What is MSM?


What is MSM?

MSM, also known as methyl sulfonyl methane, is a compound found naturally in foods such as cow’s milk, meat, seafood, fruits and vegetables.

MSM is thought to work by contributing sulfur. It’s found in capsule or tablet forms. MSM is also available as a cream or lotion, although evidence suggests it can’t be absorbed through skin.

Why Do People Use MSM

1) Osteoarthritis

Two small studies suggest MSM may reduce osteoarthritis pain. MSM is often combined with glucosamine in commercial arthritis products. It’s thought to work because of the sulfur, which is believed to strengthen collagen. More evidence is needed.

2) Interstitial cystitis

MSM has been proposed as a treatment for interstitial cystitis, although human studies are needed.


One small, preliminary study found that MSM resulted in quieter snoring.

Other Conditions

MSM has been explored for cancer prevention, scleroderma, allergies and constipation.

Side Effects and Safety

Side effects with MSM are rare but may include stomach upset, headache and diarrhea. One study suggested MSM was safe for up to 12 weeks.

The safety of MSM in pregnant or nursining women, children, or people with liver or kidney disease, however, isn’t known.


Natural Energy Booster


MSM is an abbreviation of methylsulfonylmethane, an organic form of sulfur. The chemical formula of MSM is CH3SO2CH3. It is the form in which sulfur appears in nature in all living organisms, and in which it is biologically active. MSM is an odorless, white, crystalline powder that is highly soluble in hot water and in a wide range of organic solvents (1). Biologically active sulfur has incredible preventive and therapeutic properties. The medicinal properties of biological sulfur are profound, and they are also based on obvious principles. Because of these characteristics, the discovery of biological sulfur’s role in health, and the process that enabled its successful delivery in supplemental form, are generally considered among the biggest advances in orthomolecular medicine in the second half of this century.


About forty years ago, Dr. Stanley Jacob and Dr. Robert Herschler, chemists with the pulp and paper plant Crown Zellerbach Corporation, were asked to find a use for lignin, one of the primary waste products of the plant. Oxidation of lignin in a reactor was shown to result in the formation of DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide), a natural, organic form of sulfur. This water soluble compound has a strong and bitter taste, and is absorbed rapidly through the skin. According to George Bergstrom, who later went into business manufacturing biological sulfur for medicinal use, workers coming in contact with the DMSO-saturated wastewater noticed their perspiration began smelling like DMSO, and they tasted its bitterness in their mouths. Moreover, the water appeared to have special medicinal qualities. Many stories about miraculous recoveries and benefits still go around, but they can not be authenticated. It became clear, however, that cuts, scrapes, burns and sprains recovered more quickly when dipped in this water. Several workers also noticed that conditions caused by arthritis and asthma improved when they came in contact with the DMSO water.

Following its original discovery, several thousand articles and publications have appeared in the United States discussing the medicinal properties of DMSO. Because of its bitter taste and penetrating odor, DMSO never became very popular with the general public. Another problem with DMSO was that it sometimes caused skin irritation when applied topically. For these reasons, researchers began looking to engineer a less repellant derivative of DMSO that would contain all of its positive health benefits without its negative qualities. Oxidation of DMSO was found to produce MSM, a much more stable, organic sulfur compound with medicinal properties at least equal to DMSO, but without the odor and skin irritation complications (4, 8, 9).


MSM is the natural form in which sulfur makes a cyclical journey from the food chain into the earth and back again, known as the earth’s “sulfur cycle” (3). Algae and several forms of plankton are capable of absorbing massive amounts of inorganic sulfur from seawater, and of converting this into a simple, organically-bound form. When these algae and planktonic organisms die, enzymatic processes result in the breakdown of the organic molecules into DMS, or Dimethylsulfide. This compound is volatile and poorly soluble in water. It collects in the stratosphere, where it is oxidized under the influence of ultraviolet light into DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide), and further converted into MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). DMSO and MSM are highly soluble in water, and therefore concentrate easily in atmospheric water vapor, returning to earth in the form of rain. Plant roots rapidly collect and concentrate these sulfur sources. Laboratory research has shown, that a one ppm mixture of radioactive labeled DMSO and MSM, can concentrate hundred fold in plant roots within hours (4).

Because of this process, rainwater contains a lot of MSM. It is also abundantly found in fresh fruit and vegetables in amounts generally ranging from 1 to 4 mg/kg (3). Raw milk from cows which graze in pastures contains 2 to 5 mg/kg MSM. Due to the volatile nature of MSM, it is rapidly lost when consumables are heated during food preparation or pasteurization. Pasturized milk therefore contains less than 0.25 mg/kg MSM, roughly the same amount found in milk from cows fed dried, artificial food (3). MSM is also lost when vegetables and fruit are frozen for a lengthy period of time, or when they are irradiated. Due to the realities of the modern food industry, in which a great portion of everything consumed is either heated, irradiated, or frozen for a period of time, most people in post-industrial societies suffer from a chronic shortage of MSM.


The natural level of MSM in the circulatory system of an adult human male is about 0.2 mg/kg. Normal adults excrete 4 to 11 mg MSM per day in their urine. Several studies suggest that the systemic concentration of MSM drops in mammals with increased age, possibly as a result of changing diet or body metabolism. Some research suggests that there is a minimum concentration of MSM that must be maintained in the body to preserve normal physiological function and the molecular structure of our musculoskeletal systems (8, 9). Low concentrations of MSM in our bodies have been linked with unspecified complaints of fatigue, depression, high sensitivity to physical and psychological stress, and with a large number of degenerative diseases (5, 6). MSM is an important source of sulfur, but also has unique properties related to its chemical structure and biological activities. To understand the preventive and therapeutic properties of MSM, a distinction needs to be made between the questions of “why humans need sulfur” and “why humans need MSM.”


Following calcium and phosphorus, sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the body. A grown man of average height and weight has approximately 140 grams of sulfur distributed through their system (6). Nearly half of all sulfur is contained in muscular tissue, skin, and bones (5).

Protein Structure

When plants absorb MSM from rainwater, they convert it into sulfur containing the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Taurine and cystine, the other two known sulfur amino acids, are synthesized from cysteine. The body manufactures about 80% of the amino acids it needs, and these are classified as nonessential. The remaining 20%, called essential amino acids, must be obtained from food. Methionine and cysteine are considered two of them. There are approximately 28 known amino acids. Each type of protein is made up of a unique collection of amino acids in a specific combination. Two molecules of cysteine can oxidize and bond together through sulfur (-S-S-) bonds (5). These sulfur bonds are the key factors that hold proteins in shape, and determine the form, properties, and biological activities of proteins.

Connective Tissue

Nails and hair primary consist of a tough protein with a high sulfur content, known as keratin. Flexible tissues like connective tissue and cartilage contain proteins with flexible sulfur bonds. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and a major component of all connective tissue. In skin, collagen works with fibers of another protein called elastin, to give skin its elasticity. In cartilage, the sulfur containing proteoglycans glucosamine and chondroitin form with collagen, a fibrous protein substance that give cartilage its structure and flexibility (5, 6).

The importance of the connective tissue for the body goes beyond simply keeping cells together. The first biophysical regulatory model was developed by Prof. Pischinger, which he termed the “Vegetative Building Structure.” This theory was further developed by Prof. Heine, who described proteoglycans and glycosamines, and by Dr. Popp, a biophysicist, who showed the importance of electromagnetic fields in bio-information. Their research has demonstrated that the soft, connective tissue, the extracellular matrix that surrounds cells, serves more than simply structural and connective purposes. It also is important in the transport of nutrients, electrolytes, signal compounds and atomic and subatomic particles. Thus, the soft connective tissue forms an essential communication network within the body through the transfer of fine matter bio-information (13 -16).

As many people notice later in life, the flexible tissues lose their elastic properties. A shortage of sulfur is the likely cause of this problem. The consequences are stiffening of muscles and joints, rippling of the skin, and decreased elasticity of lung tissues and arterial blood vessels. Without a doubt, the transfer of bio-information through soft connective tissue decreases as well, and the occurrences of diseases at advanced age may well be linked to a decrease in communication between cells and body tissues.

Cell Membrane Permeability

All cells (and all organelles within cells) are surrounded by membranes. A membrane consists of two layers of molecules situated opposite of one another and consisting of an essential fatty acid on one end, and a sulfur containing amino acid on the other end. The amino acids are interconnected in such a manner that they form a surface into which the proteins and other membrane constituents are inserted and secured. These proteins are necessary for the transport through the cell membrane of many types of nutrients and waste materials.

Sulfur bridges form flexible connections between the cells and the surrounding connective tissues. This allows the cells to retain their elasticity. When sulfur is in short supply, the cell wall hardens, and the cells lose their elasticity. The transport proteins of the membrane become locked, and the membranes become less permeable. This results in a reduced transport of oxygen and nutrients into the cells as well as reduced excretion of waste products from within the cells. This causes a shortage of oxygen and nutrients, and an accumulation of toxic metabolic waste products inside the cells. Reduced vitality and eventually degenerative diseases are the result.

