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Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)


What is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?

MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in the body and in green vegetables, milk, fish, and grains, marketed as a dietary supplement and sold as a chemical compound derived from DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), also known as Sulfonyl sulfur is in the fluid and tissues of all living organisms and in many plant and animal foods. It is also known by several other names such as DMSO2, MSM, methylsulfonylmethane and methyl sulfone. MSM, in its purified form, can be described as an odorless, tasteless, white, water soluble, crystalline solid.

Like Glucosamine and Chondroitin, MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) provides raw materials the body needs. MSM is an element that occurs widely in nature that is pure, organic, non-toxic, and non-metallic. It's an analog of the compound dimethysulfoxide, and is 34% elemental sulfur by weight, making it one of the richest sources of sulfur. As one of the most abundant element in all living organisms, sulfur is found in more than 150 types of bodily compounds, from enzymes and tissues to hormones and antioxidants. It's also a component of structural protein, the type found in hair, skin, and joints. Sulfur also occurs in connective tissue, and is in a key structural component known as collagen, which in turn helps form cartilage.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a well-known supplement used for numerous conditions including pain, inflammation, allergies, arthritis, and in maintaining normal levels of keratin in hair, skin and nails. MSM is claimed to have remarkable pain-relief power owing to the fact that it's a relative of DMSO, another more well-known prescription sulfur compound that's long been said to relieve pain. Topically, veterinarians use it to relieve muscle pain and inflammation in horses. Until recently there have only been few studies on MSM, and a lot of the reports on the benefits of MSM supplement had been anecdotal. However, there have been new findings that MSM supplements are indeed beneficial, particularly in arthritis and seasonal allergic rhinitis.

MSM serves as an important source of bioavailable dietary sulfur, an element necessary for healthy cartilage and liver detoxification processes. It is an vital component of proteins found throughout the body, such as in hair, nails, skin and tendons. MSM is found in small amounts in everyone's blood and it is also found in many foods. It's unclear what role dietary MSM plays in the complex chemistry of the human body, but like other sulfur compounds, dietary MSM is a necessary building block for proteins, especially those found in the hair, muscles, and connective tissue of the joints and skin. Sulfur is also needed in insulin hormone and bile acid. MSM, taken orally, is able to cross the blood brain barrier.

What is Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) used for and who uses it?
MSM -- or Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, is also called "organic sulfur." It has found its use in medicine since MSM is a rich source of sulfur which is required to synthesize other chemicals in the body. It is widely used around the world for relief of pain from arthritis, back pain or muscle pain, chronic pain, arthritis, joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, bursitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, musculoskeletal pain, muscle cramps, scleroderma, scar tissue, stretch marks, wrinkles, protection against sun/wind burn, eye inflammation, oral hygiene, periodontal disease, wounds, cuts, and abrasions/accelerated wound healing. It is either taken orally or topically for these uses.

MSM is also used to help alleviate allergies, chronic constipation, ulcers, a bowel disease called diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood elevation, obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is also used for type 2 diabetes, liver problems, Alzheimer's disease, lung disorders including emphysema and pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, auto-immune disorders (systemic lupus erythematous), HIV infection and AIDS, and cancer (breast cancer and colon cancer).

Other clinical applications of MSM include eye inflammation, mucous membrane inflammation, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, leg cramps, migraine, headaches, hangover, parasitic infections of the intestinal and urogenital tracts including Trichomonas vaginalis and Giardia, yeast infections, insect bites, radiation poisoning, and to strengthen the immune system. MSM is also used to help manage and treat snoring. In fact, directions for making MSM nose drops for snoring have been published, although more studies are still needed to support as evidence that MSM has any effect on snoring. Contrary to some MSM promotional literature, there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for MSM or sulfur, which it contains. Sulfur deficiency has not been described in the medical literature, since it can be easily derived from many high protein dietary sources.

MSM is often referred to as a "penetrant" because it can make the walls of cells become more "permeable." This means that the cells can more easily eliminate garbage that is constantly being created inside the cell, and the cell can also absorb nutrients more easily. This attribute of being able to "increase permeability" of cells explains its ability to relieve pain. Since pain is caused by the accumulation of toxic buildup in the joints, muscles and fluids, and MSM is a powerful detoxifier by virtue of making cells more "permeable, that's what makes MSM effective in alleviating pain caused by toxic buildups in those areas.

How pure is your Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?
This pharmaceutical grade Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) powder is assayed by the manufacturer to be 99.94% pure. It contains no fillers, taste additives, or anti-caking agents. The remaining 0.06% by weight are inactive byproducts of the extraction.

MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in the environment and in the human body. Sulfur is needed for the structure of every cell in the body. Hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and antioxidants all depend on it. Because the body utilizes and expends it on a daily basis, sulfur must be continually replenished for optimal nutrition and health. Although MSM is found in the normal human diet, as foods are processed, MSM is destroyed. It is no longer present in foods that have been stored during shipping or held in storage, even though they contained MSM in their natural state. Since it bonds with moisture, when any dehydration occurs, the MSM goes with it. For these reasons, supplementation is generally recommended.

