health benefits of msm

The Health Benefits of MSM

What is MSM?

MSM (Methylsulphonylmethane or Methylsulfonylmethane, the American spelling) is an organic sulphur compound that is present in every cell in the human body. It is commonly detected in the atmosphere above oceans and seas as a result of the death and decomposition of phytoplankton, which decays and releases an odoriferous compound called dimethyl sulphide (DMS) into the atmosphere. MSM, dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and other sulphates form when DMS reacts with sunlight and oxygen and undergoes an oxidative process. These compounds are assimilated into the atmosphere, and because of their water-soluble nature, are returned to the earth in rainfall, and absorbed by the root systems of plants. As a result, MSM is found in minute quantities in a variety of foods. We have referenced many scientific research articles and studies which have established the health benefits of MSM in alleviating and relieving the symptoms of a number of conditions ranging from arthritis to exercise-induced muscle pain.

How is MSM Made?

The MSM found in supplements is biomimetic, which means that its production process leverages synthetic methods which mimic biochemical processes. Because there are no commercially viable means of extracting MSM from natural sources, it is typically produced in a laboratory through the catalytic reaction of hydrogen peroxide and DMSO, which is produced through the reaction of DMS and nitrogen tetroxide. DMS, in turn, is produced through the reaction of sulphur and methane, a natural gas.

After the reaction process, the MSM must be removed from the reaction solution. Two processes used are either crystallisation or distillation. Most chemists recognise distillation as being the superior separation method for MSM purification, and it can yield a product purity of more than 99.9%. The distillation method makes use of boiling point differentials to separate the MSM from the water and other impurities, while the crystallisation method separates the MSM from the parent solvent by decreasing the solubility of the MSM through cooling of the solution.

It is important to note that the synthesised form of MSM is indistinguishable from the form produced in nature, and hence it would be a moot argument to assert that one type of MSM is more natural than another. Purity, however, is another issue, and even though reaction methods differ very little, it is the separation process that defines the purity. Products made from OptiMSM contain MSM produced by Bergstrom Nutrition, which has earned the reputation as the purest, safest, most consistent quality MSM in the world.

OptiMSM is the only GRAS-designated MSM on the market. GRAS (“generally recognized as safe”) is the designation given by the FDA to substances considered safe for direct or indirect addition to food.

How Does MSM Work?

Although studies have found that MSM has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, its mechanisms of action aren’t fully understood. Sulfur, a significant component of MSM, comprises about 0.25% of our total body weight, and aids in the production of collagen, which gives skin its strength and elasticity, and glucosamine, a component of joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and synovial fluid. Research has shown that MSM causes a significant reduction in pain and deterioration of the cartilage in joints, as well as an improvement in joint mobility. MSM has also been reported to improve the effect of glucosamine in reducing pain and swelling in osteoarthritis.

What Do People Use MSM For?

MSM is usually taken orally but sometimes also topically, typically to relieve the pain or inflammation associated with conditions such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint Pain

Some people also take MSM to alleviate conditions such as:

  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Hangover
  • Diverticulosis

The Health Benefits of MSM

Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement: View Research Paper

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) has become a popular dietary supplement used for a variety of purposes, including its most common use as an anti-inflammatory agent. It has been well-investigated in animal models, as well as in human clinical trials and experiments. A variety of health-specific outcome measures are improved with MSM supplementation, including inflammation, joint/muscle pain, oxidative stress, and antioxidant capacity. Initial evidence is available regarding the dose of MSM needed to provide benefit, although additional work is underway to determine the precise dose and time course of treatment needed to provide optimal benefits. As a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) approved substance, MSM is well-tolerated by most individuals at dosages of up to four grams daily, with few known and mild side effects. This review provides an overview of MSM, with details regarding its common uses and applications as a dietary supplement, as well as its safety for consumption.

Whether naturally produced or manufactured, MSM exhibits no biochemical differences in its ability to intermediate oxidative stress and inflammation. This micronutrient is well tolerated for arthritis and a number of other conditions related to inflammation, physical function, and performance. Emerging research suggests that MSM may one day aid in the treatment of various types of cancer or metabolic syndromes.

MSM for Exercise Recovery

The post-exercise buildup of lactic acid causes pain and soreness in the muscles.  MSM is reputed to make cells more permeable, which increases the body’s ability to eliminate waste and lactic acid at the cellular level, which speeds recovery.

Influence of methylsulfonylmethane on markers of exercise recovery and performance in healthy men: View Research Paper

MSM, especially when provided at 3.0 grams per day, may favorably influence selected markers of exercise recovery. More work is needed to extend these findings, in particular using a larger sample of subjects and the inclusion of additional markers of exercise recovery and performance.

The Influence of Methylsulfonylmethane on Inflammation-Associated Cytokine Release before and following Strenuous Exercise: View Research Paper

Taken together, these data suggest that an intense bout of exercise causes muscle damage that induces a robust inflammatory reaction that results in exercise-induced leukocyte death and temporary immunosuppression. MSM, acting as an antioxidant, is able to blunt tissue damage and the resulting inflammation and, as a consequence, prevent leukocyte apoptosis. As inflammation induced by exercise may cause prolonged muscle soreness, these data are in agreement with the results noting a reduction in muscle soreness after exercise with MSM supplementation. Based on these results, we speculate that MSM taken during intense bouts of exercise would reduce postexercise immunosuppression.