Recent insight in free radical pathology has shown that the thiol (-SH) groups of sulfur containing amino acids can protect cell membrane protein chains from oxidation. But that is not all. Studies by Dr. Johanna Budwig have demonstrated that sulfur containing amino acids in cell membranes resonate with the double connections of the fatty acids, resulting in the release of electrons. Electron clouds are formed, which can move along the fatty acid chains. In this manner, electrical currents evolve which form the basis of all electrical energy in the body. This energy can be measured in heartbeat, nerve stimulations, and muscle contractions; in short, in all chemical and electrical reactions which make life possible.


Enzymes are proteins that control all-important life functions. For example, they regulate all metabolic processes in our bodies. Sulfur bridges are responsible for the spatial structure of enzymes. Without sulfur bridges, enzymes would lack biological activity due to deviations in their spatial structure. Shortages in sulfur cause reduced production of biologically active enzymes, which results in a reduction of many metabolic processes. Sulfur is important for the cellular energy production in which glucose is metabolized under the release of energy.

Most important, sulfur plays a role in the electron transport system, as part of iron/sulfur proteins in mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell. Furthermore, sulfur participates in the vitamin-B Thiamine (B1) en Biotin. These vitamins are essential for converting carbohydrates into energy, by burning glucose. Insulin is a hormone excreted by the pancreas, and mainly functions to regulate the blood sugar level. Insulin therefore plays an important role in carbohydrate metabolism. Each insulin molecule consists of two amino acid chains, connected to one another by sulfur bridges (Figure 4). These sulfur bridges are very important for the proper functioning of insulin. Without these bridges, the hormone loses its biological activity.


Preferred Dietary Source of Sulfur

Previous scientific consensus held that in humans, the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine are the most important sources of sulfur. However, since the discovery of the earth’s sulfur cycle, this theory is increasingly brought into question (3). Several hundred million years ago, algae in the oceans started producing simple organic sulfur compounds, which led to the formation of MSM. This biologically active sulfur was probably the most important source of sulfur for all subsequently developing life forms. This gives credence to the hypothesis that higher forms of life most likely are genetically preprogrammed to use MSM as a primary source of sulfur. This theory is further enhanced by the discovery that MSM can be ingested by all organisms investigated so far in almost unlimited quantities without causing any toxic effects. The same cannot be said about the sulfur containing amino acids methionine en cysteine, which can be consumed in small quantities, but which can cause undesired toxic responses in larger doses (3). Experiments using MSM containing radiolabeled sulfur (35S) have shown that following ingestion, MSM releases its sulfur to form collagen and keratin, the basic ingredients of hair and nails, as well as the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, along with serum proteins (8, 11). It appears abundantly clear that the importance of MSM as a source of sulfur has been grossly underestimated. The reason for this is likely in large part due to the realities of the modern food industry, which, as earlier explained, causes to the loss of the majority of naturally present MSM. It is therefore for good reason that MSM is referred to as “The Forgotten Nutrient” (6).

Protection of the Mucosa

Additional experiments with MSM containing radiolabeled sulfur demonstrated that after ingestion, MSM is bound to the mucosa. Apparently, MSM is binding to receptor sites at the mucous membrane surface in the intestinal and urogenital tracts and the respiratory system. By doing so, it presents a blocking interface between host and environment (4). There are many health-benefitting implications to such natural interactions. Allergens and parasites cannot bind to the mucosa, toxins are oxidized, and free radicals are eliminated.


Deficiencies in biological sulfur can result in the less optimal functioning of each cell, tissue and organ in the body. Inorganic sulfur is poorly assimilated. Organic, biologically active sulfur is therefore extremely important for the health of every living organism. MSM is the natural source of biological sulfur to which we are adapted through our evolution. Use of MSM has the following benefits:

Chronic Pain

Perhaps the most remarkable discovery regarding MSM is that it is an effective pain killer. MSM works for many types of chronic pain. In March 1999, Stanley W. Jacob, M.D., and Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., published “The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain”. Their book was based on their experience as medical doctors and MSM researchers. Dr. Jacob is the head of the DMSO Pain Clinic in Portland, OR, and a Professor at the Oregon Health Sciences University, and Dr. Lawrence was the founder of the International Association for the Study of Pain and the American Association for the Study of Headaches. Combined, they have over 20 years of experience with fighting pain with MSM. They concluded that of more than 18,000 patients that suffered from chronic pain, about 70% experienced benefits from the use of MSM, finding that pain either diminished or disappeared altogether.

The types of pain which have been treated successfully with MSM include:

Personal injury due to accidents, burns, etc.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
Lower back pains
Headaches, migraines
Muscle aches
Tennis elbows and other sports injuries
Carpal Syndrome
RSI (Repititive Strain Injury)
Scars due to burns, operations, accidents, etc.

The way MSM impacts pain is currently explained by the following mechanisms:
MSM is a natural analgetic: it blocks the transfer of pain impulses through nerve fibers (C-fibers).
MSM blocks inflammations and inflammatory processes. MSM enhances the activity of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the body.
MSM improves the permeability of cell membranes. This improves the uptake of nutrients and many vitamins and the elimination of waste products and excess cellular fluids.
MSM dilates bloood vessels, enhancing the blood circulation. This, too, helps to eliminate waste products from the body, which speeds up healing.
MSM is a muscle relaxant. This is an important and often overlooked benefit of MSM. Many chronic pains are aggrevated by chronic muscle tension in the body.
MSM aids the natural defense mechanisms in the body by regulating the prostaglandin metabolism, and regulates the formation of anitbodies and immune complexes.

MSM slows down and restores crosslinking in collagen. Crosslinking in collagen is a natural process in scar formation, causing hard and often painful scar tissues. This may lead to chronic pain, particularly in the case of burn scars, in which large surface areas may be affected. MSM heals scar tissue, making the skin more flexible. People who have treated burn scars with a MSM ointment and seen their scars almost disappear, and have eliminated associated pains, form dramatic examples of MSM’s potency in this regard.

Synergetic Effect

MSM is considered a potentiator of most vitamins and other nutrients, such as vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, all B- vitamins, vitamin A, D en E, amino acids, selenium, calcium, magnesium en many others. MSM improves the cellular uptake of these nutrients, and prolongs their lives (5, 6, 8). The body can better utilize the nutrients, and taking dietary supplements is more efficient. Additionally, fewer dietary supplements need to be taken.


MSM is a strong antioxidant, capable of binding and inactivating free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules and atoms with unpaired electrons, which, by force of nature, attract electrons from their surrounding environment. Free radicals are not all harmful; actually, life without free radicals is impossible. They are needed for cellular energy production. The liver produces free radicals during the breakdown of harmful substances, and the body’s immune system uses free radicals to kill viruses and bacteria. The body houses antioxidants that bind and deactivate free radicals. The normal production of free radicals in a healthy human is therefore harmless. However, the overproduction of free radicals can be very harmful. They can begin a chain reaction that can eventually cause great harm to cell membranes and chromosomes. Overproduction of free radicals is caused by physical and mental stress, malnutrition, air pollution, heavy metals and organic contaminants in drinking water and food, radiation and cigarette smoke. In such cases the body needs extra antioxidants from food. MSM is such an antioxidant.

As a major sulfur donor, MSM is essential for the proper functioning of the body’s anti oxidation system. When neutralizing free radicals, the body uses a variety of antioxidant enzymes that contain sulfuric amino acids. These derive their structure and biological activity from sulfur bonds (S-S). MSM provides the sulfur for the amino sulfur acids methionine, cysteine and taurine, which are considered powerful antioxidants. When split off, the thiol (-SH) groups of these amino acids are capable of neutralizing free radicals (17). Sulfur is also necessary for the formation of what is considered the most powerful nutritional antioxidant, glutathion (5). And as stated before, MSM potentiates the effect of well known nutritional antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, selenium, and others. (5, 7). MSM itself also appears to act as an antioxidant (7). The mucosa contains a carbon-sulfur bond cleaving enzyme, termed C-S lyase. Studies suggest that when bound to the mucosa, cleavage of MSM provides an electron deficient group CH3SO2 which can neutralize free radicals (4).


MSM dissolves in many organic and inorganic compounds (1). Bound to the mucosa and split into an electron deficient group CH3SO2., MSM reacts with toxins, affects inactivation and speeds excretion (4). Furthermore, MSM enhances the permeability of cell membranes, making it easier for nutrients to be taken up by the cells, and waste products to be eliminated. Practically speaking, MSM drastically increases the ability of cells to excrete toxic waste products. Many health practitioners working with MSM will state that it is the most powerful detoxifying nutraceutical or pharmaceutical agent they have ever worked with.

