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MSM: Organic Sulfur – Methylsulfonylmethane

Sulfur deficiency is widespread – even though experts (erroneously) assume that there is an adequate supply of sulfur. However, those who consume too little sulfur due to an unsuitable diet can suffer from the following symptoms: joint problems, liver problems, circulatory disorders, depression, anxiety, dull hair, sallow skin, cataracts, brittle fingernails, loose connective tissue and much more.

Our bodies need MSM

MSM is short for methylsulfonylmethane – also known as dimethyl sulfone. This is an organic sulfur compound that can supply the human body with valuable natural sulfur. Sulfur is a vital element, and the human body is made up of 0.2 percent sulfur.

At first glance, this fraction of a percent does not seem worth mentioning. However, if you take a closer look at the quantitative distribution of the elements in the human body, the importance of sulfur becomes more than clear.

For example, our body contains five times more sulfur than magnesium and forty times more sulfur than iron.

Most people know how important it is to consume enough magnesium and iron every day. On the other hand, hardly anyone cares about an adequate supply of sulfur. Many are also of the opinion (and this is also what the media mostly spread) that there is enough sulfur in the daily diet, which is why the need for an additional supply of sulfur is not realized at all.

That’s no wonder because sulfur is considered the nutrient that has been the least researched in nutritional science.

MSM for perfect body protein

Sulfur is an indispensable component of many endogenous substances, such as enzymes, hormones (e.g. insulin), glutathione (an endogenous antioxidant), and many important amino acids (e.g. cysteine, methionine, taurine).

Without sulfur, glutathione – our great free radical fighter – can’t do its job. Glutathione is considered one of the most powerful antioxidants of all. If the body cannot form enough glutathione as a result of a sulfur deficiency, the person suffers from increased oxidative stress, and the immune system also suffers a hard blow because it now has to work much harder.

Our body’s own protein is built up from sulfur-containing amino acids (together with other amino acids). So-called sulfur bridges (bonds between two sulfur particles) determine the spatial structure of all enzymes and proteins.

Without these sulfur bridges, enzymes and proteins are still formed, but these now have a completely different spatial structure and are therefore biologically inactive. This means that they can no longer fulfill their original functions. If the organism is supplied with MSM, on the other hand, active enzymes and perfect proteins can be formed again.

MSM strengthens the immune system

The sulfur-containing amino acid methionine, for example, has many important functions in the body. One of them is the transport of the trace element selenium to its place of use. Selenium helps to defend against pathogens, protects against free radicals, and is very important for the eyes, the vascular walls, and the connective tissue.

If sulfur is missing, then methionine is also missing. If methionine is missing, then no one transports selenium to where it is needed. If there is a lack of selenium, the body’s own defenses no longer function properly and the human being becomes susceptible to infections, inflammation, and so-called signs of wear and tear, all of which would not occur at all with a healthy immune system.

The lack of just a single substance therefore never results in just one single malfunction, but rather many different ones, which – like an avalanche – cause and reinforce each other.

For a long time, it was assumed that even allergies are triggered by a weak immune system. Today we know, however, that a malfunction in the body’s own defense system is responsible for this. MSM can also be helpful in this case.

MSM relieves allergy symptoms

People with pollen allergies (hay fever), food allergies, and allergies to house dust or animal hair often report a serious improvement in their allergic symptoms after just a few days of taking MSM.

These effects have meanwhile also been confirmed many times by the medical side, e.g. B. by an American research team from the GENESIS Center for Integrative Medicine. The study involved 50 subjects who received 2,600 mg of MSM daily for 30 days.

By the seventh day, the typical allergy symptoms of the upper respiratory tract had improved significantly. By the third week, the lower respiratory symptoms had also gotten much better. The patients also felt an increase in their energy levels from the second week.

The researchers came to the conclusion that MSM at said dosage can do a lot to significantly reduce the symptoms of seasonal allergies (e.g. respiratory problems).

Although the above study did not reveal any changes in the area of inflammatory markers, MSM does show anti-inflammatory effects in other inflammatory diseases, e.g. B. when osteoarthritis progresses to an inflammatory stage.

MSM relieves osteoarthritis pain

Southwest College Research Institute researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in 2006 involving 50 men and women. They were between 40 and 76 years old and all suffered from painful knee osteoarthritis.

The subjects were divided into two groups: one group received 3 grams of MSM twice a day (a total of 6 grams of MSM per day), and the other a placebo. Compared to the placebo, the administration of MSM resulted in a significant decrease in pain.

Thanks to MSM, the participants were also able to move better again, so significant improvements in terms of daily activities could be achieved. It was particularly pleased that MSM – compared to conventional rheumatism drugs – did not cause any side effects.

