Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring, organic, sulfur-containing compound related to another sulfur-containing substance, dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). MSM is found in small amounts throughout nature and has been detected in small amounts in the blood and urine of humans.1
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2.25 to 6.0 grams per day
In one trial, supplementing with methyl-sulfonylmethane significantly reduced pain and improved overall physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
According to a small double-blind trial, 2,250 mg per day of oral methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a variant of DMSO, reduced osteoarthritis pain after six weeks.2 In another double-blind trial, supplementation with 3 grams of MSM twice a day for 12 weeks significantly reduced pain and improved overall physical functioning in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.3
Some authorities report anecdotally that 250–500 mg per day has beneficial effects on a variety of health problems.4 However, the only controlled trial using MSM used over 2000 mg per day to treat osteoarthritis. More research is needed before reliable recommendations for MSM supplementation can be made.
A precursor of MSM is formed initially by ocean plankton and released into the atmosphere, where it interacts with ozone and sunlight and returns to earth as MSM in rainfall. MSM can be taken up by plants and incorporated into their structure, but no measurement of the MSM content of foods has been done. Supplements containing MSM are available.
Although MSM is present in food, it is not an essential nutrient, so deficiency is not likely.
According to some anecdotal reports, MSM has been used in human research for many years in amounts above 2000 mg per day with no significant adverse effects.5 However, diarrhea, skin rash, headache, and fatigue may be experienced in less than 20% of people, according to other anecdotal reports. Detectable levels of MSM in the brain of a person taking MSM supplements have been reported,6 but the significance of this finding, if any, is unclear.
1. Jacob SW, Herschler R. Dimethyl sulfoxide after twenty years. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1983;411:xiii-xvii.
2. Lawrence RM. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): a double-blind study of its use in degenerative arthritis. Int J of Anti-Aging Med 1998;1:50.
3. Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2006;14:286-94.
4. Jacob SW, Herschler R. Dimethyl sulfoxide after twenty years. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1983;411:xiii-xvii.
5. Jacob SW. Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, Oregon. Unpublished communication.
6. Rose SE, Chalk JB, Galloway GJ, Doddrell DM. Detection of dimethyl sulfone in the human brain by in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Magn Reson Imaging 2000;18:95-8.
Last Review: 07-08-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.
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