What are some of the common effects and facts about Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?
MSM is a nutrient that supports healthy active lifestyles by providing nutritionally essential sulfur and methyl groups. MSM supplies methyl groups, which form the building blocks of all organic molecules in the body. In a process called 'methylation' the body continuously breaks down and builds up body tissue and body cells. At a rate of millions of times per second, methyl groups are used in the body for the construction of molecules. As such methylation is needed for the formation of new DNA and new cells. Additionally, methylation is also a crucial stage in the detoxification processes in the liver. MSM also supplies the body's much needed sulfur. As we get older, the supply of sulfur in the body significantly decreases. One study has shown that arthritic cartilage contains only one-third of the sulfur concentration compared to that of healthy cartilage. MSM is often considered the safest donor of methyl groups and sulfur, as it does not leave any toxic molecule residue behind.

What is the daily suggested dose of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?
Nutritionists recommend a daily intake of 4 to 20 grams a day. This is equal to about one to five level teaspoons. For osteoarthritis, 500 mg three times daily up to 3 grams twice daily is recommended. MSM can be taken in higher doses (21 to 40 grams), but only under a doctor's supervision, due to its blood thinning effects. One level teaspoon will supply approximately 3696 milligrams, or just about 4 grams of this powder.

As always, if you have concerns or questions, consult a physician or a health care professional before taking any supplements. Before taking any kind of medicine, check with your doctor to ensure that the supplement you want to take is right for you. You may be allergic or you may have a sensitive stomach which may raise the need for special instruction as far as dosage goes.

Precautions and Potential side effects of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
MSM is rated as one of the least toxic substances in biology and medicine, comparable to water. There have been over 30 years worth of research studies done at the Oregon Health Science University in Portland, Oregon, as well as numerous other research facilities. They have determined that the LD-50 rating (lethal dose) of MSM is comparable to that of water. As such, no side effects have been reported with the use of MSM. It should be noted however, that MSM may have a mild blood thinning effect, so people taking high doses of blood thinning medication may require a lower dose of these substances and are recommended to consult with their doctor before using MSM as a nutritional supplement. Also, though generally a desired effect, MSM will cause your hair and fingernails to grow at a faster rate, and it has been reported to give people a sudden increase in energy.

This information is NOT a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist. Do not use any dietary supplement as a replacement for conventional care, or as a reason to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem. Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Taste, solubility, and suggested preparation of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
This product dissolves quickly in water and has a slightly bitter taste, but not bad at all. Just mix your usual dose with water or citrus juice and drink.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is used in the following Proprietary Formulas
Joint Power Rx, Universal Animal Flex, Controlled Labs Orange Triad, NOW Glucosamine Chondroitin with MSM, Doctor's Best Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM, Universal Jointment Sport, Country Life MSM, Doctor's Best Best MSM, Eclipse 2000 MSM, KAL MSM Powder, Life-flo MSM 2000, MRM MSM 1000mg, MRM MSM Crystals, Natrol MSM, NOW MSM, Supplement Direct MSM

References & Further Research

Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis and the second most common cause of long-term disability among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a popular dietary supplement used as a single agent and in combination with other nutrients, and purported to be beneficial for arthritis. However, there is paucity of evidence to support the use of MSM. Fifty men and women, 40-76 years of age with knee OA pain were given a MSM supplement 3 grams twice a day for 12 weeks. Overall data showed MSM 3 grams twice a day improved symptoms of pain and physical function during the short intervention without major adverse events.

A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane MSM in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis
Numerous clinical observations and case studies have led researchers to hypothesize that MSM may reduce the symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of MSM in the reduction of seasonal allergic rhinitis associated symptoms. Fifty subjects consumed 2,600 mg of MSM supplement orally per day for 30 days. The results of this study suggest that MSM supplementation of 2,600 mg/day for 30 days may be helpful in the reduction of symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Pharmacokinetics and distribution of [35S] methylsulfonylmethane following oral administration to rats
The objective of this study was to evaluate the pharmacokinetic profile and distribution of radiolabeled MSM in rats. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were administered a single oral dose of [35S] MSM (500 mg/kg), and blood levels of radioactivity were determined at different time points for up to 48 h. The results of this study suggest that [35S] MSM is rapidly absorbed, well distributed, and completely excreted from the body.

Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a widely available 'alternative' medicine. In vivo magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) was used to detect and quantify MSM in the brains of four patients with memory loss and in three normal volunteers all of who had ingested MSM at the recommended doses of 1-3 g daily. MSM was detected in all subjects at concentrations of 0.42-3.40 mmole/kg brain and was equally distributed between gray and white matter. No adverse clinical or neurochemical effects were observed. Appearance of MSM in significant concentrations in the human brain indicates ready transfer across the intact blood-brain barrier.

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