Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound stored in every cell of the body. It helps the hair, skin, and nails grow faster, softer and stronger apart from improving neurological functions and reducing pain. Continue to read to know the other benefits of this supplement and why it is essential for you!

What is Methylsulfonylmethane?

MSM is methylsulfonylmethane, also known as dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) and methyl sulfone [1].

It is an organic sulfur-containing compound found in foods including fruits, vegetables, grains, milk, and beverages [2].

MSM is a source of sulfur which is an important component of proteins, collagen, keratin, hormones, and enzymes [34].

How It Works

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) supplies the body with extra sulfur to create Methionine, which helps the body synthesize chemicals, form connective tissue, metabolize foods, and absorb nutrients.

Health Benefits of MSM

1) Antioxidant

MSM is a strong antioxidant, capable of inactivating free radicals [56].

MSM provides the sulfur for powerful antioxidants such as glutathione, and amino acids methionine, cysteine and taurine [7, 89].

MSM potentiates the effect of other nutritional antioxidants, such as vitamins C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and selenium [10].

2) Helps with Methylation

MSM is thought to be a methyl donor.

MSM helps reduce homocysteine levels, suggesting a potential role of MSM in the process of methylation and proving its ability to reduce oxidative stress [3].

2) May Have Anti-inflammatory Effects

MSM decreases inflammatory cytokines, including IL-6, TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-8 [1112].

It also decreased the production of other inflammatory molecules, including nitric oxide and prostaglandin E2 [13]

3) May Treat Arthritis and Joint Pain

A study in animals found that MSM was an effective supplement to improve the effects of osteoarthritis in the knee.

In osteoarthritis patients, after 12 weeks of supplementation with 1.125 g of MSM 3 times a day, pain levels and inflammation decreased, while physical function improved. The pain was reduced by 33% based on a scoring system for osteoarthritis patients.

It should be noted that the improvements were small, so it is still unknown if there is any clinical significance, particularly as there are not any studies on the long-term effects of MSM on osteoarthritis [14].

4) May Help with Digestive Problems

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) may help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract.

It can help stop particles from leaving small junctions, which would improve symptoms in patients with Leaky Gut Syndrome [15].

Oral intake of MSM had anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects thus protecting gut damage in rats with colitis [16].

Further studies are needed to evaluate the protective effects of MSM in treating inflammatory bowel diseases in humans.

Additionally, MSM supplements may reduce pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids [17].

5) May Benefit Skin

In animal studies, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has been found to soften skin and strengthen nails [18].

Another study found that Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can also be used to improve erythematous-telangiectatic rosacea. It improved skin redness, papules, itching, hydration, and returned the skin to a normal color.

MSM did not improve the burning sensation that some patients experience as a symptom of Rosacea. However, it did improve the intensity and longevity of the stinging sensation [1920].

6) May Improve Muscle Recovery

A study done in animals found that methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an effective supplement to decrease muscle damage via promotion on antioxidant capacity.

Increased antioxidant capacity inhibited lipid peroxidation (destruction of fat), which helped decrease leakage, and thus the release of CK and LDH in the blood.

CK and LDH levels are usually elevated after intense muscle usage. MSM facilitates repair and is able to remove lactic acid, which causes the burning sensation after exercise [21].

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) also repairs rigid fibrous tissue cells in muscles that are broken down during muscle usage. Thus, it decreases muscle pain and improves muscle recovery and increase energy levels [22].

3 g of MSM supplementation daily for 30 days in healthy, moderately active men is able to reduce muscle soreness [23].

7) May Help Hair Loss

A study in rats found that Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can help treat hair loss (alopecia).

When applied to the depilated back skin of male rats along with MAP (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) it was found that methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), with MAP, improves hair growth in a dose-proportional manner by boosting collagen and keratin levels [24].

8) May Treat Snoring

A study including 35 subjects suffering from chronic snoring has shown that MSM administered to each nostril 15 minutes prior to sleep provided a significant reduction of symptoms in 80% of the subjects after 1 to 4 days of use [25].

9) May Relieve Allergies

Allergic symptoms (a runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, stuffed nose, sneezing), as well as lower respiratory symptoms (coughing, shortness of breath), were reduced in persons with seasonal allergic rhinitis after taking 2600mg of MSM supplementation for one month [26].

