Health Benefits of MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane)
MSM is an organic sulphur commonly used to treat arthritis, sporting injuries and tendonitis. It is thought that MSM supports joint function by reducing the inflammation and promoting the repair of joint tissues. MSM is popularly taken in supplement form, however, creams are also available.
What is MSM?
MSM, also known as methylsulfonylmethane, is a stable source of sulphur that is naturally found in the human body, plants and animals. In the body, sulphur is a key building block of joint cartilage and is directly involved in the production and strengthening of collagen molecules. The elastic nature of collagen adds “bounce” to cell membranes, helping to keep them flexible and plump.
As we age, collagen production declines, which means that our joints don’t bounce back from injuries as quickly as they once did, and often become stiff and painful. Adding MSM to the diet may help to replace lost supplies.
Most of the studies examining the health benefits of MSM have been short-term, on average around three months, although research is ongoing. The key benefits of MSM are:
- Osteoarthritis: One study combined MSM with Glucosamine, another joint-supporting compound. In the trial, 118 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were split into four groups; patients in the first group took 1500mg of Glucosamine daily; those in the second group took 1500mg of MSM; those in the third group took both Glucosamine and MSM, and patients in the fourth group took a placebo. At the end of the 12-week trial, findings showed that Glucosamine, MSM and their combination significantly improved knee pain and movement, compared to the placebo.
- Muscle recovery after exercise: One short-term study found that daily supplementation with 3000mg of MSM helped to significantly reduce muscle soreness when pain levels were measured 48 hours after exercise. It is thought that MSM may also help to prevent further joint damage caused by exertion during exercise by eliminating waste products at a cellular level and speeding up cell recovery.
- Hair loss: Collagen is needed for the maintenance and growth of healthy hair, and so it is thought that MSM may have a beneficial effect on the strength and integrity of hair follicles and strands.
- Allergies: There is some evidence to suggest that MSM’s anti-inflammatory benefits may offer some relief from the symptoms of hay fever, including respiratory congestion and itching.
How Much Should I Take?
MSM occurs naturally in foods such as nuts, milk and raw cabbage, but is vulnerable to heat so foods need to be eaten raw.
In supplement form, take up to 6000mg per day divided into two to three doses. There are two types of MSM supplements; crystallised and distilled. Crystallised MSM is less expensive, but can contain impurities and heavy metals from the organic sulphur. In comparison, distilled MSM undergoes a process to completely remove contaminants and so is considered to be a superior quality. For this reason, always opt for MSM which has been purified by distillation.
There is no evidence to support the use of MSM during pregnancy, and so supplementation should be avoided during this period.
MSM Side Effects and Interactions
MSM is well tolerated and no side effects have been reported to date. In addition to this, there are no known interactions with prescription medications.
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