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MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) - Supplement for Arthritis

Not a Cure But May Be Beneficial

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Updated June 30, 2014

Is MSM a Cure for Arthritis?:

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) has been hyped as a cure for arthritis, based on testimonials but little valid scientific data. Stanley Jacob, M.D. who developed MSM maintains that the supplement does not cure arthritis, but he believes it offers many benefits.

What Are the Benefits of Taking MSM?:

MSM has been marketed for pain and inflammation associated with:

MSM also claims to help constipation, allergies, and even snoring. MSM has not been shown to preserve cartilage, nor halt joint destruction and deformity. Any beneficial effects of MSM last only as long as MSM is taken.

Where Is the Source of MSM?:

MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains. MSM is therefore found in the normal human diet, but as foods are processed, MSM is destroyed. MSM is an odorless, tasteless, white, water soluble, crystalline solid in its purified form.

Is MSM Natural?:

MSM can be found naturally in foods, but it is marketed as a dietary supplement and sold as a chemical compound derived from DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). DMSO is found in an industrial-grade and also a medical-grade. DMSO, which was touted as a miracle treatment for arthritis in the 1960s, became controversial because of potential problems and unpleasant side effects. As DMSO faded from use as an arthritis treatment, MSM gained momentum.

Does Research Support MSM as an Arthritis Treatment?:

Animal studies have supported the benefits of MSM. Human studies published in peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals are few. In animal studies involving mice, MSM relieved symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus nephritis.

There have been two human, double blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials that have indicated that MSM is effective for osteoarthritis. One of the studies was published by the journal, Osteoarthritis and Cartilage (2006 Mar;14(3):286-94).

How Is MSM Marketed?:

MSM is sold as an oral formulation (solution, tablets, or capsules). It is sometimes combined with other dietary supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin C, or others. MSM is also sold as a topical cream.

What Should You Do Before Trying MSM?:

Be sure to inform you doctor that you are going to take MSM. Interactions between MSM and other prescription medications, non-prescription medications, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies are possible but unknown.

What Should You Know Before Buying MSM?:

If you are going to buy MSM, it is important to buy from a reputable manufacturer or vendor. Choose a product with a USP notation (for US Pharmacopoeia standards). It is important to select a quality brand. Different brands may vary in the amount of active ingredient they contain.

How Should You Take MSM?:

The Arthritis Foundation recommends starting with a low dosage of 500 mg twice a day and increasing gradually to 1,000 mg twice a day. Note any side effects and notify your doctor. After starting MSM, allow a reasonable amount of time to notice any benefits. If after a certain time period you do not notice any benefit, decide along with your doctor if you should discountinue MSM.

Related Resources:

Sources:

MSM - DMSO, Arthritis Today, 1999 Archives

Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM, Drugfinder

MSM, Quackwatch

 

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