What is MSM? Health Benefits & Uses of Methylsulfonylmethane
What is MSM? Health Benefits & Uses of Methylsulfonylmethane
What if I told you there’s a nutrient that’s been used to treat multiple sclerosis, allergies, sports injuries, mental disabilities and inflammation? That nutrient is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).
Known as nature’s healer by many natural health professionals, MSM is a wonder. But I know exactly what you’re thinking… Why don’t we all know about this?
The history of MSM, like many other natural health supplements, has been controversial.
In his book on DMSO, Dr Morton Walker stated “Its exciting biological and medical uses have made the substance one of the stormiest and most disputed drugs of our day.”
This article will provide you with all of the information you need on MSM – its uses, meanings, and possible risks. So that you can make an informed decision on whether or not it’s something that you’d like to add into your lifestyle.
What Does MSM Mean?
MSM is short for “Methylsulfonylmethane,” which is a naturally occurring bioavailable chemical in humans, animals, and plants. It’s also known as organic sulphur.
When first discovered, MSM was known as dimethylsulfoxide-DMSO.
MSM is odourless, tasteless, and a relatively recently discovered nutrient, found in the early 1980s by Stanley W. Jacob, MD and Robert Herschler, MD, of the department of surgery at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, US.
Although it’s only been researched for a few decades, MSM has been an essential compound of our bodies for thousands of years and has simply been rediscovered.
The first recorded uses of MSM are for patients with arthritis, bursitis, musculoskeletal injuries, nerve damage, and tendinitis.
A famous 70s CBS television show recorded the treatment of a patient named Sandy Sherrick with MSM (then known as DMSO).
At the time, Sherrick was suffering from immense pain after a car crash two years prior. The treatment was a great success and allowed Sandy to get back to her daily activities free from the pain she had been experiencing for years.
Other names for MSM include:
- Dimethyl sulfone
- Methyl sulfone
- Organic sulfur
- Crystalline dimethyl sulfoxide
What’s MSM Used For?
The main property of MSM that is widely established is its anti-inflammatory effects. People take MSM for a wide variety of reasons, such as to reduce the effects of:
MSM can also be used topically on stretch marks, minor cuts and to reduce wrinkles.
What Does Sulphur (MSM) Do in Your Body?
Sulphur is used for building and repairing DNA, and for detoxification via the recycling of glutathione, an essential detox compound in your body.
Sulphur also helps keep your fascia healthy (the interconnected matrix that holds everything together).
Organic sulphur differs from sulfites that are often added to preserved foods, although they derive from the same base chemicals.
A small number of people report sensitivity to sulfites and sulphur-rich foods. Every person’s biochemistry is different, so if you feel that you may be sensitive to sulphur, please consult a registered dietitian before altering your diet.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sulphur has a rotten smell and taste, often likened to egg or fish. Therefore, the discovery that DMSO could be broken down into two compounds, Dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), was a huge relief.
Further studies by Dr Jacob at the University of Oregon School of Medicine found that MSM contained all of the benefits of DMSO without the nasty taste or odour.
Can You Get MSM Naturally From Food?
MSM is found in plant-based foods and milk. As with most nutrients, cooking can significantly reduce the amount of MSM. MSM is all but destroyed when food is processed.
So, best opt for raw whole foods where possible.
Some foods with the highest concentration of MSM are:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Alfalfa sprouts
- Green leafy vegetables
- Raw milk
Because MSM is a part of the natural atmosphere on earth, it’s essential for growing healthy crops, taken up by micro-organisms in the soil before being absorbed by plants.
However, modern agricultural practices mean that there is often just a trace of MSM in the food, if any.
Are MSM Supplements Safe? Plus Possible Risks
MSM is generally Recognised As Safe (GRAS) and is used in many clinical settings effectively.
However, some people have reported that taking MSM increases alcohol sensitivity, possibly due to the blood-thinning effect that MSM can have.
Additionally, too much sulphur can cause diarrhoea and digestive issues. There’s been some solid research carried out to suggest that up to 6 grams of MSM for 6 months is perfectly safe.
On the other hand, there has been little research on taking MSM during pregnancy, or while breastfeeding. So it’s advisable to avoid MSM during pregnancy until there has been more research.
Note: people who have an allergic reaction should avoid taking MSM.
The Earth’s Sulphur Cycle
DMSO and MSM are found in the earth’s atmosphere, thanks to the synthesis of methyl-S-methane compounds by algae, phytoplankton, and other marine microorganisms.
DMS is oxidised to form MSM by ozone, UV irradiation and nitrates and then stored as condensation clouds.
The amount of MSM in the earth’s atmosphere is highest in the spring/summer and lowest in winter. Suggesting that, like vitamin D, supplementation becomes more relevant during the winter months.
Synthetically-produced MSM is created in a lab by oxidising DMSO with hydrogen peroxide (h202). It’s then crystallised or distilled.
Structurally, lab-made MSM is identical to the chemical structure of MSM that’s naturally occurring. Allowing for larger doses of MSM to be administered.
How Long Does it Take for MSM to Work?
MSM is typically absorbed into your bloodstream within 1-2 hours. Which is considered “rapid absorption.”
This rapid uptake of MSM is continued throughout the body, with between 59-79% excreted in urine the same day.
MSM will build up in the tissues, so daily consumption of MSM is advised – consistency really is key.
It’s a good idea to take MSM early in the day, as it can increase energy.
MSM is a potent nutrient for athletes or for those nursing sports injuries. Additionally, there have been many reports of MSM providing miraculous healing when taken daily.
Previously dismissed as “quackery,” the use of MSM as a treatment for a wide range of disorders has led to doctors having their licence revoked for deviating from the medical mainstream.
However, in 2020 we’re seeing a resurgence of people understanding the importance of lifestyle factors in overall health and wellbeing.
While no supplement will offer a miracle cure, MSM has been scientifically proven to deliver a wide range of healing properties.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.
Water for Health Ltd began trading in 2007 with the goal of positively affecting the lives of many. We still retain that mission because we believe that proper hydration and nutrition can make a massive difference to people’s health and quality of life. Click here to find out more.