MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is an organosulfur compound that occurs naturally in some primitive plants and in very small amounts in some foods and beverages. MSM is an underappreciated compound that I like to refer to as, “Likes to share” or “Designed to share”.
Many of us prescribe it for joint pain relating to osteoarthritis. Two clinical trials have proven its benefits in significantly improving pain outcomes compared to placebo, giving it two thumbs up for use in OA pain. But beyond OA, what are the other possibilities of this compound?
Another great use for MSM is for athletic performance and those of us who consider ourselves ‘weekend warriors’. Vigorous exercise can produce oxidative stress, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and free radicals, which can damage our tissues and possibly play a role in chronic joint diseases. MSM has the ability to reduce ROS in those with oxidative stress. It helps to moderate the excessive production of ROS at an intercellular level, aiding in short-term recovery from exercise by lessening the inflammatory immune response and swelling.
Another marker that scientists recognize for enhanced exercise recovery is glutathione. Oxidized glutathione, which needs to be converted back to reduced glutathione, to be able to donate a reducing equivalent (H+ + e-), increases after significantly after exercise. Increased oxidized glutathione demonstrates an that there is an increase in oxidative stress occurring in the body. Antioxidants, like MSM, given after physical exercise, help to prevent oxidation of the blood pool of glutathione.
Positive research has also emerged for MSM use with hay fever at higher dosages revolving around 2.6g/day. Another study showed that DMSO (A percentage of DMSO is converted to MSM in the body) helped in the treatment of interstitial cystitis. Numerous case reports have reported benefits in lupus (improvements in joint, skin and vascular symptoms), asthma and constipation. Interestingly, a throat-spray containing MSM, showed a benefit in reducing snoring.
MSM, as implicated in its name, can also act as a ‘methyl donor’. Methylation is an important biochemical process in the body to help reduce homocysteine (Please see Dr. McIntyre’s blog about homocysteine (/blog/homocysteine/). MSM has been proven to help reduce homocysteine in individuals. A study was done after 12 weeks of administration, measuring urinary malondialdehyde (MDA) and homocysteine. It was shown that MSM decreased urinary MDA levels and decreased homocysteine. MDA is important, because it is a marker for measuring oxidative stress. This indicates a potential role for MSM in supporting methylation and proving its ability to reduce oxidative stress.
MSM also provides an important source of biological sulfur, which humans need for biochemical processes. Sulfur is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein found in connective tissue. It has been reported that sulfur concentration in arthritic cartilage is (about 1/3 or one third) the normal level. It is also present in keratin, which is necessary for the maintenance of skin, nails and hair.
Have you ever tried MSM? What has your experiences been? Share with us in the comments below!