It is believed that MSM alleviates allergies through its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and binding to the mucosa thus blocking host and allergen contact [2728].

Further studies examining the effects of MSM on the inflammation are necessary to determine the method of action of MSM.

10) May Be Potential Cancer Treatment

MSM may be toxic to cancer cells including gut, breast, and melanoma cells [29230].

In mice, MSM decreased tumor growth and size (by decreasing IGF-1 signaling via STAT proteins) [312].

11) May Help With Parasites

MSM may be an effective treatment for worms, giardia, and trichomonas.

Research shows that MSM lays a coating in the gut making it impossible for parasites to attach themselves, and are therefore flushed out of the body.

According to Dr. Herschler, MSM concentrations of 20 mg/mL concentrations were effective against giardia, and concentrations above 40 mg/mL killed the organism [32].

12) May Improve Bladder Health

Interstitial cystitis, also called painful bladder syndrome, is a chronic inflammation of the bladder causing bladder pain and frequent urination [33].

Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO) is proven in clinical trials to decrease bladder inflammation, and it is approved by the FDA for the treatment of interstitial cystitis [34].

MSM, the product of DMSO, has also been proposed as an effective treatment for interstitial cystitis without the unpleasant side effects of DMSO [35].

13) May Protect Against Autoimmune Diseases

High doses of MSM provide protection against the development of autoimmune lymphoproliferative disease (ALD) in mice.

Mice prone to the development of ALD showed increased lifespan, and significantly diminished enlargement of lymph nodes and spleen, and anemia when fed a diet including 3% solution MSM drinking water for 1 month [36].

Study with mice with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) showed that MSM has protective effect before and after the onset of the disease. Mice on a diet with MSM suffered lower death and liver damage [4].

Human studies are needed to show an effect of MSM on autoimmune disorders.

14) May Protect Against Heart Disease

MSM may also be beneficial in pulmonary arterial hypertension due to its anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative effects.

In rat models with pulmonary hypertension, doses of 100 – 400mg/kg of MSM for 10 days were able to decrease the increase in heart and lung relative weight [37].


In one study in animals, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) was used with EDTA in a lotion to treat Pitting Edema. EDTA does not effectively penetrate the cell membrane on its own but does in conjunction with MSM.

It was found that together, MSM and EDTA, is an effective therapeutic agent for lower extremity pitting edema through the reduction of oxidative stress.

Supplementing with MSM


There is no recommended intake of MSM supplement set forth by the FDA.

Therefore, the dosage depends on the current health state.

Studies show that 1 – 3 grams daily divided in 2 to 3 doses seems to be safe and well-tolerated [38].

MSM is generally considered safe and non-toxic to humans at recommended doses [4].


MSM taken by mouth is rapidly absorbed in the gut, well distributed in the body, and efficiently excreted in the urine [39440].

A study has shown that after ingestion, MSM gives up its sulfur to form collagen and keratin found in hair and nails, to form amino acids methionine and cysteine, and to form blood proteins [9].

Unlike DMSO, MSM is not readily absorbed through the skin, and it does not help the absorption of other substances through the skin into the blood [5].

Lower absorption through the skin may be due to retention in the skin at the site of application which could be beneficial for dermatological conditions.

When DMSO is taken orally or applied on the skin, about 15% of it is converted to MSM [39].

MSM is also absorbed in the brain without causing neurological damage [41].


MSM is naturally present in a variety of foods such as vegetables (corn, cabbage, broccoli, alfalfa sprouts, garlic, beets), fruits (apples, tomatoes, raspberries), cow’s milk, Swiss chard, chicken meat, coffee, tea, and beer [42].

Fresh, raw plant-based foods are the best source of MSM because food processing (cooking, freezing) decreases the amount of MSM found in the food.

MSM is available in the form of capsules/tablets, crystals, powder, lotions, and creams [43].

MSM is currently sold as a single agent and in combination with other dietary supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate) [3].

Side Effects

The exact effects of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) are not well known, but MSM is probably safe to take for up to 3 months.

Side effects include diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, nausea, swelling, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, allergy, skin rashes, and headaches [44].


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