Moreover, while the usual arthrosis medications simply inhibit the inflammation and relieve pain, MSM seems to intervene directly in cartilage metabolism:

MSM for cartilage and joints

Sulfur is an important component of the synovial fluid and also the inner layer of the joint capsules. Both are automatically renewed by the body due to permanent stress on the joints.

However, if sulfur is missing, the body can no longer carry out the necessary joint repairs. A chronic lack of sulfur, therefore, contributes to the development of joint problems: painful degeneration and stiff joints are the results.

No wonder a study published in 1995 showed that the sulfur concentration in cartilage damaged by arthrosis was only a third of the sulfur concentration in healthy cartilage.

Researchers from the University of California published new scientific results on “How MSM protects against cartilage breakdown and reduces inflammation in arthritic conditions” in 2007. MSM was administered in this study. The result was that MSM was able to impressively inhibit the formation of inflammatory messengers and cartilage-degrading enzymes.

The researchers around the cartilage expert David Amiel, Ph.D. assume that MSM can therefore be used to protect against joint inflammation and further cartilage degradation, i.e. it is able to stop arthritis – especially in the early stages.

As a result, people suffering from arthritic conditions and taking MSM often reported immediate pain reduction or even freedom from pain and suddenly increased mobility of the once arthritic joints.

While MSM can now be used both internally (capsules) and externally (MSM gel) for arthrosis or joint problems, one could temporarily resort to the more effective but only externally applicable DMSO for acute joint pain.

DMSO for joint problems

MSM is a breakdown product of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). DMSO is available in pharmacies, but also online in pure form as a liquid, which must then be diluted. It makes more sense to ask about DMSO creams or ointments that can then be applied to the joint in the event of acute pain.

However, DMSO can also have side effects and should therefore only be used in acute pain. MSM can therefore have an internal effect on joint problems, and DMSO externally. You can read details about DMSO and its mode of action, but also about the risks of DMSO use, in our article about DMSO.

MSM decreases muscle damage

Joint problems are often also a problem for athletes. MSM also has other advantages for athletes: on the one hand, strong muscles stabilize the joints, on the other hand, muscle injuries account for about 30 percent of all sports injuries. The risk of injury increases B. due to insufficient warm-up, wrong training methods, or overexertion.

An Iranian team of researchers from the Islamic Azad University investigated how 10-day supplementation with MSM affects exercise-related muscle damage.

The study involved 18 healthy young men who were divided into two groups. While some received a placebo per day, the others took 50 milligrams of MSM per kilogram of body weight. After 10 days, the men took part in a 14-kilometer run.

It turned out that the creatine kinase and bilirubin levels were higher in the placebo group than in the MSM group. Both values indicate sport-related muscle damage. On the other hand, the TAC value, which shows the antioxidant power of the respective person, was higher in the MSM group than in the placebo group.

Scientists found that MSM, presumably due to its antioxidant effects, was able to reduce exercise-related muscle damage.

In addition, a pilot study at the University of Memphis has shown that a daily intake of 3 grams of MSM reduces the occurrence of muscle pain and promotes the recovery process after exercise.

MSM for more energy, fitness, and beauty

Sulfur ensures that energy production runs smoothly at the cellular level and, together with the B vitamins, boosts the metabolism and in this way increases the person’s fitness and energy level.

At the same time, sulfur ensures soft skin, healthy hair, and healthy fingernails. Because all these body parts consist u. a. from proteins, the production of which sulfur is necessary. They are called collagen, elastin, and keratin.

Human skin structures are held together by tough, fibrous collagen. The protein elastin gives the skin its elasticity. And keratin is the tough protein that makes up hair and nails.

If there is not enough sulfur available, the skin loses its elasticity. It becomes rough, wrinkled, and ages rapidly. Nails become brittle and hair becomes brittle.

If sulfur is used internally (and also externally in the form of MSM gel), the skin can regenerate and is restored to its almost wrinkle-free original state. Fingernails grow back strong and smooth and hair becomes full and shiny.

MSM works a small miracle for ichthyosis

MSM can also provide good services for skin diseases, e.g. B. in the incurable ichthyosis (fish scale disease). Ichthyosis is one of the most common hereditary diseases. Symptoms include dandruff, dry, rough skin, pain, and itching – not to mention the immense psychological burden.

A case study showed that a moisturizer containing MSM, amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants can lead to significant improvement in symptoms.

A 44-year-old man with a severe form of skin disease took part in the study. He had already endured all sorts of therapies but without success.

After four weeks of treatment with said moisturizer, the skin was clear and the flaking had disappeared. In addition, there were no side effects from using the cream and the complexion improved progressively.

MSM improves the symptoms of rosacea

Rosacea is another skin condition that MSM can help. This is an inflammatory skin disease that is considered incurable and, to the chagrin of those affected, particularly affects the face.

