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MSM - The forgotten anti-inflammatory agent.

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Joint pain? Given that glucosamine negatively influences insulin sensitivity, you may wish to consider MSM.


Chemical Name: Methylsulfonylmethane; dimethyl sulfone, DMS02, sulfonylbismethane and methyl sulfone.

Type of Supplement: Joint relief

WHAT IT IS: A water soluble, sulfur-containing compound found in plants and animals, MSM is a metabolite of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Found in cow’s milk, coffee and certain vegetables, MSM is usually extracted from Horsetail herb for use in dietary supplements, as this is a naturally high source of MSM.

HOW IT WORKS: Because MSM contains sulfur, it contributes to the formation of amino acids L-methionine and L-cysteine, both sulfur-containing amino acids important for healthy skin, joints, hair and nails. MSM can cross the blood-brain barrier1.

PRIMARY EFFECTS: MSM is primarily used for those with joint pain often associated with arthritis. A recent double-blind, placebo controlled study found that 3 grams of MSM twice per day given to subjects with knee pain from osteoarthritis displayed reduced symptoms of pain after 12 weeks2. MSM may also offer antioxidant activity. An in vitro study showed oxidative compounds by products were reduced in human neutrophils treated with MSM3. It may play a further role in immune support evidenced by its involvement in controlling allergic rhinitis. Allergy symptoms were reduced in patients receiving 2,600 mg of MSM per day for 30 days3. Finally, some studies show evidence MSM may play a role in cell differentiation in cancer cells3.

EFFECTIVE DOSAGE LEVEL: MSM is commonly used at levels of 1-3 grams/day, although research has utilized doses of up to 12 grams/day.

SUPPLEMENT CONFLICTS: Those on prescription medication may want to check with an allied health professional before using high doses of MSM.

SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, diarrhea and headache have been reported.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH IN LONGEVITY: As an anti-inflammatory agent and anti-oxidant, MSM may protect against accelerated cellular aging and decay.


1.    Physician’s Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements, 2001. Medical Economics, Thompson Healthcare.
2.    Kim LS, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94. Epub 2005 Nov 23.
3.    MSM. Alternative Medicine Review, Vol.8, No.4; 2003.