Msm (Methylsulfonylmethane)

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What other names is Methylsulfonylmethane known by?

Crystalline DMSO, Dimethylsulfone, Diméthylsulfone, Dimethyl Sulfone MSM, DMSO2, Methyl Sulfone, Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, Methyl Sulphonyl Methane, Méthyle Sulfonyle Méthane, Méthyle Sulphonyle Méthane, Méthylsulfonylméthane, Metilsulfonilmentano, MSM, Sulfone de Diméthyle MSM, Sulfone de Méthyle, Sulfonyl Sulfur.

What is Methylsulfonylmethane?

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a chemical found in green plants, animals, and humans. It can also be made in a laboratory. MSM has become popular because of the book The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain. But there is little published scientific research to support its use. Contrary to some literature that promotes MSM, there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for MSM or sulfur, which is in MSM. Sulfur deficiency has not been described in the medical literature.

People take MSM by mouth and apply it to the skin for chronic pain, osteoarthritis, joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, inflammation around the joints (bursitis), tendinitis, swelling around the tendons (tenosynovitis), musculoskeletal pain, muscle cramps, hardened skin condition called scleroderma, scar tissue, stretch marks, hair loss, wrinkles, protection against sun/wind burn, eye inflammation, oral hygiene, gum disease, wounds, cuts, and abrasions/accelerated wound healing.

People also take MSM by mouth for relief of allergies, chronic constipation, "sour stomach", ulcers, a bowel disease called diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood elevation, obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is also taken by mouth for type 2 diabetes, liver problems, Alzheimer's disease, to control snoring, lung disorders including emphysema and pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders (systemic lupus erythematous), HIV infection and AIDS, and cancer (breast cancer and colon cancer).

MSM is also taken by mouth for eye inflammation, mucous membrane inflammation, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, leg cramps, migraine, headaches, hangover, parasitic infections of the intestinal and urogenital tracts including Trichomonas vaginalis and Giardia, yeast infection, insect bites, radiation poisoning, and to boost the immune system.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Muscle damage caused by exercise. Research shows that taking MSM daily beginning 10 days before a 14 km running exercise can help reduce muscle damage.
  • Hemorrhoids. Research shows that applying a specific gel containing MSM together with hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil (Proctoial, BSD Pharma, Italy) for 14 days can reduce pain, bleeding, and irritation in people with hemorrhoids.
  • Osteoarthritis. Research shows that taking MSM by mouth in two to three divided doses daily, either alone or together with glucosamine, can slightly reduce pain and swelling and improve function in people with osteoarthritis. But the improvements might not be clinically significant. Also, MSM might not improve stiffness or overall symptoms. Taking an MSM product (Lignisul, Laborest Italia S.p.A., Italy) together with boswellic acid (Triterpenol, Laborest Italia S.p.A., Italy) daily for 60 days might reduce the need for anti-inflammatory drugs but does not reduce pain. Also, early research suggests that taking a combination product containing MSM (AR7 Joint Complex, Robinson Pharma, Orange County, CA) by mouth for 12 weeks improves rating scores for joint pain and tenderness in people with osteoarthritis, but does not improve the appearance of joints.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Varicose veins and other circulatory problems (chronic venous insufficiency). Research shows that applying MSM and EDTA to the skin can reduce swelling in the calf, ankle, and foot in people with chronic venous insufficiency. But applying MSM alone seems to actually increase swelling.
  • Exercise performance. Research shows that taking MSM daily for 28 days does not improve exercise performance. Also, applying a specific cream containing MSM (MagPro, Custom Prescription Shoppe, Augusta, GA) before stretching does not seem to improve flexibility of endurance.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Hay fever. Early research suggests that taking MSM (OptiMSM 650 mg) by mouth for 30 days can relieve some symptoms of hay fever.
  • Shoulder surgery. Early research suggest that taking a specific combination product containing MSM (Tenosan, Agave s.r.l., Prato, Italy) for 3 months can reduce pain after surgery and slightly improve healing. But it does not seem to help the overall function of the shoulder after surgery.
  • Joint pain. Research shows that taking a specific combination product (Instaflex Joint Support, Direct Digital, Charlotte, NC) containing MSM daily for 8 weeks reduces joint pain. But this product does not seem to improve stiffness or function.
  • Rosacea. Research shows that applying an MSM cream to the skin twice daily for one month can improve redness and other symptoms of rosacea.
  • Tendon pain due to overuse. Early research suggests that taking a specific combination product containing MSM (Tenosan, Agave s.r.l., Prato, Italy) might improve the outcomes of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in people with tendon pain. But it is not clear if the benefits are from MSM or other ingredients in this product.
  • Allergies.
  • Alzheimer's disease.
  • Asthma.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
  • Cancer.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Constipation.
  • Dental disease.
  • Eye swelling.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fatigue.
  • Hair loss.
  • Hangover.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Insect bites.
  • Leg cramps.
  • Liver problems.
  • Lung problems.
  • Mood elevation.
  • Muscle and bone problems.
  • Obesity.
  • Parasite infections.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Protection against sun/wind burn.
  • Radiation poisoning.
  • Scar tissue.
  • Snoring.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Wrinkles.
  • Wounds.
  • Yeast infections.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate MSM for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Quick GuideOsteoarthritis (OA): Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis

Osteoarthritis (OA): Treatment, Symptoms, Diagnosis

How does Methylsulfonylmethane work?

MSM might supply sulfur to make other chemicals in the body.

Are there safety concerns?

MSM is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to 3 months or when applied to the skin in combination with other ingredients, such as silymarin or hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil, for up to 20 days. In some people, MSM might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, headache, insomnia, itching, or worsening of allergy symptoms.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking MSM if you are pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Varicose veins and other circulatory problems (chronic venous insufficiency): Applying a lotion that contains MSM to the lower limbs can increase swelling and pain in people with varicose veins and other circulatory problems.

Dosing considerations for Methylsulfonylmethane.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For muscle damage caused by exercise: 50 mg/kg of MSM in 200 mL of water taken once daily for 10 days has been used.
  • For osteoarthritis: 1.5 to 6 grams of MSM daily taken in up to three divided doses for up to 12 weeks has been used. 5 grams of MSM plus 7.2 mg of boswellic acid taken daily for 60 days has been used. One capsule of a combination of collagen type II with MSM, cetyl myristoleate, lipase, vitamin C, turmeric, and bromelain (AR7 Joint Complex, Robinson Pharma, Orange County, CA), taken daily for 12 weeks, has been used. 1.5 grams of MSM taken daily plus 1.5 grams of glucosamine in three divided doses daily for 2 weeks has been used.
APPLIED TO THE SKIN:
  • For hemorrhoids: A specific gel containing hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil, and MSM (Proctoial, BSD Pharma, Italy), applied daily for 14 days, has been used.
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Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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