Neurological Diseases

The brain is extremely sensitive to the effects of toxic materials such as heavy metals and organic compounds. Many of these compounds tend to accumulate in nerve cells where they can cause severe oxidative damage. Neurological disturbances may be the result. MSM is one of the few antioxidants which can easily pass the blood-brain barrier. It prevents and repairs oxidative damage and restores cell membrane elasticity and permeability. This allows the nerve cells to start excreting waste products.

The powerful action of MSM is illustrated in the following example. An older woman suffered from poisoning caused by exposure to aluminum. This heavy metal had accumulated in her brain and caused severe neurological damage. The woman had been confined to her bed for six years, unable to communicate with her surroundings. All this time she had not spoken a word. Medical doctors could no longer help her and had given up on her. She was completely dependent on her husband who took complete care of her needs. A natural health care practitioner advised two teaspoons of MSM (about 15 grams) daily. The MSM passed the blood brain barrier, and restored the permeability of the brain cell membranes, allowing her brain cells to purge the heavy metal poisons. Two weeks later, the orthomolecular physician prescribed a warm bath to help her eliminate the released poisons through the skin. After twenty minutes in this bath, the woman suddenly smiled and said “Gee, I feel much better now.” These were the first words she had spoken in years. Several months later, the woman was capable of leading a normal life again (7).


MSM alleviates the symptoms of a large number of allergies, including food allergies, contact allergies, inhalation allergies, and others. The major anti-allergic characteristic of MSM caused by its ability to bind to the mucosa and present a natural blocking interface between hosts and allergens. Besides, MSM alleviates allergies through detoxification and elimination of free radicals, and improvement of cell permeability. A direct correlation between concentration of MSM used and resistance to allergens has been established. Several authors have noted that MSM works as a histamine inhibitor at least as well as the traditional antihistamines, without the negative side effects (5, 6, 7).

Autoimmune Diseases

MSM very effectively fights inflammations resulting from autoimmune reactions (in which the body’s immune system turns on itself). For example, people who suffer from arthritis often benefit greatly from MSM. Several studies have shown that supplementation of MSM significantly reduces joint degeneration and inflammation. In one study, 24 people with symptomatic osteoarthritis were treated with either a regular (NSAID) drug, or with 3 grams of MSM daily. After one month, both groups noted equal improvements in pain and stiffness( 6). In another experiment, mice with a predisposition to rheumatoid arthritis-like joint lesions were studied. Researchers found that two-month old mice who were given water containing a 3% solution of MSM for a period of three months suffered no degeneration of articular cartilage. In the control group of mice receiving only tap water, 50% of the animals were found to have focal degeneration of articular cartilage. Nearly all (95%) of the control animals had inflammatory reaction in the synovial tissues, compared to less severe inflammatory reaction in 50% of the MSM group (8, 10). The beneficial effect of MSM is due in part to its ability to improve cell permeability, allowing harmful substances (lactic acid, toxins) to flow out while permitting nutrients to flow in, thereby preventing a pressure buildup in cells that causes inflammation in the joints (5).

Mice prone to the development of Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Disease (ALD) were fed, beginning at the age of one month, a diet that included a 3% solution of MSM as drinking water. The mean life span of the control group was 5.5 months, whereas the mean life span of the MSM group was extended to more than 10 months of age. The MSM group showed decreased anti-nuclear antibody responses and significant diminution of lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly and anemia development, thus suggesting that MSM provided significant protection against the development of the autoimmune disease ALD (12). Other experiments were conducted on mice bred for their propensity to acquire the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). These experiments showed MSM to have a protective effect both before and after the onset of the disease. Mice that were maintained on a diet including 3% MSM in their drinking water from the age one month suffered lower death and liver damage rates than control groups drinking only tap water. After seven months, 30% of the control group had died, while all the MSM mice were still alive. Also, when mice seven months old and already showing signs of advanced lupus were fed the MSM diet, 62% of the animals were still alive after nine months, compared to 14% for the control group that received only tap water (8).


Several experiments have shown that oral administration of MSM can protect rats against the onset of cancer. In one study, rats specially bred to be susceptible to breast cancer when given certain carcinogenic compounds were fed a diet containing MSM for a period of eight days. The control group did not receive MSM. Following this preliminary period, all rats were given oral doses of cancer-causing agents. There was no statistical difference in the number of tumors developing in the two groups. However, the MSM diet rats developed their first tumors some 100 days later than the control rats, and these tumors became cancerous some 130 days later than those in the control group. Considering a two-year average life expectancy of rats, 100 days are the equivalent of about ten years in human life (8).

In another experiment, rats received MSM as 1% solution in their drinking water throughout the duration of the study. The control group received only tap water. One week after the start of the dietary regimen, all rats were injected with dimethylhydrazine, a chemical that induces colon cancer. Over the nine months that the experiment was conducted, the number of bowel tumors occurring in the rats was statistically the same for the two groups. However, the time of appearance of the first bowel tumors was considerably longer in the MSM treated rats. The researchers concluded that MSM significantly lengthens the time of tumor onset compared to the controls (8).


One of the most amazing discoveries on MSM is its anti-parasitic action against Giardia, Trichomonas, roundworms, nematodes, Enterobius and other intestinal worms (5). Animal studies include laboratory mice determined to have pin worms (Enterobius) by fecal cast examination. They were given commercial food and drinking water, both containing 2% MSM by weight. After 17 days, fecal examination indicated the feces were free of worms and eggs. The blood level of MSM in one animal examined exceeded 30 ppm or mg/kg (3). Human studies include a man with confirmed Giardia lamblia, apparently contacted from contaminated water in a primitive area. He was given 500 mg MSM three times a day for 14 days. By the eighth day he was free of symptoms, and two stool specimens collected one week later were free of the organism (3). In another study, Trichomonas vaginalis was successfully treated by oral dosage of 1 gram MSM a day, and a daily topical application of 5% aqueous MSM for one week (3).

The major antiparasitic property of MSM stems from its ability to bind to the mucosa and present a natural blocking interface between hosts and parasites. It’s as though MSM puts down a coating on the mucosa, which parasites find impenetrable and can’t cling to. Unable to stick, the parasites are simply flushed out of the body (5, 9). In vitro research has shown the antiparasitic, antifungal and antibacterial action of MSM concentrations. MSM concentrations of 1 mg/mL and less demonstrated no significant inhibition of Giardia lamblia. However, at 20 mg/mL concentrations it was strongly inhibitory, and concentrations above 40 mg/mL promptly killed the organism. According to Dr. Herschler, one can safely administer up to 1-2 grams of MSM per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis. One therefore builds a safely tolerated blood level up to 4000 ppm (mg/kg), a level highly toxic to many infective organisms yet harmless to the host (3).

A growing number of natural physicians are expressing concerns about parasites. It is becoming increasingly clear that they can be a continuous source of poisoning which can spread throughout the body and affect the immune system. It is an intriguing thought that MSM may be nature’s original means of protecting us against parasites.


The sulfur-containing B vitamin biotin is a critical part of glucokinase, the enzyme involved in the utilization of the sugar glucose. Sulfur is also a component of insulin, the protein hormone secreted by the pancreas that is essential to carbohydrate metabolism. Lack of nutritional sulfur in the diet can result in low production of biologically active insulin. Studies indicate that MSM improves cellular glucose uptake by improving cell permeability, thus balancing blood sugar level and returning the pancreas to normal functioning (5).

Muscle Soreness and Cramps

Especially in combination with vitamin C, MSM has demonstrated remarkable ability to reduce or eliminate the incidence of muscle soreness, leg and back cramps. MSM is particularly successful with geriatric patients who have such cramps during the night or after long periods of inactivity. Many people with stiff muscles and joints have reported a marked improvement after using MSM for some time. Several cases have been reported of people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, who have been cured by using MSM. An elderly woman was slated to have an operation performed on both wrists. On the advice of the author she started using MSM. A month later her symptoms had all but disappeared, and the operation was no longer necessary.

Athletes who compete vigorously can learn from trainers of million-dollar racehorses. For many years and with great success, trainers administered MSM to their prize horses before a race to prevent muscle soreness, and afterwards to lessen the risk of cramping and improve physical recovery (4). The physical fatigue syndrome following intense athletic activity in competitive sports, which usually persist for 8-10 days in athletes, was gone in 2-3 days in individuals who had ingested 1-2 gram MSM per day for the preceding six months (3)

Constipation and Stomach Acidity

One study revealed that at least 75% of individuals taking one or more antacids or H2 histamine receptor antagonists against stomach acidity were able to sharply reduce or eliminate such medication within a week of initiating MSM as a dietary supplement. In another study, twenty-one subjects with a history of constipation were given 500 mg daily doses of MSM together with 1 gram of ascorbic acid. All subjects with abnormal colon function returned to normal and remained normal while MSM was part of their diet (5). These studies indicate that MSM often gives more relief from stomach acidity and constipation than commonly prescribed medication. Many people have reported that one of the most exciting and rewarding benefits of taking MSM is the prompt and continued relief from stomach acidity and constipation problems (7).

