|Q: What is MSM?
A: MSM - Methyl Sulfonyl Methane - is a form of organic sulfur found in dairy products, fruit, meat and vegetables. Each of us needs MSM every day. MSM is essential to our physical well-being as it helps us to build and maintain healthy flexible bodies.
- MSM is all natural.
- MSM is water soluble.
- MSM is for health.
- Why take MSM?
Because it is extraordinarily good for you and because most of the MSM is lost during food processing.
MSM is not a medicine, a drug, or a food additive. It is a FOOD ~ a pure white sulfur powder. Sulfonyl sulfur (MSM) is found in plants, meat and dairy products. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain substantial amounts of MSM. During food preparation, we lose most of it because MSM is highly water soluble and it goes up with the steam or simply gets thrown out with the water.
MSM plays a major role in the processes which create a vital healthy body. One may be allergic to the sulfa, sulfide and sulfate forms of the sulfur family. These are the ones used as components of drugs and preservatives. Sulfonyl is also in the sulfur family, however, it is a nutritional form of sulfur and you cannot be allergic to it. You need it to survive.
A Basic Essential Nutrient Needed Now, More than Ever Before
Methylsulfonylmethane is a relatively new dietary supplement form of sulfur that is found in our living tissues. MSM supports healthy connective tissues like tendons, ligaments, and muscle. Thus, it is important in conditions such as arthritis, muscle pains, bursitis, etc.
MSM has a unique action on body tissues. It decreases the pressure inside the cell. In removing fluids and toxins, sulfur affects the cell membrane. MSM is an organic form of sulfur, whereas sulfites in foodstuffs are inorganic.
Sue Williams states "sulfur is present in all cells" and is in the form of "organic compounds throughout the body’ (2). However, sulfur can be found in the body in sulfate forms. It forms sulfate compounds with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and selenium. MSM has a significance, because sulfur compounds are found everywhere throughout the body and in nature.
Sulfur has an indirect importance, because sulfur compounds play a role in many body organs and systems. Sulfur is in the hair, skin, and nails. Many amino acids, the building blocks of protein, have sulfur as a component. Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid formed from methionine (2). Taurine stabilizes cell membranes (2). Methionine contains sulfur, detoxifies cells, and is involved in pain relief (2). Carnitine comes from methionine and transports long chain fatty acids preventing accumulations of lipoproteins (2).
Many B-complex vitamins interact with or contain sulfur. Sulfur is needed for insulin production.
One current use of MSM is for joint problems, as sulfur is found in and near osseous structures. Sulfur supports healthy muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Arthritic conditions have responded to oral MSM. Some researchers note results from MSM when used for post-exercise muscle pain (1). MSM normalizes pressure inside cells and removes toxins.
Oregon Health Sciences University has conducted arthritis studies with mice. The mice which received MSM had "no degeneration of articular cartilage" (1). The other non-MSM mice had cartilaginous degeneration. The university has used MSM on over 12,000 patents.
Researchers make no claim about MSM as a supplement, but osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, muscle soreness and muscle pain respond to oral MSM.
One researcher claims MSM is about as safe as water. One should drink extra water with MSM use.
A body made up of healthy, flexible cells will not only feel better, it will look better too. The body is continuously at work replacing old, worn out cells with new ones. The process goes on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without stop.
When all the raw materials needed for cell-building are available, it is a very efficient process. When there are deficiencies, the new cells may be weak, rigid or deformed.
One of the most important raw materials for building healthy new cells is a form of organic sulfur known as methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM). This element is so essential to life that it is found in every cell of every plant and every animal. Sulfur makes up 0.25% of human body weight.
MSM is an organic form of sulfur that can be easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Although DMSO and MSM are chemically similar, each is unique. MSM is a pure, stable, white crystalline powder without the unpleasant smell or taste of DMSO. (1-3) Also, MSM does not give you a strong body odor like DMSO.
Since sulfur is a component of all cells, it is essential that the body have a plentiful supply of this mineral in its usable form. There is a positive synergistic effect on building healthier cells when MSM is taken in combination with vitamin C. The new cells are more pliable and permeable, allowing fluids to pass through the tissue more easily. (1) Internally this means more efficient elimination of toxins, a reduction in inflammation and pain - so you feel better. On the outside it shows up as a softer, smoother complexion, stronger hair and nails - so you look better.
