Sulfur is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and is essential to many important physiological processes, but a recent study suggests that much of the population, especially seniors, may not be getting enough. One solution is methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a naturally occurring sulfur compound with a host of health benefits.
What is MSM?
MSM can be found in various fruits, vegetables, grains, and animal products,and is also available as a supplement. The sulfur found in MSM is incorporated into methionine and cysteine, two of the aminoacids needed to build proteins and carry out normal processes. MSM has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, and has a beneficial effect on a wide variety of disorders.
MSM for arthritis
Sulfur is needed for the formation of connective tissue, and arthritic cartilage has been shown to contain only one-third of that of healthy cartilage. Although more research is needed, existing studies suggest that arthritis symptoms improve with MSM supplementation. A study in 2011 found that taking MSM for 12 weeks resulted in small but significant improvements in pain and physical function for those with osteoarthritis of the knee.
MSM for cancer
MSM has been reported to have anti-cancer effects in many cell types, including those of the esophagus, liver, and breast. In a laboratory study, MSM was shown toinhibit growth and promote apoptosis (cell-death) in liver tumors. Another laboratory study showed that MSM inhibited breast cell tumor initiation, growth, and metastasis. The authors “strongly recommend the use of MSM as a trial drug for treating breast cancers,” because it can target multiple points of tumor growth pathways.
MSM for allergies
The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published a study suggesting the use of MSM as a treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis. The study found that an MSMsupplement of 2,600 mg/day for 30 days helped reduce allergy symptoms. The authors suggest a larger study to validate these results.
MSM for rosacea
Significant improvements in skin redness, itching, hydration, and other symptoms were seen in patients with rosacea who used a cream containing silymarin (extract of milk thistle) and MSM.
MSM for exercise recovery
Aerobic exercise causes a large energy demand on the body and results in increased oxygen uptake. One side effect of this is that strenuous exercise can cause an increase in reactive oxygen species and the production of free radicals, which can be compensated for by antioxidant consumption.Another effect of strenuous exercise can be inflammation. As MSM has been shown to be both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent, it can be especially useful in exercise recovery. Many studies have shown that the benefits of MSM include alleviating oxidative stress markers, decreasing muscle damage, reducing muscle fatigue, and reducing soreness.[3,5,11] The greatest effects were found with a dose of 3g/day of MSM.
How to take MSM
If you have problems with any of the conditions listed above, consider taking an MSM supplement to take advantage of its valuable benefits. Try a dose of between 1.5 and 3g/day. MSM is considered to be non-toxic, with large doses of greater than 2 mg/day producing no adverse effects.
Share your experience
Have you ever tried an MSM supplement? Did it help you with a specific condition? Please share your experience in the comments section below.