Lung Dysfunction

MSM allows the body to more effectively take up oxygen. In the first place, it improves the elasticity of the lung cells and the permeability of long cell membranes, allowing more air to be breathed and oxygen to pass through the membranes into the blood stream. Secondly, MSM prevents and corrects the clotting of red blood cells, allowing the blood to absorb more oxygen. Moreover, by improving the cell membrane permeability, cells throughout the body can take up more oxygen from the blood, and hence produce more energy. People suffering from lung dysfunctions may benefit greatly from treatment with MSM. In one study, seven human subjects with respiratory deficiency were given MSM in amounts ranging from 250 – 1.500 mg/day. Five had emphysema, and two had lung tumors with additional function impairment due to pleural fluid accumulation. Both were on radiation chemotherapy prior to including MSM in their diet, but without apparent benefit. Before and during the test period, the five subjects with emphysema walked a measured distance compatible with their physical capabilities. Within four weeks of beginning the ingestion of MSM, all emphysema sufferers had at least doubled their ‘comfortable’ walking distance. The two subjects with lung tumors were assessed by attending physicians and nurses as more alert and with a better attitude than before the test. Most strikingly however, the lung fluid had disappeared during the first months of the test period (3).


Many people using MSM have reported feeling better and stronger and capable of increased endurance. During a test with 14 persons using MSM for periods from seven months to over one year, none of them became ill (3). One stress study involved two groups of 25 goldfish, which were removed from a large aquarium and placed in two identical, small aquariums. One group was fed ordinary goldfish food, and the other group received the same food with 2% by weight of MSM added. Movement confinement, temperature changes and marginal oxygenation stressed the fish in both aquariums equally. After five days, only one fish of the MSM group had died, against 11 (almost 50%) of the control group (3).

It is a common practice in intensive cattle breeding to add antibiotics to animal feed in order to promote growth and prevent the outbreak of stress-related diseases. Animal products such as meat, milk and eggs contain residues of antibiotics, which pass into the consumer. The abundant usage of antibiotics is largely responsible for the creation of resistent bacteria strains. Well known examples are the “hospital bacterium” MRSA (meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and the VRE’s (vancomycin-resistant enterococci). Today, increasing resistance of bacteria is considered one of the major threats to human health. It is an intriguing thought that adding MSM to animal feed might reduce stress and improve animal health to a level where the usage of antibiotics can be strongly reduced.


Sulfur is called nature’s “beauty mineral” because it keeps skin smooth and youthful and hair glossy. Sulfur is necessary for the production of collagen and keratin, proteins necessary for the health and maintenance of skin, nails and hair (6). Several experiments have shown that several dermatological disorders, including those that are allergy-related, respond favorably to a diet supplemented by MSM. Oral dosages of MSM have shown to be effective against acne, Rosaceae, and dry, scaly or itching skin(3). When used topically in the form of an ointment or lotion, MSM is helpful in treating skin disorders including acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, dandruff, scabies, diaper rash and certain fungal infections (1, 6). Scars resulting from operations and from burns also respond well to topical application. New scars can heal so perfectly that they are almost invisible. Old scars, too, can improve markedly.

MSM is intended for everyone who appreciates good health. Sport enthusiasts and athletes can use it to improve their performance and speed up recovery after workouts. People with degenerative diseases can use it to drastically improve their health and quality of life.

MSM is not a cure-all for solving every health problem. It is a food supplement that people in pre-modern societies received through their diets. Most people today, however, suffer from chronic MSM deficiencies, due to its inability to endure the realities of the modern food and drink industry. MSM gives the body the tools it needs to better cure itself and maintain its vitality. MSM cannot do this by itself. The basis for good health is maintaining healthy living conditions, including a healthy and balanced diet, good lifestyle choices, and exercise.

The optimal dosage depends on the nature and intensity of the complaints. In most cases, it is sufficient to take an initial dose of three 1-gram tablets twice daily. Children ten and under should take a tablet twice daily, while those between ten and eighteen should take two tablets twice daily. After several months the adult dosage can be reduced to two tablets twice daily, though maintaining a higher dose certainly won’t hurt. People with serious ailments have been shown to benefit from higher dosages, up to four 1-gram tablets three times daily. Such a high dosage may be advised to fight parasital infections. Case studies have been reported in which patients did not show noticeable improvement until they received a daily dosage of 30 grams (6). Such extreme dosages are not generally recommended for most people, although no negative effects were reported (3,6).

People using MSM should make all changes to their dosage gradually. They should not increase their dose as long as detoxification symptoms persist. Although uncommon, these symptoms may include nausea and headaches (see below). MSM is best taken with a glass of water one half hour prior to eating. As it tends to stimulate energy levels, it is generally advisable not to take it prior to bed.


MSM is similar in toxicity to water. When MSM was administered to human volunteers, no toxic effects were observed at intake levels of 1 gram per kg of body weight per day for 30 days. Intravenous injections of 0.5 grams per kg body weight daily for five days a week produced no measurable toxicity in human subjects. The lethal dose (LD50) of MSM for mice is more than 20 g/kg body weight; this means that the average lethal dose of MSM for humans is more than one and a half kilograms; about six times the lethal dose of table salt. MSM has been widely tested as a food ingredient without any reports of allergic reactions. An unpublished Oregon Health Sciences University study of the long-term toxicity of MSM over a period of six months showed no toxic effects. More than 12,000 patients were treated with MSM at levels above two grams daily, without toxicity (8).


In practice, most people who use MSM notice very little at the onset, or may experience slight detoxification symptoms. These symptoms may include mild forms of diarrhea, skin rash, headache and fatigue. After one week, these symptoms usually disappear. Fewer than 20% of users of MSM may feel moderately sick in the first few days of using MSM. Generally, the stronger the symptoms are, the more toxins had been stored in the body, and the more MSM was needed for its purification. If more moderate symptoms of detoxification are experienced, it may be advisable to reduce the dosage of MSM, and to gradually rebuild it once the symptoms disappear. source

Skin and hair care

Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral that is found mostly near hot springs and volcanic craters. It has a distinct “rotten egg” smell, caused by sulfur dioxide gas escaping into the air. As a supplement, sulfur is available in two forms: dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). About 15% of DMSO breaks down into MSM in the body. Both have been touted as treatments for pain.

MSM occurs naturally in some plants, such as horsetail; fruits and vegetables; some grains; and milk. MSM is important in joint health and helps form connective tissue — cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. It may also slow the nerve impulses that transmit pain signals, reducing pain.

DMSO is a chemical byproduct of papermaking and is used as an industrial solvent, as well as for medicine. The Food and Drug Administration has approved DMSO for intravesical use. That means it is instilled in the bladder by a doctor to treat interstitial cystitis. DMSO is also used in creams and taken by mouth for pain and other conditions. Unlike MSM, DMSO is absorbed through the skin.

Never use industrial-grade DMSO as a supplement, because it may contain dangerous impurities. You should talk to your doctor before either taking DMSO internally or applying it to your skin.

Mud baths containing sulfur, often called balneotherapy, can help treat skin disorders and arthritis. Balneotherapy is one of the oldest forms of pain relief for people with arthritis. The term “balneo” comes from the Latin word for bath and means soaking in thermal or mineral waters. Some people claim these baths are useful for allergies and respiratory problems, but there is no scientific evidence for these uses.

People also apply sulfur products to the skin to treat acne and other skin conditions.

Many — but not all — studies suggest there may be a connection between sulfur gases in the environment and the rise in allergy and respiratory illnesses, particularly asthma.

Skin Disorders

Sulfur baths, and other forms of sulfur applied to the skin, seem to help treat psoriasis, eczema, dandruff, folliculitis (infected hair follicles), warts, and pityriasis versicolor, a long-lasting skin disorder characterized by patches of skin that are a different color from the usual skin tone.


  • Balneotherapy — Well-designed studies, most conducted in Israel, suggest that balneotherapy can help treat several different kinds of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis. People who took sulfur baths and other spa therapies improved strength, had less morning stiffness, had better walking ability, and less inflammation, swelling, and pain in joints, particularly in the neck and back. Mud packs and Dead Sea salts dissolved in a regular bath tub also improved symptoms of arthritis, but not as effectively as soaking in the Dead Sea itself.
  • MSM — MSM is a popular supplement for treating the pain of arthritis, including both OA and RA. But there is not much scientific evidence that it works. One preliminary study suggested that 6,000 mg of MSM did improve pain and function without side effects in people with OA of the knee. Some preparations combine MSM with glucosamine to treat OA. One study suggests that approach might help, but more research is needed to be sure.
  • DMSO — Several studies suggest that DMSO creams may reduce pain and swelling in people with RA and OA, but not all studies agree. Some find that DMSO is no better than placebo. More research is needed.

Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)

One preliminary study showed found that taking 2,600 mg of MSM per day for 30 days reduced symptoms of seasonal allergies. But more and larger studies are needed to see whether there is any real effect.


Topical DMSO has been proposed as a treatment to relieve pain and inflammation of shingles (herpes zoster). Some evidence suggests it may reduce the number of lesions and lower inflammation, but more studies are needed.

Interstitial Cystitis

Although research is limited, the FDA has approved DMSO to treat interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder inflammation that causes frequent and nighttime urination, as well as pain. When DMSO is used to treat interstitial cystitis, a doctor inserts a liquid solution of DMSO directly into the bladder. General anesthesia may be needed because the procedure can be painful and may cause bladder spasms.


Several case reports suggest that DMSO, applied in creams or taken by mouth, may help treat amyloidosis, a condition where protein builds up in the body’s organs and damages them. However, because the condition is rare, there are no scientific studies about DMSO and amyloidosis. Take DMSO, or apply it in creams, only with your doctor’s supervision.

Dietary Sources

MSM is found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and legumes. Other good sources include garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, and wheat germ.

Available Forms

Sulfur supplements are available in two main forms: dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).

Healthy people who eat a well-balanced diet don’t usually need extra sulfur. People who follow a vegan diet, however, may be at risk for sulfur deficiency.

Ointments, creams, lotions, and dusting powders containing sulfur are available to treat skin rashes. Natural sulfur baths — the kind usually found at hot springs — may help ease pain associated with arthritis.

How to Take It


Don’t give sulfur to a child.


There is no recommended dietary allowance for sulfur. Most people get all they need from their diet.

  • Arthritis: Studies have used a dose by mouth of 500 – 3,000 mg MSM per day; or topical doses of a cream or gel with 25% DMSO applied 1 – 3 times per day
  • Hayfever: One study used 2,600 mg per day.
  • Amyloidosis: Case reports have used a dose by mouth of 7 – 15 g DMSO per day; or, topical doses of 50 – 100% DMSO applied 2 times per week.


Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Researchers believe MSM is safe. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking large doses of this or any other supplement.

Do not take DMSO internally except under your doctor’s supervision. Side effects of taking DMSO internally include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation. Used topically, DMSO can cause skin irritation.

If you have diabetes, asthma or liver, kidney or heart conditions, do not use DMSO. Never take industrial-grade DMSO.

DMSO should not be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Possible Interactions

There are no reports to suggest that MSM interacts with any conventional medications.

However, DMSO may interact with a number of other medications. Talk to your doctor before using DMSO.

Supporting Research

Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, Schiller RN. A multi-centered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8(2):167-73.

Brien S, Prescott P, Lewith G. Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2009 May 27. [Epub ahead of print].

D’Amato G, Liccardi G, D’Amato M. Environmental risk factors (outdoor air pollution and climatic changes) and increased trend of respiratory allergy. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol.2000;10(3):123-128.

Elkayam O, Ophir J, Brener S, Paran D, Wigler I, Efron D, Even-Paz Z, Politi Y, Yaron M. Immediate and delayed effects of treatment at the Dead Sea in patients with psoriatic arthritis. Rheumatol Int. 2000;19(3):77-82.

Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94.

Moldwin RM, Evans RJ, Stanford EJ, Rosenberg MT. Rational approaches to the treatment of patients with interstitial cystitis. Urology. 2007 Apr;69(4 Suppl):73-81. Review.

Pain. MSM: does it work? Harv Health Lett. 2000;25(10):7.

Parcell S. Sulfur in human nutrition and applications in medicine. Altern Med Rev.2002;7(1):22-44.

Ring J, Eberlein-Koenig B, Behrendt H. Environmental pollution and allergy. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2001;87(6 Suppl 3):2-6.

Simon LS, Grierson LM, Naseer Z, et al. Efficacy and safety of topical diclofenac containing dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) compared with those of topical placebo, DMSO vehicle and oral diclofenac for knee osteoarthritis. Pain. 2009;143:238-45.

Theoharides TC. Treatment approaches for painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis.Drugs. 2007;67(2):215-35. Review.

Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combinations. Clin Drug Invest. 2004;24:353-63.

Verhagen AP, de Vet HC, de BIE RA, Kessels AG, Boers M, Knipschild PG. Balneotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 4, 2000. Oxford: Update Software.

von Mutius E. The environmental predictors of allergic disease. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2000;105(1 Pt 1):9-19.

Zhou J, Liu JH, Jin Y, Ouyang XL, Yang LG. Protective effects of DMSO on function of lyphilized human platelets. Zhongguo Shi Yan Xue Ye Xue Za Zhi. 2007;15(6):1284-8.


The detoxification effect

Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body, after calcium and phosphorous. It’s an important mineral element that you get almost wholly through dietary proteins, yet it’s been over 20 years since the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) issued its last update on recommended daily allowances (RDA) for it.

In a study examining critical elements about how sulfur works in the body, researchers say the importance of this mineral may be underestimated, and that it’s possible that we may not be getting enough of it.

The Importance of Sulfur and the detoxification effect

Close to half of the sulfur in your body can be found in your muscles, skin and bones, but it does much more than benefit just these three areas. It plays important roles in many bodily systems.

Sulfur bonds are required for proteins to maintain their shape, and these bonds determine the biological activity of the proteins. For example, as explained in the featured MSM newsletter, hair and nails consists of a tough protein called keratin, which is high in sulfur, whereas connective tissue and cartilage contain proteins with flexible sulfur bonds, giving the structure its flexibility. With age, the flexible tissues in your body tend to lose their elasticity, leading to sagging and wrinkling of skin, stiff muscles and painful joints.

A shortage of sulfur likely contributes to these age-related problems.

In addition to bonding proteins, sulfur is also required for the proper structure and biological activity of enzymes. If you don’t have sufficient amounts of sulfur in your body the enzymes cannot function properly, which can cascade into a number of health problems as without biologically active enzymes, your metabolic processes cannot function properly.

Sulfur also plays an important role in:

Your body’s electron transport system, as part of iron/sulfur proteins in mitochondria, the energy factories of your cells
Vitamin-B thiamine (B1) and biotin conversion, which in turn are essential for converting carbohydrates into energy
Synthesizing important metabolic intermediates, such as glutathione
Proper insulin function. The insulin molecule consists of two amino acid chains connected to each other by sulfur bridges, without which the insulin cannot perform its biological activity
The featured study looked at a broad scope of overlapping metabolic pathways in order to determine which ones may be affected by insufficient intake of dietary sulfur. They also evaluated the modes of action of a variety of sulfur-containing dietary supplements, including chondroitin and glucosamine, commonly used to improve joint health.

According to the authors:

“Sulfur amino acids contribute substantially to the maintenance and integrity of the cellular systems by influencing cellular redox state and the capacity to detoxify toxic compounds, free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

… Sulfur containing metabolites, of which glutathione is a key exponent, merge in their functioning with many other compounds that play a major role in mechanisms which are receiving tremendous interests as parts of conventional and complementary medical care. These include the n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals such as Selenium, Zinc, Copper and Magnesium, vitamins E and C, antioxidants such as the proanthocyanidins and lipoic acid, many of which are involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins and in the antioxidant cascade.

More and more evidence is accumulating and focusing on the cooperative role that glutathione and other sulfur metabolites play in the homeostatic control of these fundamental mechanisms.”

Are You Getting Enough Sulfur in Your Diet?

As stated in the featured research, only two of the 20 amino acids normally present in foods contain sulfur:

Methionine, which cannot be synthesized by your body and must be supplied through diet, and
Cysteine, which is synthesized by your body but requires a steady supply of dietary sulfur in order to do so
Neither of these are stored in your body. Rather, “any dietary excess is readily oxidized to sulphate, excreted in the urine (or reabsorbed depending on dietary levels) or stored in the form of glutathione (GSH),” according to the researchers. (Glutathione is comprised of three amino acids: cysteine, glutamate, and glycine, and is your body’s most potent antioxidant, which also keeps all other antioxidants performing at peak levels.)


“The availability of cysteine appears to be the rate limiting factor for synthesis of glutathione (GSH).

GSH values are subnormal in a large number of wasting diseases and following certain medications leading frequently to poor survival. By supplying sulfur amino acids (SAA) many of these changes can be reversed.

In the brain, which is usually the most spared organ during nutrient deficiencies, GSH concentration declines in order to maintain adequate levels of cysteine. This loss of GSH impairs antioxidant defences… Cartilage, less essential for survival, may not fare well under conditions of sulfur deprivation, explaining why dietary supplements containing sulfur (chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane), etc.) may be of benefit in the treatment of joint diseases.”