MSM for Relief of Pain and Inflammation
Approximately half of the total body sulfur is concentrated in the muscles, skin and bones. One of the most significant uses of MSM as a supplement is its demonstrated ability to relieve pain and inflammation. When rigid fibrous tissue cells swell and become inflamed, pressure and pain result. Since MSM can restore flexibility and permeability to cell walls, fluids can pass through the tissues more easily. This helps equalize pressure and reduce or eliminate the cause of pain. Harmful substances such as lactic acid and toxins are allowed to flow out, while nutrients are permitted to flow in. This prevents the pressure buildup in cells that causes inflammation. (1)
MSM has shown a remarkable ability to reduce or eliminate muscle soreness and cramps both in geriatric patients and in athletes. It's even given to race horses before a race to prevent muscle soreness, and afterward to reduce the risk of cramping. People with arthritis report substantial and long-lasting relief with MSM supplements. Taken along with glucosamine, a key substance in the process of rebuilding cartilage, MSM can relieve pain and help repair worn or damaged cartilage in joints, ligaments and tendons with healthy, flexible new cells. (1)
How Does MSM Work?
MSM makes cell walls permeable, allowing water and nutrients to freely flow into cells and allowing wastes and toxins to properly flow out. The body uses MSM along with Vitamin C to create new, healthy cells, and MSM provides the flexible bond between the cells. Without proper levels of MSM, our bodies are unable to build good healthy cells, and this leads to problems such as lost flexibility, scar tissue, wrinkles, varicose veins, hardened arteries, damaged lung tissues, dry cracking skin, digestive disorders, joint problems, and inability to defend against allergic reactions to food, animals and plants.
MSM is an anti-oxidant that helps to clean the blood stream and flush toxins trapped in our cells. It is also a foreign protein and free radical scavenger. In order to maintain good health, we need to supplement our diets with MSM, to enable the body to heal itself. The body uses what it needs, and after 12 hours will flush out any excess amounts.
The Beauty Mineral for Hair, Skin and Nails
Sulfur has been called nature's "beauty mineral" because it is needed to keep the hair glossy and smooth and keeps the complexion clear and youthful. It is needed for synthesis of collagen and is prevalent in keratin, a tough protein substance necessary for health and maintenance of the skin, nails and hair.
MSM is responsible for the flexible disulfide bonds between cells, including those that make up the skin. It blocks undesirable chemical and physical cross-linking or bonding of collagen which is associated with tough, aging skin. Con consequently MSM enhances tissue pliability and encourages repair of damaged skin.
If there is insufficient sulfur in the body when new cells are being manufactured, the new cells will be rigid. This rigidity can contribute to cracking, wrinkling and unsightly scar tissue. When sufficient sulfur is present for new cells, the skin is softer, smoother and more flexible. MSM provides that sulfur.
Flexible, permeable cells are also important in that they allow toxins, allergens and foreign substances to be flushed out of the body more easily . When skin cells are soft and permeable, many toxins can be eliminated through the sweat glands, which takes some of the load off the liver and kidneys. While MSM is not a cure for allergies, supplementation may reduce symptoms by allowing allergens to be removed from the body more quickly. Even reactions to insect bites, poison ivy and poison oak are less severe when the diet is supplemented with MSM. Vitamin C is also synergistic in this application in that it can lower histamine levels.
MSM ranks in the "extremely low" toxicity category with a toxicity profile similar to that of water. When oral supplements are taken, the body will distribute MSM where it is needed. After about 12 hours, any excess amounts will be flushed out of the body. MSM, a member of the sulfur family, should never be confused with sulfa drugs to which some people are allergic.
Total Health. 1998. "MSM". Feb/Mar, Vol., 20 No. 1. pp. 30-31.
Williams, S. 1997. Nutrition & Diet Therapy (8th ed.). Academic Press, N.Y., N.Y.
Thomas, C. 1993. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, (1 7th Ed.). F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA.
Mindell, Earl L., The MSM Miracle - Enhance your health with organic sulfur, Keats Good Health Guide, Keats Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT, 1997
Herschler, R. J., "Methylsulfonylmethane in Cosmetics", 1984, Cardinal Associates, Inc.
Whitaker, J., "Try MSM for Relief from Muscular Pain", Health and Healing, Oct. 1997 Kirschmann, J. D. and Dunne, L. J., Nutrition Almanac, Second Edition, McGraw-Hill, 1984
Balch, J. F. and Balch P.A., Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, 1990