MSM Questions & Answers.

1. What is MSM?
2. What does MSM do?
3. How should I take MSM?
4. What are the possible side effects of MSM?
5. How safe is MSM?
6. How long should I take MSM?
7. How long will it take for me to feel the effects of MSM?
8. Is it safe to take with my other medications?
9. Should I take anything with MSM?
10. I'm allergic to sulfa drugs. Will I have a bad reaction to MSM?
11. I'm pregnant. Is MSM safe for me to take?
12. Can I give this stuff to my kids?
13. Debunking a few rumors.
14. What conditions does MSM help with?

1. What is MSM?

MSM is short for methylsulphonylmethane. It is a safe nutritional suppliment that can be used to help control pain, inflammation, and allergies, among many other things. It's toxicity level is close to that of tapwater. MSM has been used by veterinarians since the early 1980s and by humans since 1979. MSM is a metabolite (product of) DMSO, which is approved by the FDA for treatment of interstitial cystitis. DMSO gives the unpleasant side effect of a fish or oyster-like smell and taste in the person using it. MSM does not have this side effect. It is a sulfer molecule found in animal tissue, food, and the human body. Studies have shown that some of the MSM contained in your body is used for the production of methionine and cysteine, two amino acids.

2. What does MSM do?

MSM has been shown to help with several chronic conditions and has the following effects on the human body:

A. Analgesic. MSM has this effect in approxiamately 70% of the people taking it. Studies were done with DMSO regarding pain transmission along the C fiber network, which is the non-myelinated nerve fibers responsible for transmitting non-emergency pain. MSM is believed to have the same effect. No studies have been done with regard to the alpha-delta fibers, which is the system responsible for acute and protective pain.

B. Anti-inflammatory. DMSO has been shown in studies to make the body's natural anti-inflammatory, cortisol, more effective in smaller amounts. MSM is believed to have the same effect. DMSO has also been shown to inhibit the excess production of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are the primary cells that form connective tissues and are produced in excess in the swelling process. Excess fibroblasts lead to the formation of scar tissue. DMSO binds to fluids in swollen tissue and escorts it out of the body.

C. Passes through cellular membranes. It can be used as a transport for other medications.

D. Inhibits cholinesterase. Cholinesterase is an enzyme that stops excessive passage of nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another. It is also the enzyme mostly responsible for constipation.

E. Reduces muscle spasms.

F. Reduces scar tissue. By altering the crosslinking process in collagen, it helps to reduce the amount of scarring due to injury and sometimes helps to reduce old scarring.

G. Has antiparasitic qualities. Primarily for giardia, which causes diarrhea.

H. Has an immune normalizing effect. Helpful for such conditions as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.

I. Increases blood flow.

J. Potentially makes cell walls more permeable.

K. Increases nail and hair thickness and strength. Softens skin. Cosmetic benefits, yes. This happens due to an increase of cystine. Cystine is one of the amino acids that gives keratin its toughness. Keratin is one of the proteins found in these tissues.

L. Increased energy. A word of caution with regards to this. If you have not been active for a while, slowly return to your previous level of activity. If activity is increased too soon, you can set yourself back. Work yourself up slowly to avoid a backslide.

M. Decreased muscle soreness.

Lab studies done on rodents has shown that MSM helps to delay the onset of cancer, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

3. How should I take MSM?

It is available in capsule, powder, and topical form. MSM can be mixed into any beverage and absorbs better in higher temperatures. The smallest dose that gives you the most benefit is optimal. More isn't better, just more. It's best to find the individual dose that works for you. 2000mg (2g) tends to work for general maintainance and health. More is required depending on the individual and their condition. Too much can lead to gastrointestinal problems, headache, or rash.

The more your body needs, the more you will be able to tolerate. An increased dosage may be needed during times of extra stress, flares, and whatnot. Under a doctor's supervision, some people have taken 100g/day (100,000mg) and not suffered any adverse side effects.

Some people have found relief from sore throats by using MSM as a mouthwash. Sinisitus sufferers have found relief by using a 15% solution of MSM and water as a nasal spray. It can also been mixed into a powder and applied to gums as a treatment for gingivitis.

Some have found it helps with GERD and have been able to reduce the amount of medication taken for that. Start with alternating days of MSM and the medication and eventually, you may not need the medication anymore. A controlled diet is still necessary, however.