While there is persistent facial redness at the beginning, pustules, nodules and new tissue formation on the skin can occur as the disease progresses. The patients are plagued by itching and pain and also suffer from an unsightly complexion.

46 patients took part in the double-blind, placebo-controlled study by a research team from the San Gallicano Dermatological Institute in Rome. They were treated with a preparation containing MSM and silymarin for a month. (Silymarin is the healing compound in milk thistle).

The subjects’ skin was closely examined after 10 and 20 days and after the end of the treatment. The scientists found that reddening of the skin, nodules, and itching could be reduced. Furthermore, the moisture content of the skin could be increased.

MSM for the gastrointestinal tract

In addition, MSM generally improves intestinal functions and ensures a healthy intestinal environment, so that fungi such as Candida albicans or parasites cannot settle so easily.

Acid production in the stomach is also regulated, which leads to better nutrient utilization and can resolve many digestive problems such as heartburn, bloating, or gas.

MSM enhances the effects of vitamins

MSM improves the permeability of the cell membranes and thus also the metabolism: nutrients can now be better absorbed by the cells and excess metabolic products and waste materials can be better discharged from the cells.

MSM therefore also enhances the effects of many vitamins and other nutrients. A body that has been thoroughly detoxified and well supplied with vital substances is also better protected against diseases of all kinds, e.g. B. against cancer.

MSM activates the healing process in cancer

Patrick McGean, head of the Cellular Matrix Study, was one of the first researchers to deal intensively and extensively with the medical effects of MSM. His son was suffering from testicular cancer, so he took organic sulfur and was able to activate the healing process in his body.

It is now assumed that MSM u. a. by oxygenating blood and tissues can help inhibit cancer growth, as cancer cells feel distinctly uncomfortable in an oxygen-rich environment.

Today, a whole series of studies indicate that MSM has an anti-cancer effect and could therefore play an important role in cancer therapy in the future.

MSM prevents the growth of breast cancer cells

Various studies have shown that breast cancer cells in particular have a certain allergic reaction to MSM.

So e.g. B. Researchers from the University Glocal Campus in Seoul found that MSM stops breast cancer cells from growing. The study results were so compelling that the participating scientists strongly recommended the use of MSM for all types of breast cancer.

90 percent of all cancer-related deaths are due to the formation of metastases. Since metastases cannot be eliminated with the help of surgery alone, those affected are usually treated with chemotherapy.

The problem here, however, is that metastases repeatedly do not respond well to chemotherapy. American researchers found that MSM can make metastases more susceptible to chemotherapy, making conventional therapy more effective.

The detoxifying effect of organic sulfur certainly also contributes to cancer prevention and successful cancer therapy:

MSM detoxifies the body

Sulfur is an important part of the body’s detoxification system. Many detoxification enzymes contain sulfur, e.g. B. the glutathione peroxidase or the glutathione transferases.

In this function, sulfur is an indispensable support for our detoxification organ, the liver. It helps eliminate tobacco smoke, alcohol, and environmental toxins, making MSM an excellent internal cleansing aid.

If there is a lack of sulfur or MSM, toxins are no longer excreted but stored in the body, which can accelerate the aging process and lead to much different chronic and/or degenerative diseases.

Sulfur deficiency is widespread

Of course, there are certain amounts of sulfur in our food. Nevertheless, many people today suffer from sulfur deficiency. Why? Industrial agriculture, together with modern diets, ensures that ultimately only small amounts of sulfur reach the consumer.

Sulfur deficiency due to industrial agriculture and food processing

Farmers used to fertilize with manure and in this way enriched the soil with large amounts of natural sulfur. However, the use of artificial fertilizers over many decades led to the fact that the sulfur content of the soil and thus also of the food became ever lower.

Organic sulfur is non-toxic

You may be wondering why the importance of sulfur for health is so effusively emphasized here when, on the other hand, warnings are given against sulfur. For example, sulfur dioxide emissions from transport and industry can threaten ecosystems in forests and lakes, as well as attack and destroy buildings.

Dried fruit, wine, and vinegar from conventional production are often sulphurized with sulfites or sulfurous acid to preserve them. However, MSM has nothing in common with these harmful sulfur compounds.

Use and take MSM correctly

MSM is available in tablet or capsule form, e.g. B. from effective nature. Other suppliers occasionally also have an MSM powder in their range, but the taste is not pleasant for everyone.

Does MSM correctly

You can usually follow the recommendations of the respective manufacturer and take between 3000 and 4000 mg MSM per day – divided into two doses, e.g. B. Half in the morning and early evening or half in the morning and a half at noon – always on an empty stomach before meals.

