Drugs A - Z
Generic Name: methylsulfonylmethane
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a form of organic sulfur that occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals. MSM is a normal oxidation product of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). It arises from a series of reactions that begin on the surface waters of the ocean. MSM is a white, odorless, crystalline substance that is water-soluble and contains 34% element sulfur.
No evidence suggests that MSM is a necessary part of a normal diet. Sulfur is considered an essential mineral, but no dietary requirement has been established for it. MSM as a vital source of dietary sulfur is unsupported by published research. The nutrient is generally well tolerated, but long-term effects of supplementation with MSM have not been examined.
MSM seemed to improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis and osteoarthritis. However, more high quality research using MSM is necessary to define its role in treating these conditions. Although the Arthritis Foundation reports that MSM is used for pain and inflammation, they do not recommend its use due to lack of clinical trials.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Allergic rhinitis :
Preliminary study suggests that MSM may reduce symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). However, additional study is needed to confirm these findings.
Preliminary study has used MSM, alone or in combination with glucosamine, in the treatment of osteoarthritis. The combination may provide pain relief and reduction in inflammation. Further studies on MSM and its effects on patients with osteoarthritis are warranted.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Acne, analgesia, anti-parasitic, antispasmodic, burns, cancer, cardiovascular - blood flow, connective tissue disorders, constipation, cramps, diabetes mellitus, drug hypersensitivity, eye disorders (inflammation), gastrointestinal disorders, headache, heartburn, immunostimulant, insect bites, interstitial cystitis (chronic inflammation of the bladder), liver disease, lupus erythematosus (autoimmune disorder with skin wounds), mood enhancement, obesity, periodontal disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pulmonary conditions, radiation sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, scar prevention, scleroderma (chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs), sinusitis, skin conditions (stretch marks), snoring, synovitis (inflammation of the joint lining), tendonitis, wrinkle prevention.
Adults (18 years and older):
MSM comes in various dosages and is an ingredient in many products. Adult dosage may range from 500-8,000 milligrams daily with or after meals. For allergic rhinitis, 2,600 milligrams per day for up to 30 days has been used. For osteoarthritis, 500 milligrams per day for up to 12 weeks has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years):
There is no proven effective dose of MSM in children.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to MSM.
Side Effects and Warnings
Studies have shown safety and tolerability of MSM products when taken by mouth in recommended doses. Minimal side effects, including mild gastrointestinal discomfort, have been associated with the use of MSM. No studies on the long-term effects of MSM have been conducted.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Interactions with Drugs
Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant agents may have additive effects.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant herbs or supplements may have additive effects.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature, and was peer-reviewed and edited by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Tracee Abrams, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Ethan Basch, MD (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Mary Giles, PharmD (Rhode Island University); Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, CDN, RH (University of Texas); Adrianne Rogers, MD (Harvard Medical School); Erica Seamon, PharmD (Nova Southeastern University); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Catherine Ulbricht, PharmD (Massachusetts General Hospital); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jennifer Woods, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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Horvath K, Noker PE, Somfai-Relle S, et al. Toxicity of methylsulfonylmethane in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40(10):1459-1462.
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Lin A, Nguy CH, Shic F, et al. Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Toxicol.Lett. 9-15-2001;123(2-3):169-177.
Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sci 7-21-1986;39(3):263-268.
Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24:353-363.