In conclusion, they state that:

“Out of this study came information that suggested that a significant proportion of the population that included disproportionally the aged, may not be receiving sufficient sulfur and that these dietary supplements, were very likely exhibiting their pharmacological actions by supplying inorganic sulfur.”

Dietary Sources of Sulfur

The best and most ideal way to obtain sulfur is through your diet. Sulfur is derived almost exclusively from dietary protein, such as fish and high-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry. Meat and fish are considered “complete” as they contain all the sulfur-containing amino acids you need to produce new protein. Needless to say, those who abstain from animal protein are placing themselves at far greater risk of sulfur deficiency.

Other dietary sources that contain small amounts of sulfur include: read more

Key source of sulfur


Sulfur is an interesting nonmetallic element that is found mainly as part of larger compounds. It is not discussed much in nutrition books, mainly because it has not been thought to be essential—that is, sulfur deficiency does not cause any visible problems.

Sulfur represents about 0.25 percent of our total body weight, similar to potassium. The body contains approximately 140 grams of sulfur-mainly in the proteins, although it is distributed in small amounts in all cells and tissues. Sulfur has a characteristic odor that can be smelled when hair or sheep’s wool is burned. Keratin, present in the skin, hair, and nails, is particularly high in the amino acid cystine, which is found in sulfur. The sulfur-sulfur bond in keratin gives it greater strength.

Sulfur is present in four amino acids: methionine, an essential amino acid; the nonessential cystine and cysteine, which can be made from methionine; and taurine, which is not part of body tissues but does help produce bile acid for digestion. Sulfur is also present in two B vitamins, thiamine and biotin; interestingly, thiamine is important to skin and biotin to hair. Sulfur is also available as various sulfates or sulfides. But overall, sulfur is most important as part of protein.

Sulfur has been used commonly since the early 1800s. Grandma’s “spring tonic” consisted mainly of sulfur and molasses. This also acted as a laxative. Sulfur has been known as the “beauty mineral” because it helps the complexion and skin stay clear and youthful. The hydrogen sulfide gas in onions is what causes tearing. This gas can also be made by intestinal bacteria and is absorbed by the body or released as gas with a characteristic odor.

Sulfur is absorbed from the small intestine primarily as the four sulfur-containing amino acids or from sulfates in water or fruits and vegetables. It is thought that elemental sulfur is not used by the human organism. Sulfur is stored in all body cells, especially the skin, hair, and nails. Excess amounts are eliminated through the urine or in the feces.

Sources: As part of four amino acids, sulfur is readily available in protein foods-meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, and legumes are all good sources. Egg yolks are one of the better sources of sulfur. Other foods that contain this somewhat smelly mineral are onions, garlic, cabbage, brussels sprouts, and turnips. Nuts have some, as do kale, lettuce, kelp and other seaweed, and raspberries. Complete vegetarians (those who eat no eggs or milk) and people on low-protein diets may not get sufficient amounts of sulfur; the resulting sulfur deficiency is difficult to differentiate clinically from protein deficiency, which is of much greater concern.

Functions: As part of four amino acids, sulfur performs a number of functions in enzyme reactions and protein synthesis. It is necessary for formation of collagen, the protein found in connective tissue in our bodies. Sulfur is also present in keratin, which is necessary for the maintenance of the skin, hair, and nails, helping to give strength, shape, and hardness to these protein tissues. Sulfur is also present in the fur and feathers of other animals. The cystine in hair gives off the sulfur smell when it is burned. Sulfur, as cystine and methionine, is part of other important body chemicals: insulin, which helps regulate carbohydrate metabolism, and heparin, an anticoagulant. Taurine is found in bile acids, used in digestion. The sulfur-containing amino acids help form other substances as well, such as biotin, coenzyme A, lipoic acid, and glutathione. The mucopoly-saccharides may contain chondroitin sulfate, which is important to joint tissues.

Sulfur is important to cellular respiration, as it is needed in the oxidation-reduction reactions that help the cells utilize oxygen, which aids brain function and all cell activity. These reactions are dependent on cysteine, which also helps the liver produce bile secretions and eliminate other toxins. L-cysteine is thought to generally help body detoxification mechanisms through the tripeptide compound, glutathione.

Uses: In its elemental form, sulfur was used for many disorders during the nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, the focus is more on the sulfur-containing amino acids, used internally; or as elemental sulfur-containing ointments used for skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Psoriasis has been treated with oral sulfur along with zinc. Other problems of the skin or hair have been treated with additional sulfur-containing compounds.

Joint problems may be helped by chondroitin sulfate, which is found in high amounts in the joint tissues. For centuries, arthritis sufferers have been helped by bathing in waters that contain high amounts of sulfur. Oral sulfur as sulfates in doses of 500-1,000 mg. may also reduce symptoms in some patients. Magnesium sulfate, which is not absorbed, has been used as a laxative. Taurine, another sulfur-containing amino acid, has been used in epilepsy treatment, usually along with zinc. A physiologic form of sulfur called methylsulfonyl methane (MSM) has recently become available and may be helpful in patients with allergies (see Chapter 7, Accessory Nutrients).

If we need additional sulfur, we can get it by eating an egg or two a day or eating extra garlic or onions, as well as other sulfur foods. There is no real cause for concern about the cholesterol in eggs if the diet is generally low in fat and blood cholesterol level is not elevated.

Deficiency and toxicity: There is minimal reason for concern about either toxicity or deficiency of sulfur in the body. No clearly defined symptoms exist with either state. Sulfur deficiency is more common when foods are grown in sulfur-depleted soil, with low-protein diets, or with a lack of intestinal bacteria, though none of these seems to cause any problems in regard to sulfur functions and metabolism.

Requirements: There is no specific RDA for sulfur other than the amino acids of which they are part are needed to meet protein requirements. Our needs are usually easily met through diet. About 850 mg. are thought to be needed for basic turnover of sulfur in the body. There is not much information available on sulfur content of foods, nor are there supplements specifically for sulfur. I have found that it is not really a nutritional concern.


Are the Health Benefits of MSM Related to msm organic sulfur?

Excellent article about the health benefits of our products:

MSM Health Benefits May Be Related to Its Sulfur Content

The clinical use of sulfur as an adjunct in our diet is becoming progressively more recognized as an important tool for optimizing health.

Certainly, diet is the primary tool for reducing your risk for chronic degenerative diseases. But the practical question becomes, how do you obtain the needed sulfur from food grown in depleted soils?

The nutrient MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in all vertebrates, including humans. MSM is already well-known for its joint health benefits, but it may be important for a whole host of other reasons as well.

Rod Benjamin is the director of technical development for Bergstrom Nutrition, the largest producer of the highest quality MSM that is produced by distillation purification.

MSM is a metabolite of DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide, an organosulfur compound), but DMSO is approved for use in veterinary medicine only, not in humans.

Are the Health Benefits of MSM Related to Sulfur?

I first became aware of DMSO decades ago, when I saw a 60-Minutes episode in which they revealed its therapeutic impact on race horses. It supported their soft tissues, helped with muscle soreness and soft-tissue injury. It also benefitted the horses’ lung function.

Dr. Stanley W. Jacob pioneered the use of DMSO and later MSM. Originally, he began looking at DMSO because it freezes at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and Dr. Jacob had been deeply involved in looking at cryogenic preservation of tissues and organs for transplantation. As a result of being investigated for its cryogenic uses, DMSO ended up being one of the most researched drugs on the market today.

“DMSO is classified as a drug within the United States. You can buy it at a lot of veterinary supply stores and things like that, but it’s not to be used for humans,” Mr. Benjamin says.

MSM, which is a metabolite of DMSO, and approved for use in humans, primarily impacts your health by reducing inflammation. It’s widely used as a supplement for arthritic conditions. Like DMSO, MSM also appears to improve cell wall permeability, so it can be used to help deliver other active ingredients. Perhaps most important, MSM helps protect against oxidative damage.

Within the last two years, at least four human clinical trials have been conducted on MSM and its ability to help with exercise recovery, and muscle injuries like delayed onset muscle stiffness or soreness (DOMS) and large muscle injuries like that from a heart attack—all of which is related to oxidative stress and subsequent cellular damage.

“In one of the studies, they were looking at the VAS pain scores. That’s muscle soreness due to exercise. There was a significant reduction in the MSM-treated group versus placebo. That’s directly tied to the muscle soreness,” Mr. Benjamin says.

The Importance of Sulfur

Furthermore, according to Mr. Benjamin:

“Dr. Stanley Jacob said DMSO – and MSM together with that – in his opinion is much more of a therapeutic principle. It’s similar to exercise or proper nutrition. Instead of that singular focus that is so prevalent within the drug or pharmas per se, it’s much more of a therapeutic principle, which is overall body wellness [opposed to treating a specific symptom or ailment].”

