In This Article

What is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?

MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is an organosulfur compound that occurs naturally and is also a nutritional component found in various foods. [1]

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane): What Is It, What Are Its Uses And Side Effects?
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Many people consume it in their everyday diets, but this sulphuric compound has grown in popularity. It is now known as MSM methylsulfonylmethane dietary supplement. [2]

Dimethyl sulfone is the actual chemical name for MSM. [3]

It’s also known as methyl sulfone, organic sulfur, sulfonylbismethane, or crystalline dimethyl sulfoxide, and it’s used as a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). [4]

MSM is the principal oxidized metabolite of dimethyl sulfoxide, and it shares many of the same healing qualities as its parent compound. It’s part of a class of compounds found in abundance in both terrestrial and ocean food chains.

What are the Sources of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?

All commercially available MSM methylsulfonylmethane supplements are developed by the reaction of dimethyl sulfoxide with hydrogen peroxide. The raw materials used in synthesizing MSM are obtained from various sources. Plants and other organically based materials fall into this category. [5]

Take note that the sources for the raw materials do not have a relationship to the end product. The synthesis process for producing MSM is chemically similar to that which occurs naturally. There is still no commercially practical way for methylsulfonylmethane to be extracted from plants or other organic sources.

Although MSM naturally occurs, the amounts found in food are too small to be extracted; hence, for commercial production, it cannot be used. Distillation or crystallization can be used to obtain the purest form of MSM. Distillation, on the other hand, is universally acknowledged as the superior purification procedure. [6]

Science-backed MSM Methylsulfonylmethane Benefits

MSM methylsulfonylmethane dietary supplement is generally used in alternative medicine and by those seeking a natural solution to ease joint pain, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.

  • 1. Can Decrease Joint Pain
  • Decreasing joint and muscle pain is one of the most popular MSM methylsulfonylmethane uses.

    It has been proven to be of benefit to those suffering from joint degeneration, which is a common source of discomfort in the knees, back, hands, and hips. [7]

    MSM has been found in numerous studies to reduce inflammation in the body extensively. It also prevents the cartilage, which is a flexible tissue that protects the ends of the bones in joints from breaking down.

  • 2. Increases Glutathione Levels Due To Its Anti-inflammatory Properties
  • Scientific studies have shown that MSM has anti-inflammatory qualities.

    MSM is said to block NF-kB, a protein complex involved in the body’s inflammatory responses. MSM can also boost glutathione levels, a powerful antioxidant produced by the body. [8]

  • 3. Reduces Muscle Damage and Stress to Hasten Recovery After Exercise
  • Muscle damage and oxidative stress rise during intense exercise. Athletes endure muscle tightness and pain as a result of this, and this hinders their performance and training.

    By lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, MSM can help muscles recover faster after intense exercise. It might also help with pain relief after a long session of activity. [9]

  • 4. Helps Relieve Arthritis Symptoms by Reducing Stiffness And Pain
  • Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that causes pain, stiffness, and a reduction in motion rate in the joint.

    MSM is used as a natural alternative to medicines to alleviate arthritis-related symptoms due to its potent anti-inflammatory qualities. [10]

    It can also improve the efficiency of other commonly used arthritis supplements like glucosamine sulfate, boswellic acid, and chondroitin sulfate.

  • 5. Reduces Inflammation Which Will Help Relieve Allergy Symptoms
  • Allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction that causes sneezing, runny nose, itching, watery eyes, and nasal congestion, among other symptoms. [11]

    By reducing inflammation and limiting the release of cytokines and prostaglandins, MSM helps to reduce allergic reactions.

  • 6. Strengthens Keratin Which Could Improve Skin Health
  • Keratin is a protein found in the hair, skin, and nails and serves as the main structural component.

    The use of MSM can help to improve skin health by functioning as a sulfur donor for Keratin. It also aids in the reduction of inflammation, which can harm skin cells and create premature aging indications such as wrinkles. [12]

    It may even help alleviate rosacea symptoms, which is a skin condition that causes redness, irritation, and inflammation. [13]

  • 7. May Be Able To Fight Cancer
  • MSM’s efficiency in combating cancer cells is one of the most recent fields of research. Even though the research is still in its early stages, the results have so far been positive.

    It appears to work by disrupting cancer cell DNA and cause cancer cells to die. It also appears to inhibit cancer cells from spreading, a process known as metastasis. [14]

MSM methylsulfonylmethane can also be used for the following:

What are the Side Effects of MSM?

MSM is regarded to be safe, and it is generally well accepted, with few negative side effects. [18]

Several clinical researches used doses from MSM methylsulfonylmethane 1,000mg to 6,000mg per day. These studies show that even big doses are safe.