Most allergy symptoms are due to inflammation and immune weakness. It acts by inhibiting the reception of histamine, which keeps the inflammation and fluid build-up to a minimum.

4. What are the possible side effects of MSM?

The most common side effect is gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea), rash, and headache. Taking MSM with food tends to decrease the GI upset. If you take too much, expect to spend some extra time in the bathroom. Minor cramping is also possible.

MSM can cause a thinning of the blood, so if you're taking blood thinners, make sure to check with your doctor before beginning this. It is usually safe to take, but you may require a lowering of the dosage of your other medication due to this effect.

5. How safe is MSM?

It has been shown to have 1/7 the toxicity of table salt. i.e. It's 7 times safer than table salt. In a study done on humans, MSM was shown to have no negative side effects at 1 g/kg body weight. That means around 68 g/day for a 150-pound person. In tests on animals, the LD-50 test findings were for more than 20 g/kg body weight.

6. How long should I take MSM?

Long term studies have shown no negative drawbacks to MSM. People who take it regularly tend to have fewer colds and viral infections, but there have been no studies done on this effect. MSM is not a cure, but some people do find that the effects continue even after they stop taking it.

7. How long will it take for me to feel the effects of MSM?

That depends on a few factors. The longer you've had the condition, the longer it tends to take to feel the full effects of MSM. In some chronic conditions, it could take up to a year to feel the effects. Some people feel the effects within days.

8. Is it safe to take with my other medications?

After 20 years, it has not been shown to interfere with any prescription medications. Sometimes the effects of MSM can lead to a decreased need for prescription medications, but, as always, consult with your doctor before decreasing or discontinuing your medication.

DMSO has been shown to conteract platlet aggregation (clotting), but no studies have been done on this with MSM. Observation, however, points towards MSM having the same effect.

9. Should I take anything with MSM?

Many people are finding that taking at least one part Vitamin C to four parts MSM helps its effectiveness. Vitamin C by itself has been shown to reduce pain. However, there have been no studies done that support this.

10. I'm allergic to sulfa drugs. Will I have a bad reaction to MSM?

No. Sulfa drugs are sulfites. MSM is a sulfur compound, but is not a sulfite.

11. I'm pregnant. Is MSM safe for me to take?

Check with your doctor. Clinical experience has shown no problems with this though.

12. Can I give this stuff to my kids?

Children don't tend to need it, but it has been taken by children as young as two with no bad effects.

13. Debunking a few rumors.

DMSO has been shown to be an antioxidant. There have been no studies on MSM to this effect.

DMSO has the effect of binding with some toxic metals and removing them from the body. Sufficient studies have not been done with regards to this with MSM.

DMSO does make cell walls more permeable. MSM is believed to, but has not been studied to this effect. MSM does pass through some cell walls, but there is no evidence that it allows other substances to pass through more easily.

There are reports of MSM helping with Candida. However, no studies have been done on this.

Clinical evidence shows that MSM does help to speed the healing of musculoskeletal injuries and inflammation.

In studies on mice, MSM has been shown to delay the onset of certain kinds of cancer. DMSO has been shown to alter cancerous cells in such a way to make them more susceptable to treatments. More research is needed to see if this effect is the same with MSM.

MSM does help people breathe more easily. That does not mean it cures emphysema. It has been shown to help, though.

14. What conditions does MSM help with?

I was debating on whether or not to add this section, since it makes MSM sound like snake oil. Most of the effects are felt because of the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects.

Crohn's disease
Ulcerative colitis
Osteoarthritis (glucosamine sulfate has also been shown to help with this, but little effect was seen with chondriton sulfate.)
Heberden's nodes
Back pain
Herniated discs
Heartburn and hyperacidity
Headaches, including some migraines, mostly due to the anti-spasmodic effect and increased blood flow.
Chemical sensitivities
Athletic injuries
Muscle pain
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
Rheumatoid arthritis
Interstitial cystitis
Keloid reduction

FAQ compiled by based primarily information contained in _The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain_ by Stanley W. Jacobs, MD, Ronald M. Lawrence, MD, Ph.D, and Martin Zucker.
The text-only version of this FAQ can be found online at

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