This suggests that MSM may be providing some kind of missing link, and that link appears to be related to sulfur. MSM is 34 percent sulfur by weight, but as Mr. Benjamin discusses below, it is more than just a simple sulfur donor. It affects sulfur metabolism in the human body, although it’s still not entirely clear how.

Sulfur is just now becoming more widely appreciated as a really critical nutrient, without which many other things don’t work properly, and most people are probably not getting enough sulfur from their diet anymore. For example, sulfur plays a critical role in detoxification, and also in inflammatory conditions. For detoxification, sulfur is part of one of the most important antioxidants that your body produces: glutathione. Without sulfur, glutathione cannot work.

The plethora of research that was done on DMSO and its therapeutic properties begs the question: How many of those therapeutic properties are due to the DMSO? Or are they due to its metabolite, MSM, once it’s been converted in vivo or within the body? (Approximately 15 percent of any DMSO dosage, on average, converts to MSM in the human body.) The answer to that question is still unknown. Sulfur is found in over 150 different compounds within the human body. There are sulfur components in virtually every type of cell, so it’s extremely important.

“Now, as far as MSM’s role within the body, it’s very complicated. And I will say that it’s not a hundred percent understood,” Mr. Benjamin says. “I’ve been working with this compound for 16 years to try and answer that question. We understand a part of the mechanism of action, but not all of it.

…In 1986, Richmond did a study, and it showed that it was taken up into serum proteins. That sulfur was actually incorporated in the serum proteins.

We also have done [something] like the pharmacokinetic study, which showed that radiolabeled sulfur was taken up into hair, skin, and nails. Keratin is a very high sulfur-containing compound, which is a building block for your nails and your hair. But it also showed up in almost all tissues, spleen, and liver. It went all over.

It’s complicated. We did a study where we said, ‘Okay, let’s give it to healthy human volunteers.’ We did actually three different dosages – one gram, two grams, and three grams. We measured urinary sulfur output by measuring sulfate, thinking that sulfate will be a waste sulfur product that would show up excreted in the urine. We did the different doses to see if it was in a dose-dependent manner that we’d be able to correlate back and, say, ‘Yes, MSM is giving output of sulfur.

We found that they were indeed dose-related, but the interesting thing was it was inversely related. The more MSM you took, the less sulfate was excreted in your urine. What that says is it’s much more complicated than just a strict sulfur donor. It is a compartmentalization of sulfur and sulfur metabolism within the body. That suggests that MSM is actually allowing better metabolism, better incorporation of the sulfur throughout the body. It’s not just a simple sulfur donor…’”

MSM Improves Your Body’s Ability to Make its Own Antioxidants

As I mentioned earlier, sulfur plays an important role in the production of glutathione—one of the most important antioxidants that your body produces. Glutathione also serves important functions for detoxification. Without sulfur, glutathione cannot work. So, while not an antioxidant by itself, part of MSM’s action is to improve your body’s ability to make its own antioxidants.

It also provides support for all sorts of structural proteins, where sulfur is an important component. According to Dr. Benjamin:

“[G]lutathione has two different states within your body. There’s reduced glutathione and oxidized glutathione. The ratio of those two signifies the overall oxidative status or the ability of your blood plasma to address oxidative stress. MSM improves that overall ratio. In other words, you have much more reduced glutathione that’s able to deal with these free radicals. That’s, I think, kind of the key of how MSM really – and DMSO also does the same thing – by controlling that oxidative stress or protecting from the oxidative damage can have these therapeutic [benefits].”

Sulfur-Rich Foods

Ideally, you’d be best off getting your sulfur needs filled from the foods you eat. However, this can be a bit of a challenge these days. There’s been a transition away from many traditional foods that have been the big sources of sulfur, like collagen or keratin, which we just don’t eat much nowadays.

You can perhaps get enough if you cook down bones from organically raised animals into bone broth and drink the broth regularly (or use for soups and stews). The connective tissues are sulfur-rich, and when you slow-cook the bones, you dissolve these nutrients out of the bone and into the water. According to Mr. Benjamin:

“MSM is in almost all raw foods. It’s in leafy green vegetables. Interestingly enough, there’s MSM in beer and coffee. Actually, it’s been identified as one of the main flavoring constituent in port wines… raw milk has the highest naturally occurring content of MSM.”

One caveat is cooking and pasteurization. While MSM is stable to extremes of pH and temperature, it volatilizes and turns to gas very easily. It’s also very water soluble. So when cooked at high temperatures, it simply wafts off in the steam. That’s why it’s easily removed during cooking and processing. Pasteurization cuts the MSM content by approximately 50 percent. So, in order to ensure you’re getting the most MSM from any food, it must be either raw or as minimally processed as possible.

Toxicity and Dosage Recommendations

Toxicity studies have shown that MSM is extremely safe and can be taken at very, very high doses. Even if you have a very rich diet full of raw vegetables and MSM-rich foods, you can still supplement and not hit that toxicity level. Clinical research studies have found that the effective amounts range from about 1.5 grams to 6 grams, although at higher doses, potential side effects include:

  • Intestinal discomfort
  • Swelling of the ankles
  • Mild skin rashes

These are likely detoxifying effects that can typically be mitigated or minimized by cutting back on the initial dosage, and slowly working your way up. In that case, you might want to start out with half a gram (500 milligrams) for a couple of weeks and then slowly increase until you get up to the desired dose.

MSM is approved for use in fortified food and beverage and gram quantities may be consumed when consuming raw diet and approved MSM fortified foods. The amount from the fortified foods that have been approved would be between 1.9 to 3.8 grams per day. For comparison, intake of MSM from natural sources such as fruits and vegetables would be in the milligram per day range of about 2.3 to 5.6 mg/day.

How to Select a High–Quality MSM Supplement

As with most other supplements and food, quality is a major issue when it comes to selecting an MSM supplement. Fortunately, with MSM it’s fairly easy to determine. There are two methods of purification of MSM:

For MSM, distillation is by far superior. But crystallization is less expensive, and a lot less energy-intensive. According to Mr. Benjamin, only two companies that produce MSM use distillation. Mr. Benjamin explains why you should consider a product that has been purified using distillation.

“A lot of the problems with [crystallization] is you’re essentially crystallizing it out of a parent solvent or liquid. If there are any impurities, which could be salts of heavy metals, you could have aromatic hydrocarbons in that… It’s actually the parent solvent. It’s usually water. It is dependent upon water quality. ”

Is MSM for You?

As you know, I am very cautious about recommending supplements, as I believe you’re best off getting your nutrients from healthful, whole organic foods. But, I’m also realistic, and I understand a perfect diet is hard to come by these days, so some supplements I believe can be quite beneficial. MSM would fall into this category. It would make sense that, if you’re suffering from a decrease in normal dietary sulfur, supplementing with something that’s relatively safe and inexpensive would make a lot of sense.

As I’ve said, sulfur is an emerging stealth player in nutrition and for a variety of mechanisms, including the detox and anti-inflammatory pathways. Remember, if you don’t have enough sulfur in your diet, you’re not going to be able to naturally produce glutathione, which is absolutely essential for removing heavy metals and many of the toxins you’re exposed to. People who might want to consider using some supplemental sulfur sources such as MSM include those who have:

  • Chronic inflammatory conditions
  • Aches and pains / sore muscles and achy joints
  • Premature aging symptoms
  • Toxicity


What does msm for do for joints?

Really good article about msm and joint pain:

Do glucosamine and MSM relieve joint pain?

The glucosamine-MSM controversy continues: My 43-year-old physician’s assistant says, “I couldn’t get in the car and drive to work in the morning if I didn’t take glucosamine for joint pain.” My primary-care physician is wholly noncommittal re the efficacy of glucosamine-MSM formulations. In recovery from hip surgery, my night nurse sympathizes. “I’ve had four hip surgeries.” she says. “Glucosamine is indispensable for me.” The veteran orthopedic surgeon stops in at 8 a.m. “Glucosamine just gives you expensive urine. Don’t waste your money.” she pronounces authoritatively. The local drug store has a display six feet wide by six feet high of glucosamine-MSM products. The attendant pharmacist judges me a fool for even asking about the relative value of any of them. What says WELL, finally and expertly, about the use of any (which?) glucosamine-MSM formulation for relief of joint pain?

People have wildly conflicting opinions about the benefits of glucosamine, a compound found naturally in healthy joints, and MSM, short for methylsulfonylmethane. The two, usually sold as separate preparations, are popular nutritional supplements that promise to lessen the creaking and soreness of knees, backs, hips and other joints.

But the results of scientific studies of the supplements are equivocal. For instance, in the largest study to date of glucosamine, published in 2006, more than 1,500 adults with knee osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to receive the supplement, a painkiller or a placebo. After 24 weeks, only those participants taking the painkiller reported less knee pain. Glucosamine had been no more effective than a placebo.