However, some sensitive people to MSM may have minor reactions, such as nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. It may produce moderate skin or eye irritation when applied to the skin.

MSM Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the Risks of Taking MSM?

A: Chances are it is safe if you take up to 6 grams of MSM by mouth for six months or fewer. For those who are sensitive, when applied topically, there might be minor side effects. [19]

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take this MSM methylsulfonylmethane supplement.

Q: Are there any msm Interactions?

A: MSM appears to have no interactions with drugs, herbs, supplements, or meals. It is recommended to consult with your doctor if you have started any medication before taking the MSM methylsulfonylmethane dietary supplement. [20]

Q: Can I Use MSM for Hair?

A: Yes. MSM methylsulfonylmethane for hair growth is available in powdered form, and it can be added to your hair conditioner. [21]

Q: How Does MSM Work?

A: In scientific studies, the exact mechanics of how MSM works are still being studied. However, studies on its safety and efficacy as an anti-inflammatory medication have already been completed.

Final Verdict

Supplements, no matter how powerful, will never be able to substitute a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. However, those seeking a natural health boost may benefit from the MSM methylsulfonylmethane supplement.

Keep in mind that this supplement is quite potent and should only be used with caution.

If you have a medical problem or are on any medications, talk to your doctor before attempting this supplement.

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21 Sources

We review published medical research in respected scientific journals to arrive at our conclusions about a product or health topic. This ensures the highest standard of scientific accuracy.

[1] Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):290. Published 2017 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu9030290
[2] Doleman JF, Grisar K, Van Liedekerke L, et al. The contribution of alliaceous and cruciferous vegetables to dietary sulphur intake. Food Chem. 2017;234:38-45. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2017.04.098
[3] Brien S, Prescott P, Lewith G. Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:528403. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep045
[4] Complementary and alternative therapies for rheumatic disorders:
[5] Golchoubian H, Hosseinpoor F. Effective oxidation of sulfides to sulfoxides with hydrogen peroxide under transition-metal-free conditions. Molecules. 2007;12(3):304-311. Published 2007 Mar 3. doi:10.3390/12030304
[6] MDPI and ACS Style Wei, X.; Wang, Y.; Yan, H.; Wu, K.; Xu, T. Purification of Methylsulfonylmethane from Mixtures Containing Salt by Conventional Electrodialysis. Membranes 2020, 10, 23.
[7] Ezaki J, Hashimoto M, Hosokawa Y, Ishimi Y. Assessment of safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane on bone and knee joints in osteoarthritis animal model. J Bone Miner Metab. 2013 Jan;31(1):16-25. doi: 10.1007/s00774-012-0378-9. Epub 2012 Aug 10. PMID: 23011466.
[8] Lawrence T. The nuclear factor NF-kappaB pathway in inflammation. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 2009;1(6):a001651. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a001651
[9] van der Merwe M, Bloomer RJ. The Influence of Methylsulfonylmethane on Inflammation-Associated Cytokine Release before and following Strenuous Exercise. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2016;2016:7498359. doi:10.1155/2016/7498359
[10] Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2005.10.003. Epub 2005 Nov 23. PMID: 16309928.
[11] Small P, Kim H. Allergic rhinitis. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. 2011;7 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S3. Published 2011 Nov 10. doi:10.1186/1710-1492-7-S1-S3
[12] Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):298-307. doi:10.4161/derm.22876
[13] Mikkelsen CS, Holmgren HR, Kjellman P, et al. Rosacea: a Clinical Review. Dermatol Reports. 2016;8(1):6387. Published 2016 Jun 23. doi:10.4081/dr.2016.6387
[14] Kang DY, Darvin P, Yoo YB, Joung YH, Sp N, Byun HJ, Yang YM. Methylsulfonylmethane inhibits HER2 expression through STAT5b in breast cancer cells. Int J Oncol. 2016 Feb;48(2):836-42. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3277. Epub 2015 Dec 7. PMID: 26648017.
[15] Patient education: Rheumatoid arthritis treatment (Beyond the Basics):
[16] Tendonitis News and Research:
[17] Tenosynovitis:
[18] MDPI and ACS Style Butawan, M.; Benjamin, R.L.; Bloomer, R.J. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients 2017, 9, 290.
[19] Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):290. Published 2017 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu9030290
[20] Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM):
[21] Muizzuddin N, Benjamin R. Beauty from within: Oral administration of a sulfur-containing supplement methylsulfonylmethane improves signs of skin ageing. Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2022 Jul;92(3-4):182-191. doi: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000643. Epub 2020 Feb 21. PMID: 32083522.
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Dr. Sarah Brewer, MSc, MA, RN

Dr. Sarah Brewer is qualified from Cambridge University with degrees in Natural Sciences, Medicine, and Surgery. She is an award-winnin