What is it?
Some literature that promotes MSM states that MSM can treat sulfur deficiency. But there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for MSM or sulfur, and sulfur deficiency has not been described in the medical literature.
People use MSM for osteoarthritis. It is also used for pain, swelling, aging skin, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
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. 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 it does not seem to improve stiffness or overall symptoms. MSM may also be helpful when used in combination with other ingredients.
Possibly ineffective for...
- Poor circulation that can cause the legs to swell (chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Research shows that applying MSM and EDTA to the skin can reduce swelling in the calf, ankle, and foot in people with CVI. But applying MSM alone seems to actually increase swelling.
Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...
- Aging skin. Early research shows that taking MSM might help to reduce wrinkles on the face and make the skin appear smooth.
- Hay fever. Early research suggests that taking MSM (OptiMSM 650 mg) by mouth for 30 days can relieve some symptoms of hay fever.
- Athletic performance. Applying a cream containing MSM before stretching does not seem to improve flexibility or endurance during exercise.
- Muscle damage caused by exercise. Some research shows that taking MSM daily beginning 10 days before a running exercise can help reduce muscle damage. But other research shows that it doesn't reduce muscle damage.
- A skin condition that causes redness on the face (rosacea). Research shows that applying an MSM cream to the skin twice daily for one month can improve redness and other symptoms of rosacea.
- A group of painful conditions that affect the jaw joint and muscle (temporomandibular disorders or TMD).
- Alzheimer disease.
- An autoimmune disease that causes widespread swelling (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE).
- A serious gum infection (periodontitis).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Hardening of the skin and connective tissue (scleroderma).
- Indigestion (dyspepsia).
- Insect bite.
- Male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).
- Muscle cramps.
- Nerve damage in the hands and feet caused by cancer drug treatment.
- Pain after surgery.
- Painful bladder syndrome (interstitial cystitis).
- Painful conditions caused by overuse of tendons (tendinopathy).
- Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Skin wrinkles from sun damage.
- Stretch marks.
- Weak and brittle bones (osteoporosis).
- Wound healing.
- Other conditions.
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
When applied to the skin: MSM is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people 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?
- For osteoarthritis: MSM 1.5-6 grams daily taken in up to three divided doses for up to 12 weeks. MSM 1.5 grams daily plus glucosamine 1.5 grams in three divided doses daily for 2 weeks. MSM 500 mg, glucosamine sulfate 1500 mg, and chondroitin sulfate 1200 mg taken daily for 12 weeks has been used.
To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.
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