Methylsulfonylmethane – or as it’s more widely known amongst the health community, MSM – is an organosulfur compound.
This naturally occurring sulfur is found in all vertebrates – although the extent of its importance still has yet to be explored. It can be obtained through a variety of food sources in small amounts, but occurs higher in [raw] nutritionally-dense foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage – as well as dairy products and certain cuts of meat. However, like many agricultural products today, depleted soils have significantly lowered the mineral contents in foods overall.
Unlike more common vitamin and mineral supplements, MSM is a bit of a dark horse, so to speak. Since taking off in the natural health community, many of its deeper benefits have been glanced over – a truly unfortunate oversight – in order to simply promote it as a muscle and joint pain relief agent. Despite its proven benefits and popularity amongst certain communities, lack of sufficient [incontrovertible] research along with mainstream skepticism has kept MSM from becoming a staple product for health and wellbeing.
That being said, there is still a wealth of information to be had both from studies that have been performed as well as an abundance of anecdotal feedback from the many years of global MSM users. Here are just a few of the benefits that have been attributed to MSM use:
· One of its best and most well-known uses involves pain management. Research has shown MSM to be effective against joint and muscle pain, stiffness, and soreness – helping conditions such as bursitis, tendonitis, and gout. Since sulfur is critical for the health and strength of joint tissues (e.g. cartilage), this component of MSM is of primary interest in conditions and stresses affecting those areas.
· Research has also shown MSM to be useful with various forms of arthritis – not only for pain management but as an anti-inflammatory agent as well, helping to reduce arthritic swelling.
· Many users of both internal and external MSM have reported softer, smoother, and more “elastic” skin resulting from its use.
· MSM helps protect against oxidative damage by aiding in the production of antioxidants like Glutathione.
· Scientists have begun to research the ability of MSM to sensitize drug-resistant microorganisms (e.g. MRSA) so as to make them penetrable by previously unsuccessful treatment methods. Supplementation may play both a protective role against such infections as well as an integral role in treatment and recovery.
· Although current research is insufficient, some studies have indicated minor benefits to respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergy.
· Numerous studies have successfully used MSM as a permeability enhancement agent topically, coupling it with a variety of therapies used on a wide spectrum of conditions. One such study paired MSM with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate to evaluate their use in treating alopecia, concluding:
“The effect of MSM on hair growth promotion of MAP was dose-proportional to the concentration of MSM due to the enhanced intradermal retention of MAP in the presence of MSM. Therefore, topical application of MAP together with MSM appears to be useful for the treatment of alopecia.”
This is just a small sampling of what MSM is, or maybe, capable of. Hopefully, science will continue to expand its knowledge on this under-rated nutrient so that we can better understand its biological role and potential primary or complementary function in treating a broad spectrum of conditions.
As always, please consult your physician if you are considering adding supplements to your routine.