MSM is a compound that’s found naturally in the human body. You can use an MSM supplement to treat allergies and the chronic pain caused by arthritis. Additionally, MSM benefits skin and hair health. And this sulfur compound can help reduce muscle pain and hasten muscle recovery after an intense workout.
Sometimes you can improve your health by simply giving your body more of a good thing.
That’s certainly the case with methylsulfonylmethane, a compound also known as organic sulfur or MSM.
MSM is found in plants and animals, and it’s also present in the human body. You can boost your reserves of this compound by taking an MSM supplement. You can purchase MSM powder or organic sulfur crystals, and this nutrient is also available as a capsule.
Studies show MSM supplementation can improve your health. For example, it can ease inflammation and joint pain, and it helps you maintain healthy joints. Also, MSM benefits the appearance of your skin and hair, and it can bolster your immunity.
So, what is MSM good for on your health journey? Let’s take an in-depth look.
In this article, we will:
- Discuss basic facts regarding MSM, and explain how it’s used
- List ways MSM (organic sulfur) benefits your health
- Explain MSM side effects and precautions
- Provide guidance on MSM dosage
What is MSM?
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a sulfur compound that’s naturally present in the human body; it’s also found in animals and certain plants. Another name for MSM is organic sulfur.
This dietary supplement is sold in different forms:
- MSM powder
- Organic sulfur crystals or MSM crystals
- MSM capsules
Though MSM occurs naturally, the organic sulfur used in supplements is typically created in a lab.
It’s possible to get MSM naturally from certain foods. MSM is present in foods such as:
- Whole grains
- Leafy green vegetables
- Raw milk
Cooking destroys MSM. That means raw menu items are better than cooked options if you’re looking to add more MSM foods to your diet.
Also, know that MSM supplements are typically a more concentrated source of this nutrient than everyday foods.
How is MSM used?
Over the years, MSM has been used by alternative health practitioners to treat several ailments and conditions:
- Organic sulfur benefits inflammation by fighting free radicals and preventing oxidative damage. So, it’s not surprising to learn that MSM supplements are perhaps most commonly used by those seeking to address osteoarthritis pain and relieve other arthritis symptoms.
- Arthritis isn’t the only type of inflammation that people treat using MSM. Many people take this dietary supplement to address inflammatory conditions like bursitis, tendonitis and tenosynovitis.
- People also use MSM for skin issues. MSM can be applied topically or taken internally to improve the condition of your skin. This compound has been used to treat scarring, sunburn, wrinkles, wounds and rosacea.
- Finally, MSM has been used by some to help remedy gastrointestinal problems. These include conditions such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, chronic constipation and diverticulitis.
Studies show MSM benefits wellness in key ways. Here are some science-backed benefits of MSM supplements:
MSM benefit #1: Reduces joint pain and treats arthritis
Joint pain can limit your mobility. And if this pain is chronic, it can diminish your quality of life.
Research shows organic sulfur benefits joint pain. It’s handy for those with joint degeneration.
Joint degeneration is also known as osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s the most common form of arthritis, and it affects millions of people each year.
When joint degeneration occurs, the protective cartilage that buffers the tips of the bones gradually wears down. This causes joint pain, stiffness, tenderness and lack of flexibility.
Over time, joint degeneration can cause changes to the bone and connective tissue. It can also cause the lining of the affected joint to become inflamed.
In a 2013 animal study, MSM reduced cartilage degeneration at the joint surface.
And a 2015 study looked at MSM’s effect on improving joint function on those who have experienced joint degeneration. All the participants were over 50, and all had at least one symptom of joint degeneration. The research showed that MSM improved joint function and eased joint degeneration symptoms.
MSM benefit #2: Speeds up exercise recovery
Exercise has many health benefits. But in certain situations, it can create health challenges. For example, intense exercise can cause oxidative stress and muscle damage. This can lead to muscle soreness and pain that slows recovery from your workout session.
Studies show that MSM benefits exercise recovery. Organic sulfur benefits your ability to quickly bounce back for your workouts by diminishing inflammation and easing oxidative stress.
A 2012 study looked at the effect MSM supplementation had on exercise-induced muscle damage. The participants were 18 young men who were healthy and active, and they were placed into two groups. One group got an MSM supplement each day, while the other group was given a placebo. At the end of the 10-day study, those who were given MSM showed signs of increased antioxidant capacity and decreased muscle damage.
