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Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2011 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Crystalline DMSO, dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, methyl sulfone, methyl sulfonyl methane, methyl-sulfonyl-methane, methylsulfonylmethane, OptiMSM®, sulfonyl sulfur.
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a form of organic sulfur that occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals. MSM is a normal oxidation product of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). It arises from a series of reactions that begin on the surface waters of the ocean. MSM is a white, odorless, crystalline substance that is water-soluble and contains 34% element sulfur.
No evidence suggests that MSM is a necessary part of a normal diet. Sulfur is considered an essential mineral, but no dietary requirement has been established for it. MSM as a vital source of dietary sulfur is unsupported by published research. The nutrient is generally well tolerated, but long-term effects of supplementation with MSM have not been examined.
MSM seemed to improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis and osteoarthritis. However, more high quality research using MSM is necessary to define its role in treating these conditions. Although the Arthritis Foundation reports that MSM is used for pain and inflammation, they do not recommend its use due to lack of clinical trials.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Preliminary study suggests that MSM may reduce symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). However, additional study is needed to confirm these findings.
Preliminary study has used MSM, alone or in combination with glucosamine, in the treatment of osteoarthritis. The combination may provide pain relief and reduction in inflammation. Further studies on MSM and its effects on patients with osteoarthritis are warranted.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;
B: Good scientific evidence for this use;
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;
D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
- Acne, analgesia, anti-parasitic, antispasmodic, burns, cancer, cardiovascular - blood flow, connective tissue disorders, constipation, cramps, diabetes mellitus, drug hypersensitivity, eye disorders (inflammation), gastrointestinal disorders, headache, heartburn, immunostimulant, insect bites, interstitial cystitis (chronic inflammation of the bladder), liver disease, lupus erythematosus (autoimmune disorder with skin wounds), mood enhancement, obesity, periodontal disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pulmonary conditions, radiation sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, scar prevention, scleroderma (chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs), sinusitis, skin conditions (stretch marks), snoring, synovitis (inflammation of the joint lining), tendonitis, wrinkle prevention.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
MSM comes in various dosages and is an ingredient in many products. Adult dosage may range from 500-8,000 milligrams daily with or after meals. For allergic rhinitis, 2,600 milligrams per day for up to 30 days has been used. For osteoarthritis, 500 milligrams per day for up to 12 weeks has been used.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven effective dose of MSM in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to MSM.
Side Effects and Warnings
Studies have shown safety and tolerability of MSM products when taken by mouth in recommended doses. Minimal side effects, including mild gastrointestinal discomfort, have been associated with the use of MSM. No studies on the long-term effects of MSM have been conducted.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
MSM is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant agents may have additive effects.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant herbs or supplements may have additive effects.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
- Barrager E, Veltmann JR Jr, Schauss AG, et al. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med 2002;8(2):167-173. View Abstract
- Beilke MA, Collins-Lech C, Sohnle PG. Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on the oxidative function of human neutrophils. J Lab Clin Med 1987;110(1):91-96. View Abstract
- Horvath K, Noker PE, Somfai-Relle S, et al. Toxicity of methylsulfonylmethane in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40(10):1459-1462. View Abstract
- Layman DL, Jacob SW. The absorption, metabolism and excretion of dimethyl sulfoxide by rhesus monkeys. Life Sci 12-23-1985;37(25):2431-2437. View Abstract
- Lin A, Nguy CH, Shic F, et al. Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Toxicol Lett 9-15-2001;123(2-3):169-177. View Abstract
- Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sci 7-21-1986;39(3):263-268. View Abstract
- Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24:353-363.
Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.