Fasting is also used in a number of MSM studies, which is why we also recommend this approach.

Sensitive people start with the smallest possible dosage (e.g. 1 capsule of 800 to 1000 mg (depending on the manufacturer)) and slowly increase the dose over the course of e.g. B. two weeks to the dose recommended by the manufacturer, z. like this:

  • 400 – 500 mg twice daily
  • after a few days, 800-1000 mg once a day and 400-500 mg once a day
  • after a few days 800 – 1000 mg twice a day
  • after a few days, 1600-2000 mg once a day and 800-1000 mg once a day

MSM for osteoarthritis and joint pain

According to a study, the dosage of MSM for arthrosis and chronic pain in the joint area is 1,500 mg in the morning on an empty stomach before breakfast and 750 mg at noon on an empty stomach before lunch.

Vitamin C enhances the effects of MSM

The positive effects of MSM can be enhanced by taking vitamin C at the same time. You could e.g. B. take 200 to 500 mg of vitamin C at a time.

Take MSM with juice

To improve the taste, you can dissolve MSM powder in water and add some orange juice or lemon juice – both of which also provide vitamin C at the same time. When taking capsules and tablets, which you swallow, no juice is necessary.

What time of day to take?

In the evening – it is often said – one should not take MSM, as it may be able to raise the energy level, but we have not found any evidence of this. To be on the safe side, we recommend taking it morning and noon or morning and early evening, not just before bedtime.

Higher dosages are also possible

In serious cases, such as arthrosis, severe pain, and restricted mobility, the dosage can be slowly increased to up to 9000 mg per day. Slowly approach the dose that leads to the best possible relief of your symptoms.

If you start with too high a single dose of 4000 mg and more, gastrointestinal irritation with the gas formation and more frequent bowel movements can occur. Because excess MSM is simply excreted through the intestines, which can lead to faster elimination.

What to do if side effects occur?

If you experience side effects such as indigestion, fatigue, headaches, or skin rashes, stop taking MSM, wait a few days and then start taking it again. Go slowly, e.g. B. as already explained above.

What to do if the side effects indicate a detoxification reaction?

Tiredness, headaches, or skin rashes can also indicate that the body is overdoing the detoxification reaction – which occurs in 20 percent of users within the first 10 days.

If this is the case for you, you can continue to take MSM (possibly at a slightly lower dose) and also take a toxin-binding mineral earth (zeolite or bentonite). Because MSM can mobilize stored toxins in the body. If these cannot be excreted immediately, this leads to the symptoms described. Mineral earth binds toxins (always drink plenty of water!) and therefore prevents detoxification symptoms.

The mineral earth is taken at a later time than MSM, i.e. preferably in the evening 2 hours before going to bed (e.g. 1 teaspoon of zeolite with 400 ml of water).

How fast does MSM work?

The effect of MSM sets in at different speeds – depending on the symptoms, type of illness, and severity of the symptoms. The effect can appear within a few days, but often only after a few weeks. However, the first positive results should be noticeable within three weeks.

How long should you take MSM?

Take MSM long-term, i.e. over months. You can also take MSM permanently, possibly taking a break of 1 week every 6 to 8 weeks. In this way, you will also notice whether you can now stop taking MSM. Because you will not only use MSM for your complaints, but many other holistic measures that will eventually show an effect, many of the drugs used will ultimately no longer be necessary.

If MSM hits you quickly, you can also take it only when needed, e.g. B. in pain flares.

Drug Interactions

If you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin, heparin, or marcumar, you should seek medical advice before starting MSM intake.

If the therapist agrees, it is best to start with a low dosage that is slowly increased. The blood coagulation values should be checked more often in order to recognize in good time if MSM additionally reduces blood coagulation or increases the effect of the medication.

Can children take MSM?

Children can also take MSM if necessary. A daily dose of 500 mg MSM per 10 kg body weight is assumed. However, as with any dietary supplement, start with very small doses and slowly increase them over the course of several days to the dose recommended by your doctor or naturopath.

Taking MSM during pregnancy

Based on the results of animal experiments, MSM is described as a safe remedy during pregnancy and breastfeeding. However, there are no findings from clinical studies with pregnant women, which is why it is recommended to discuss the intake with the doctor.

MSM can initiate detoxification processes, which is undesirable during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which is why we would definitely advise against high doses (over 3000 mg).

MSM gel for external use

MSM can also be applied externally, e.g. B. with the MSM gel from effective nature. It is designed for mature skin as it promotes the production of collagen in the skin, keeping it elastic and supple, thus preventing the formation of wrinkles.

The MSM gel also helps with acne, bruises, skin problems (such as eczema), varicose veins, bursitis and tendinitis, muscle pain, burns, and sunburn.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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