Another study — conducted in 2017 — looked at the effect MSM supplements have on muscle damage and pain following a marathon. Twenty-two men and women took either MSM or a placebo for 21 days before running a half-marathon and two days after. Those who took MSM reported less joint pain and muscle soreness than those who took the placebo.
MSM benefit #3: Eases allergy symptoms
Have you ever experienced watery eyes, sneezing or a runny nose? These are all symptoms of allergic rhinitis. This allergic condition can be triggered by pollen, mold and animal dander.
Research shows that organic sulfur benefits the treatment of allergic rhinitis.
When you’re exposed to an allergen, inflammatory substances such as prostaglandins and cytokines are released. The release of these substances causes the symptoms associated with allergies.
In 2009 research, MSM blocked the release of these inflammatory substances. In so doing, it’s able to relieve allergy symptoms.
And a 2002 clinical trial looked at the effect of MSM on seasonal allergic rhinitis. The study showed that MSM supplementation of 2 grams per day over 30 days reduced symptoms of this common allergic condition.
MSM benefit #4: Boosts immunity
Your immune system helps your body defend against viruses and illness. Unfortunately, a person’s immunity can be weakened by things like illness, lack of sleep, stress and a poor diet.
Organic sulfur benefits the health of your body’s immune system.
It’s able to achieve this by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Both of these things can tax your body’s immune function.
Additionally, MSM benefits immunity via its effect on glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that’s naturally present in the body. MSM helps to boost our glutathione levels. You need adequate glutathione for strong immunity, and a low glutathione level has been linked with a weakened immune system.
A 2015 study showed that MSM supplementation reduced oxidative stress and increased glutathione levels.
MSM benefit #5: Improves skin health
You can use MSM for skin wellness. Organic sulfur benefits skin health in several ways:
- Your skin contains a protein called keratin. MSM contains sulfur compounds that can strengthen this protein, and this can give your skin a more toned and youthful appearance.
- MSM supports your body’s ability to produce collagen. Collagen helps give your skin a smoother, younger look.
- Also, MSM reduces inflammation. Inflammation can harm your skin cells and cause premature wrinkling.
- Finally, MSM can be used to treat rosacea, a condition that causes skin redness and irritation.
In a 2008 clinical trial, topically applied MSM helped improve rosacea symptoms.
And in a 2020 study, participants were divided into two groups. One group got a placebo, and the other got 3 grams of MSM daily for 16 weeks. Those who took the MSM showed an improvement in the severity of their facial wrinkles. They also showed improved skin elasticity, firmness and hydration.
MSM benefit #6: May treat and prevent gastric ulcers
A gastric ulcer is a sore that develops on the lining of your stomach. It’s also known as a stomach ulcer, and it can cause symptoms such as pain, bleeding and vomiting.
In a 2017 study involving mice, MSM helped decrease the severity of gastric ulcers. Researchers believe this happened because of MSM’s ability to inhibit oxidative stress and inflammation — two conditions that can cause ulcers to develop and worsen.
MSM benefit #7: Improves hair health
MSM has become a popular supplement for those seeking healthier hair. There is research that shows MSM benefits the condition of the hair.
In a 2019 study involving middle-aged women, participants were given up to 3 grams of MSM per day. Those who took MSM showed improvements in hair shine and hair volume.
MSM side effects and precautions
MSM is generally considered safe and comes with minimal side effects.
However, don’t take MSM if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Not enough studies have been done in this area to determine its safety.
Extremely high doses can have undesirable effects. Rats that were given 100 times the standard human dose experienced shrinkage of organs like the liver and spleen.
Some people may experience mild reactions when first taking MSM; these include things like nausea, bloating and diarrhea. These side effects can often be eliminated simply by lowering your dosage.
A common MSM dosage is 3 grams per day. In research studies, this dosage benefits hair and skin health.
For arthritis, it’s common for people to take up to 6 grams of MSM each day. This is typically taken daily in three divided doses.
When treating a skin condition or joint pain, organic sulfur can also be applied topically via an MSM cream.
MSM benefits joint health and healing. If you’re wrestling with a condition such as arthritis, this supplement may be able to improve your quality of life. MSM can also give you stronger immunity and healthier skin and hair.
Find out what organic sulfur can do for you by adding it to your daily regimen. It’s available online and at health food stores.
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