URL of this page: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/522.html

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

What is it?

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a chemical that occurs naturally in humans, as well as some green plants and animals. It can also be made in a lab.

MSM might supply sulfur to make other chemicals in the body. But there is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for MSM or sulfur, and sulfur deficiency is not a known condition.

People commonly use MSM for osteoarthritis. It is also used for pain, swelling, aging skin, hay fever, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

Don't confuse MSM with DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide). They are not the same compound.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE (MSM) are as follows:

Possibly effective for...

  • Osteoarthritis. Taking MSM by mouth, alone or together with other ingredients such as glucosamine, can slightly reduce pain and swelling and improve function in people with osteoarthritis.

Possibly ineffective for...

  • Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Applying MSM and EDTA to the skin can reduce swelling in people with CVI. But applying MSM alone seems to make swelling worse.
There is interest in using MSM for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Are there safety concerns?

When taken by mouth: MSM is possibly safe when used for up to 6 months. In some people, MSM might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach discomfort.

When applied to the skin: MSM is possibly safe when used in combination with other ingredients, such as silymarin or hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil, for up to 20 days.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if MSM is safe to use when 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.

Are there interactions with medications?

It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Are there interactions with foods?

There are no known interactions with foods.

What dose is used?

MSM has most often been used by adults in doses of 1-6 grams by mouth daily for up to 16 weeks. MSM is also available in combination products, and topical creams and gels. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Other names

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.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

References

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Last reviewed - 10/15/2021