body weight per day
  • Take with meals

Indications and Uses


  • Insufficient information


  • Safety and efficacy not established


  • There are no reports of MSM overdose. It is a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) substance and serious adverse effects from overdose are unlikely.
  • Report to Poison Control if you experience any symptoms from MSM overdose.

What drugs interact with MSM?

Inform your doctor of all medications you are currently taking, who can advise you on any possible drug interactions. Never begin taking, suddenly discontinue, or change the dosage of any medication without your doctor’s recommendation.

  • MSM has no known severe, serious, moderate, or mild interactions with other drugs.

The drug interactions listed above are not all of the possible interactions or adverse effects. For more information on drug interactions, visit the RxList Drug Interaction Checker.

It is important to always tell your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider of all prescription and over-the-counter medications you use, as well as the dosage for each, and keep a list of the information. Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have any questions about the medication.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • There is not enough reliable information on the safety of MSM use during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Avoid taking MSM if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Do not take any dietary supplement including MSM without first checking with your physician if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.


What else should I know about MSM?

  • MSM is possibly safe for most adults in recommended doses for a short period.
  • Check with your healthcare provider before taking any herbal supplement, including MSM.
  • Take MSM exactly as per label instructions.
  • Dietary supplements often contain many ingredients. Check labels for the components in the MSM product you choose.
  • MSM is marketed as a dietary supplement and is not regulated by the FDA. Products may differ in formulations and strengths, and labels may not always match contents; exercise caution in choosing your product.
  • Store safely out of reach of children.


What joints are most often affected by osteoarthritis? See Answer


Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organic compound used to treat a variety of conditions, including muscle and joint pain from inflammation and arthritic conditions, allergies, and skin disorders. Common side effects of MSM include nausea, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, headache, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, itching, and worsened allergy symptoms. Do not take MSM if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Prevention & Wellness

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Arthritis Newsletter

By clicking "Submit," I agree to the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically Reviewed on 10/18/2022