MSM is a sulfur-containing chemical compound. This compound is found naturally in plants, animals, and humans.
It’s a common ingredient in supplements
What Is MSM And How Can It Benefit Your Health?
Methylsulfonylmethane – better known and abbreviated as MSM – is a sulfur-containing chemical compound that occurs naturally in plants and animals.
This compound is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, but also for its ability to stimulate blood circulation (1). This boosts nutrient transportation throughout the body, delivering protein, vitamins, and minerals where they need to be.
Because of its boost of blood flow and nutrient delivery, MSM provides several benefits to overall health in the body. Including – decreasing joint pain, anti-inflammatory effects, speeding post-exercise recovery, easing symptoms of arthritis and allergies, boosting immunity, and improving the condition of skin and hair.
MSM is found in foods like dairy products, some meats, seafood, fruits, and vegetables (2).
Foods high in MSM include (1):
- Sprouts and leafy green vegetables
- Whole grains
It’s also widely available in supplements. The most common MSM supplement forms are:
There MSM-rich sources are vastly different, but all provide essentially the same 7 potential benefits.
7 Benefits of MSM
MSM provides several, science-backed health benefits due to its ability to stimulate blood circulation and nutrient delivery.
Including – decreasing joint pain, anti-inflammatory effects, speeding post-exercise recovery, easing symptoms of arthritis and allergies, boosting immunity, and improving the condition of skin and hair.
- Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects
The anti-inflammatory effects are well backed by scientific research.
To block inflammation in the body, MSM limits inflammatory response and immune cell action in the body; which reduces damage linked to chronic inflammation. It also increases levels of a potent antioxidant – glutathione – produced by the body (3).
- May Help Decrease Joint Pain
Decreasing joint degeneration and muscle pain is the most popular uses of MSM out there.
Joint degeneration is a common complication of the aging process. It can cause mild to severe pain and usually occurs in the joints of the knees, hips, hand, and back (3).
MSM is able to reduce this pain through anti-inflammation, plus ease difficulties with movement and walking (3).
- Speeds Recovery After Exercise
Exercise is a staple of a healthy lifestyle, but it can also lead to damage of the muscles. Those who engage in strenuous exercise can experience soreness of the muscles.
MSM helps speed the recovery of muscles after a workout, preventing pain, damage, and oxidative stress (3). Similarly of how the compound reduces joint pain.
- Eases Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a common inflammatory condition in the joints. Using MSM reduces inflammation to ease the symptoms of arthritis, including pain and stiffness (3).
MSM also helps enhance the action of other common natural supplements used to treat arthritis and its symptoms. Including – glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and boswellic acid (3).
- Helps Relieve Allergy Symptoms
MSM has also shown benefits to certain types of allergic reactions triggered by dander and pollen, called allergic rhinitis. This reaction causes inflammatory symptoms of the nose and eyes; including watery eyes, sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestion (3).
Because MSM reduces inflammatory response, it’s been shown to be effective at reducing these symptoms. Specifically by inhibiting the release of inflammatory cells (i.e., cytokines and prostaglandins) (3).
- Boosts Immunity
The immune system is weakened by stress, illness, and unhealthy lifestyles.
MSM can be helpful in boosting the immunity and promoting immune system function by reducing oxidative stress (3). It also boosts the body’s natural ability to produce antioxidants to protect from stress-related damage (3).
- Improves Skin and Hair Condition
The sulfur in MSM bonds to the hair shaft and follicle, making it stronger and encourages hair growth (2).
For the skin, MSM has shown to reverse signs of aging, like reducing wrinkles and eliminating stretch marks. It’s also been linked to its ability to reduce redness, improve some skin conditions (i.e., rosacea), and help in healing minor tissue damage (2).
Dosage and Potential Side Effects
There is no current recommended dosage per day for MSM.
This sulfur-compound is considered generally safe and is well tolerated by the body, with minimal side effects. Doses under 4.8 grams per day have shown to be safe in toxicity studies (3).
Potential side effects of consuming too much MSM usually occur in the stomach. And can include (3):
Also, when applied to the skin:
- Mild skin irritation
- Eye irritation
There is also concern of mixing MSM with alcoholic beverages due to its sulfur content (3). However, there are no studies that have explored this combination thus far.
Seek advice from a medical professional
It is always important to seek the advice of a trusted medical professional if you experience discomfort when using a new health product.
Author: Allison Lansman, RDN, LD