MSM (methylsulphonylmethane) is commonly used in order to treat conditions such as osteoarthritis, but can also benefit gastrointestinal issues, musculoskeletal pain, and allergies, while enhancing immune function and fighting potential infections. It’s often taken by athletes in order to boost recovery periods after intense workouts.
What is MSM?
MSM is an organic sulfur-containing compound which is naturally found in vegetables, grains, fruits, and even within humans. It has gained a lot of popularity as a nutritional supplement, aiding in a wide range of ailments based on its high concentration of antioxidants, reducing oxidative damage and swelling. This is especially true for those who take part in strenuous training in terms of recovery.
MSM is 34 percent elemental sulfur by weight, being one of the richest sources. In addition to offering sulfur, MSM plays a key role in sulfur metabolism. Many do not know this, but sulfur is actually the third most abundant mineral in our bodies and the sixth most abundant within human breast milk. It’s found in our muscles, skin, bone, hair, and is essentially found within every cell of our bodies.
Sulfur and Our Health
Sulfur plays a key role in the formation of proteins and the regulation of enzymes. You’re probably aware of the protein known as keratin, found in our skin, nails, and hair, which sulfur is the main component of. It’s also essential for making collagen and cartilage.
Sulfur is considered to be one of the raw materials that’s needed to create healthy new cells that have flexible walls. This level of flexibility allows fluids to flow freely, reducing inflammation and pain. It’s also been linked to insulin levels, digestive functioning, neurogenerative diseases, and more.
DMSO is often used on horses and is a drug sold at veterinary supply stores, but is not available for humans. Instead, MSM is a metabolite of DMSO and is approved for human use, reducing inflammation and arthritic symptoms. Perhaps the most important, is the way in which MSM protects us against oxidative damage.
Sulfur is now becoming more widely appreciated as a critical nutrient needed for optimal functioning. Most people simply do not get enough sulfur in their diet which is why supplementation is effective. Sulfur plays a key role in detoxification and inflammation. Without it, your body could not utilize one of the most important antioxidants, known as glutathione.
What the Research Has to Say
A 28-day study conducted at the University of Memphis, within the Department of Health and Sport Sciences, found that MSM may enhance exercise recovery. It was found that those who took MSM before they exercised experienced a reduction in fatigue and soreness once training was complete. In addition to these results, researchers observed an increased antioxidant count.
In Iran, similar research was conducted yielding similar results. In a 10-day study, when supplemented with MSM, it was found that subjects had increased antioxidant levels. Researchers believe this increase was the reason that muscle damage was reduced after exercising.
In a Spanish study, horses were given MSM to see the effects this supplement had on recovery after a jumping competition. It was found that horses experienced less soreness, redness, and experienced the antioxidant-boosting benefits associated with this supplement.
The Positive Benefits of MSM
Reducing Muscle Damage
The benefits regarding MSM for the musculoskeletal system are based on the potent antioxidants that are known to reduce muscle damage after exercise, aiding in recovery. Athletes who take MSM experience less muscle damage, improving their ability to build lean muscle mass.
Immediately, they experience less soreness and find that they’re able to recover more rapidly. When you’re able to recover faster, you enhance your training and achieve healthier bones and cartilage. It’s also believed that MSM may help protect lung tissue, which is essential for respiratory functioning.
MSM and Bone Health
The benefits associated with MSM have not all been related to exercise. In fact, nutritional supplements are commonly used within therapy to address degenerating bone and joint conditions. In one study, after 12 weeks, subjects reported improvements in their osteoarthritis symptoms when taking MSM.
This is exciting, as MSM could reduce individual’s reliance on non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which often have serious side effects. It’s been shown that MSM can improve a person’s mobility by slowing down the breakdown of cartilage. It’s also believed to stimulate the formation of new connective tissue and enhance the body’s overall inflammatory response.
Possible Side Effects
MSM is believed to be safe when taken in proper doses. In some rare cases, users have experienced symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, itching, and fatigue. There is not enough research at this time to determine whether or not this supplement is safe for pregnant or nursing women.
Typically, a dose of MSM is between 1,000 and 3,000 mg daily. For those who are aiming to address a specific health condition, you may need to take more. Daily therapeutic doses are generally between 3,000 and 8,000 mg, divided throughout the day.
The effectiveness of a dose depends on how severe your condition is, the length of time MSM is taken for, and whether or not it’s taken with vitamin C (as this is believed to enhance its action). For some, it takes up to two months to notice any significant health benefits.
Like always, discuss supplementation with your doctor before taking your first dose. If you are taking any medications, speak with your doctor regarding any possible interactions.