Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – Uses, Side Effects and Working

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Editor's Note: This article has been recently updated with latest information and research studies.
 

What is MSM?

Methylsulfonylmethane which is commonly known as MSM is a sulfur compound that naturally occurs and it is also a nutritional component found in a lot of food. It can be found in the normal diets of humans but the compound has become a popular dietary supplement. The correct chemical name for MSM is actually dimethyl sulfone. It is the main, oxidized metabolite of dimethyl sulfoxide which has several therapeutic properties similar to its parent compound. It belongs to a group of compounds that are abundant in the food chains of ocean and terrestrial life.

What are the Sources of MSM?

All the MSM that are commercially available are made by reacting dimethyl sulfoxide with hydrogen peroxide. There are many sources for the raw materials that are used in synthesizing MSM. This includes plants and other organically-based material. 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 viable way for MSM to be extracted from plant or other organic sources.

There are plant sources for methyl groups like the processed pulp of Southern Pine but this is not the case with sulfur. Although MSM occurs naturally, the amounts in food are too small for extraction so it cannot be used for commercial production. The purest form of MSM can be achieved through distillation or crystallization. However, distillation is the universally accepted superior purification method.

Sources of MSM

What are the Side Effects of MSM?

There have been several clinical trials that used doses from 1,500 to 6,000 mg per day. These studies indicate that even large doses do not have safety issues. Aside from gastric disturbance, occasional loose stools and other minor side effects, safety issues are not present.

MSM FAQs

What Regulations cover MSM?
MSM is regulated as a dietary supplement in the United States. Thus, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for regulating it just like other dietary supplements. The FDA requires that the product claims* should be truthful, supported by scientific studies and not misleading. They have the right to ban or recall dietary supplements that are unsafe. Also, the FDA requires that all dietary supplements are made in accordance to Good Manufacturing Practices with documentation and the use of consistent methods.

How Does MSM Work?
The exact mechanisms regarding how MSM works are still being studied in scientific researches. However, there are already studies that have confirmed its safety and effectiveness as an anti-inflammatory agent. Some studies also indicate that it may contribute to the integrity of joint cartilage and some other connective tissue. In an animal research concluded recently in Japan, MSM was found to be an immunomodulator, meaning it prevents the immune system from performing dangerous autoimmune responses to certain noxious stimuli. It also worked to prevent local inflammation to a certain significant degree to stop* autoimmune reaction during the genetic stage of induction. It has a positive benefit on certain autoimmune responses like the development of antibodies against the body’s tissues.

Studies have also shown that MSM inhibits the development of abnormal antibodies to collagen while also preventing the body’s production of rheumatoid factor and antinuclear antibodies. The pain relieving properties of MSM are well known although the exact mechanisms on how it works are still being investigated. Experts believe that it inhibits inflammatory prostaglandins and leukotrienes to prevent the production of inflammatory cascades in the body connected to the production of pain.

Can I take MSM if I am pregnant?
The use of MSM during pregnancy or when a woman is nursing is discouraged although there are no known adverse effects from its use. Women who are trying to get pregnant, already pregnant or nursing should always consult their doctor before taking any kind of supplement or medication.

Does MSM Have any Proven* Effects on Insulin, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure or Peptic Ulcer?
There are no proven* effects of taking MSM on insulin, blood sugar, blood pressure or peptic ulcer. Remember that sulfur is actually a component of many hormones and amino acids and it is needed for the natural production of hormones and other processed in the body. Although sulfur is connected to the production of insulin, supplementing with sulfur does not have any effect on its production. This is because of the complex nature of regulatory pathways for blood sugar metabolism.

Must Watch – The Benefits of MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)

Is MSM kosher or halal?
There are brands of MSM that are kosher and halal but others are not. It is usually stated in the product’s packaging. If there is no such information on the packaging, check with the manufacturer to determine if a certain brand meets such standards.

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Author

Expert Author : Ella James (Consumer Health Digest)

Ella James is a freelance journalist who specializes in fitness, health, nutrition and travel. Currently, she is a contributing editor for Consumer Health Digest as well as regularly writes for publications including All You, Shape, Self, Weight Watchers, Women's Health, Real Simple, Prevention and Fitness.