Two years later, the researchers checked in again on 600 of the participants, each of whom had continued to take glucosamine, painkillers or a placebo. They still found no “clinically important” benefit from the glucosamine, though a few of the volunteers taking glucosamine reported less soreness (as did some of those taking the placebo). In effect, they concluded, glucosamine had provided little pain relief to most, some help to a few, and no particular harm to anyone, as side effects were rare.

Studies of MSM use are more scarce, and the results both encouraging and cautionary. In a noteworthy animal experiment published earlier this year, Japanese scientists bred mice to develop premature knee arthritis, then dosed some with levels of MSM equivalent to that found in most over-the-counter preparations for people, while others received 10 times as much MSM, and others none.

After a month, the animals taking either dose of MSM had developed less degeneration of the cartilage in their knees than the control animals. But those taking megadoses of the supplement did have signs of incipient liver and spleen damage.

The upshot? “I tell people that if they want to spend their money” on glucosamine or MSM, “that’s up to them,” said Dr. Michael Parks, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, who frequently treats patients with arthritis. At recommended doses, the supplements “are generally safe,” he said, “and some people do say that they make them feel better.”


What is MSM Eye Drops?

MSM Drops softens tissues, equalizes pressure, repairs damaged membranes, and helps tissues be able to absorb nutrients more effectively.

MSM eyedrops soften tissue so that nutrients and healing agents are better able to be absorbed.

Your skin is porous. The membrane on the outside of your skin allows fluids to penetrate through the wall of the membrane, which behaves like a filter allowing nutrients and soothing and healing agents to enter the skin and waste particles in your sweat to exit.

When this outer layer of tissue becomes thick and leather-like waste fluids within are trapped and cannot exit, and nutrients on the outside cannot enter.

MSM Drops soften the membranes of the eye which perform similar functions, allowing them to be more permeable so that nutrients can pass through and provide nutrients to heal damage to the eyes. MSM Drops not only softens tissue, but repairs damaged membranes, equalizes pressures, clears up red spots and broken vessels, helps remove blemishes and other tissue particles.

A number of people have asked about the best way to use these drops – orally or as eyedrops. They are just pure MSM (sulfur), water and sea salt. As long as you are not allergic to sulfur (found in eggs, broccoli and cauliflower for example) then the drops are safe to use in the eyes. Some people ask about sulfa versus sulfur. Sulfa is a chemical used in medications, and has no relationship with sulfur which is a mineral used throughout the body.

MSM Drops are safe, sterile and nontoxic.

Ingredients: Triple UV Treated Deionized Water adjusted to 0.09% saline (derived from Sea Salt), Organic MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) 4%, Disodium EDTA as a preservative.

*The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated this statement. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease.

Are dietary supplements good for you?

According to Wikipedia:

A dietary supplement is intended to provide nutrients that may otherwise not be consumed in sufficient quantities.

Supplements as generally understood include vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, or amino acids, among other substances. U.S. authorities define dietary supplements as foods, while elsewhere they may be classified as drugs or other products.

There are more than 50,000 dietary supplements available. More than half of the U.S. adult population (53% – 55%) consume dietary supplements with most common ones being multivitamins.[1][2]

These products are not intended to prevent or treat any disease and in some circumstances are dangerous, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. For those who fail to consume a balanced diet, the agency says that certain supplements “may have value.”[3]

Most supplements should be avoided, and usually people should not eat micronutrients except people with clearly shown deficiency.[4] Those people should first consult a doctor.[5] An exception is vitamin D, which is recommended in Nordic countries[6] due to weak sunlight.

There are actually 7 supplements that can help you lose weight according to Women’s Health Magazine.

You can lose weight without starving yourself or drastically restricting your food choices. You can eat reasonable portions and put in reasonable workouts at the gym, and you can shed fat while you do it.

How? It all comes down to eating the right combination of foods–foods that will shift your body out of fat-storage mode and into fat-melting mode. Specific vitamins and nutrients can actually help to flip an internal switch that signals cells throughout your body to burn more calories, wasting many of those calories as heat. Without these important nutrients, the opposite happens. Your body holds onto fat. Your metabolism slows and your weight-loss efforts become an exercise in futility.

Optimize these critical fat-melting nutrients so you can finally drop those stubborn pounds and keep them off for good. In this way, you can still consume reasonable portions and put in a reasonable amount of exercise. Yes, you still have to watch your portions. Yes, exercise is still important. But fat-melting foods work in your favor so you can eat and move in a way that is reasonable, effective, and realistic for life.

Vitamin D

How It Melts Fat: Study after study shows that vitamin D helps to ensure body cells listen and respond to insulin, a hormone secreted from your pancreas. One of its jobs is to help glucose get into body cells, which burn glucose for energy. How well insulin pushes glucose into cells is called “insulin sensitivity.” The more sensitive your cells are to insulin, the better. The less sensitive they are to insulin, the more likely the calories you eat will end up in your fat cells.

When levels of D are low, levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) rise. Higher than normal levels of PTH trigger a series of reactions that eventually lead to fat cells converting sugar into fat and hoarding fat rather than releasing it to be burned, explains Michael B. Zemel, PhD, director of the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

A lack of vitamin D may also interfere with leptin, a hormone that signals your brain to stop eating. Your body doesn’t know when it’s full, so you continue to eat.  read more

What is methyl sulfonyl methane (mdm)?

Methylsulfonylmethane MSM

Chemical Compound

Methylsulfonylmethane is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH₃)₂SO₂. It is also known by several other names including DMSO₂, methyl sulfone, and dimethyl sulfone. Wikipedia

Formula: C2H6O2S
Melting point: 228.2°F (109°C)
Molar mass: 94.13 g/mol
Density: 1.45 g/cm³
IUPAC ID: dimethyl sulfone
Boiling point: 460.4°F (238°C)

Excellent reference:

MSM (methyl-sufonyl-methane), a stable metabolite of DMSO, is a special biological sulfur found in all plants, soils, fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, meats and milk. It is organic sulfur, a naturally occurring compound in the human body. In the purified form that we sell, it is an odorless white crystal with a slightly bitter taste.


Unknown to most of us, sulfur is one of the five basic elements of life. Sulfur is an indispensable component in human nutrition. It’s found in every cell in the body, and is structurally and functionally important to 150 compounds, including hormones, enzymes, antibodies and antioxidants. Sulfur itself is held mainly in the muscles, skin, bones, nails and hair. MSM provides the essential sulfur necessary for a number of body compounds.

Sulfur is an essential component of various compounds and processes in the body, and is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, immunoglobulin and enzymes. In the body, sulfur:

  • Maintains cell membrane flexibility and permeability, promoting an efficient exchange of nutrients and waste products.
  • Ensures connective tissue health and the formation of collagen.
  • Provides the body with raw materials needed to create new cells, to repair and replace damaged tissues and organs.
  • Figures into energy production, as a component of insulin and a prerequisite for normal carbohydrate metabolism.
  • Is essential in maintaining the body’s crucial acid/alkaline (pH) balance.
  • Is an activator of thiamine, vitamin C, biotin and pantothenic acid.


MSM is an extraordinary dietary supplement that is amazing researchers and users alike because of its remarkable benefits for a huge range of health problems including: arthritis, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, PMS, acne, lung problems, muscle pain, parasites, cancer, heartburn, constipation…and the list goes on.

MSM is an especially versatile supplement, and has been used for a variety of applications, such as: anti-inflammatory effects and to reduce acidity in the body, treat gastrointestinal disorders and constipation, increase circulation and promote connective tissue health. Newer uses include treatment for lupus, snoring, breast cancer, colon cancer, parasites, diabetes, eye health, stress and mental disorders.


Because of its non-toxic nature, MSM is non-allergenic and does not interfere with any other types of pharmaceutical medicines or supplements. Daily doses are normally 1/2 teaspoon, to 1 1/2 teaspoons twice per day, up to 6 teaspoons daily. (1 level teaspoon = about 4 grams or 4000 mg)


MSM is considered very safe. Toxicity is extremely rare: the lethal dose of MSM in mice was found to be more than 20 grams per kilogram of body weight. No toxic effects were shown in humans given up to one gram per kilogram of body weight per day for 30 days. (Few long term studies have been done). One unpublished study found no side effects or measurable toxicity in volunteers using MSM during a six month period. There is not a standard recommendation, but some guidelines suggest between 500mg and 5 grams per day for maintenance purposes. Based on studies, the suggested therapeutic dosage of MSM ranges from two grams to 10 grams per day.

Among MSM suppliers, Gerald Schmoling, D.V.M., president of Vitality Health Systems in Tampa, FL., said he takes about three grams per day; George Bergstrom, president of Cardinal Associates, takes about 5 grams per day. Joseph Christy, managing director of TriMedica in Scottsdale, AZ., reports taking up to 10 grams per day.

It’s thought that people with allergies and sinus problems need consistently higher doses, around the level of more than five grams per day.

Social Widgets powered by AB-WebLog.com.