Effect of chronic supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exercise in untrained healthy men: View Research Paper

These results suggest that chronic daily oral supplementation of MSM has alleviating effects on known markers of oxidative stress following acute bouts of exercise in healthy young men.

Effects of MSM on exercise-induced muscle and joint pain: View Research Paper

Three weeks of MSM supplementation at 3g/day attenuated post-exercise muscle and joint pain at clinically significant levels compared to placebo.

MSM as a Treatment for Arthritis

Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement: View Research Paper

In studies with osteoarthritic populations given MSM daily, significant improvements in physical function were observed, as assessed through the WOMAC, SF36, and Aggregated Locomotor Function (ALF). Objective kinetic knee measurements following eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage were not conclusive but suggest that MSM may aid in maximal isometric knee extensor recovery.

MSM is currently a CAM treatment alone and in combination for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. MSM, as a micronutrient with enhanced penetrability properties, is commonly integrated with other anti-arthritic agents including glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and boswellic acid.

Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: View Research Paper

Patients with osteoarthritis (OA) take a variety of health supplements in an attempt to reduce pain and improve function. The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in treating patients with knee OA.

Patients with OA of the knee taking MSM for 12 weeks showed an improvement in pain and physical function. The results suggest that larger and long-term studies may find additional and greater improvements in knee OA symptoms.

Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: View Research Paper

Compared to placebo, MSM produced significant decreases in WOMAC pain and physical function impairment (P < 0.05). No notable changes were found in WOMAC stiffness and aggregated total symptoms scores. MSM also produced improvement in performing activities of daily living when compared to placebo on the SF-36 evaluation (P < 0.05).

MSM as a Cancer Treatment

Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement: View Research Paper

An emerging area of MSM research deals with the anti-cancer effect of the organosulfur compound. In vitro studies using MSM alone or in combination have evaluated the metabolic and phenotypic effects of a number of cancer cell lines including breast, esophagus, stomach, liver, colon, bladder, and skin cancers with promising results. MSM independently has been shown to be cytotoxic to cancer cells by inhibiting cell viability through the induction of cell cycle arrest, necrosis, or apoptosis. The inhibition of cell growth and proliferation may be attributed to the metabolic alterations induced by MSM at the transcriptional and/or post-translational stages. For instance, MSM has been shown to inhibit expression and DNA binding of transcription factors such as STAT3 and STAT5b; meanwhile, the p53 transcription factor is maintained by MSM and does not induce apoptosis. 

MSM has been shown to repress the expression or activities of STAT transcription factors in a number of cancer cell lines in vitro. The janus kinase (Jak)/STAT pathway is involved in regulation of genes related to apoptosis, differentiation, and proliferation, all of which generate ROS as a necessary signaling component.

Additionally, MSM may serve other immune modulatory effects related to cell cycle and cell death. In vitro studies indicate that MSM can induce apoptosis in gastrointestinal cancer cells, hepatic cancer cells, and colon cancer cells. Contrary to these findings, MSM did not induce apoptosis in murine breast cancer cells. Rather, MSM was shown to restore normal cellular metabolism to both metastatic murine breast cancer and murine melanoma cells. Cell cycle arrest has also been observed in gastrointestinal cancer cells and myoblasts. These alterations to cell survival may arise from cyclin production modulations to the p53 and Jak/STAT pathways.

MSM as a Beauty Treatment

MSM has been called “the beauty mineral” because it aids the body’s production of collagen and keratin, which are critical to the strength and health of your skin, hair and nails. MSM may help reduce the signs of ageing.

How Long Does MSM Take to Work?

Studies in humans have revealed that MSM quickly enters the bloodstream, and starts working within an hour. In most cases, people will start noticing the effects of MSM supplementation within two weeks. However, the effects are generally dose-dependent.

How Much MSM Should I Take?

There is no officially recognised recommended dose for MSM, but a daily dosage of 2-6g per day has a well-established safety record. A good starting point would be to take 500mg MSM 3 times a day and increase every two weeks until no further improvements are noticed.

Is MSM Safe?

Research suggests that MSM is well tolerated as a short-term treatment, even in high dosages of up to 1500 mg per day for up to three months. Interestingly, no toxic dosage of MSM has been determined. Reported side-effects include mild gastrointestinal discomfort. Little research has been conducted on the long-term side-effects of MSM.

Where Can I Buy MSM?

Buy MSM Online at Organica

You can purchase MSM products from our online store, and we will courier your package to your door or a nearby collection point anywhere in South Africa. For international customers, select the ‘Quote for Worldwide Shipping’ option at the checkout. Take a look at our most popular MSM products below.

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It would almost seem that the health benefits of MSM are too good to be true, but scientific studies are now bolstering what was once just anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of MSM in the treatment of so many ailments and maladies. If you are interested in MSM and would like to know more, please do feel free to contact our customer service team at, or click the chat button on our website.

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