Last updated: 04/20/2020

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Year after year, the supplementation industry continues to offer new products designed to improve our quality of life. Today, we want to look at a product that was forgotten during the 1990s and that is now regaining popularity. Welcome to our article on methylsulfonylmethane, better known as MSM.

This organic sulfur derivative has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This ‘collagen for vegans’, as some people nickname it, is commonly taken to preserve joint and muscle health. Besides, studies have recently claimed that this supplement could also enhance hair growth. So, how can you benefit from MSM?

Key Facts

  • MSM is a sulfur-based organic compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Continued use of MSM may accelerate muscle recovery, decrease joint pain, and improve skin appearance.
  • There are various aspects that you have to take into account before purchasing your own MSM supplement. These include medical treatments, potential allergic reactions, the route of administration, or the value for money of the product. Note that MSM is suitable for vegan and vegetarian individuals.

Our Selection: The Best MSM Supplements on the U.S. Market

In the following section, you will discover our very own selection of the best methylsulfonylmethane supplements currently available on the market. We have also included a short description of each product to help you determine which is best suitable for you. In addition, they offer great value for money and have received high ratings from past consumers.

Best MSM Powder

This large pack gives you 2.2 pounds of MSM powder, which you can then easily dissolve in water or your protein shake to reap all its benefits. The manufacturer recommends taking 1,000 to 1,300 mg up to 4 times a day for optimal results. The powder form is ideal for athletes looking to promote muscle recovery after intense training sessions.

Best MSM Supplement for Joint Health

Including MSM, glucosamine, and chondroitin, as well as natural plant-based products such as turmeric and Boswellia, this supplement is designed to support joint health by boosting their mobility and supporting their structure and tissues. Recommended use is 3 times a day for healthy adults, with each bottle offering 180 tablets. Note that this product is not vegetarian-friendly.

Best MSM Cream

If you prefer opting for a topical solution to help your joints and skin, this lotion by NOW Solutions is a high-quality, affordable option. This 8-ounce tube consists of MSM, glucosamine, and Arnica montana extract. Simply apply the lotion to the target area and wait to reap all the benefits of this Amazon’s Choice product!

Most Versatile MSM Supplement

You can’t decide whether you want to take your MSM supplement orally or topically? Worry not, for we have the product you need. You can add DexterityHealth’s liquid MSM drops to your beverages or use them directly in your eyes if you suffer from floaters or damaged vessels. Besides, you can use it topically as well.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About MSM

MSM is a product that combines sulfur with other organic substances to create anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Particularly appreciated in alternative medicine, this new dietary supplement is attributed with the ability to relieve pain, improve physical performance, and keep aging at bay.

Senior people preparing healthy dinner

A varied diet with animal and vegetable products can provide you with enough sulfur.
(Source: Bialasiewciz: 96536327/ 123rf.com)

What is MSM exactly?

Methylsulfonylmethane, better known by its acronym MSM, is an organic compound found in nature. Algae, plankton, and other ocean microorganisms can convert sulfur into MSM, releasing it into the marine environment. A small amount of this compound then evaporates and reaches the earth’s surface, integrating the most fertile soils.

MSM becomes part of fruits (such as apples), vegetables (such as chards), and even products from animals fed on grasses rich in this compound (such as cow milk). When we consume these foods, MSM becomes part of our cells and is distributed evenly throughout our bodies (1).

Its properties seem to derive from its capacity to penetrate our cells, where it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (2). We haven’t entirely been able to understand the mechanisms by which this fascinating supplement exerts its beneficial actions. That being said, research has shown that MSM can influence the following body processes:

  • Source of sulfur: Some studies believe that MSM could transfer its sulfur atoms to other components present in our bodies, therefore promoting its normal functioning. Amino acids, such as methionine and cysteine, may take advantage of this compound to form proteins necessary for the optimal growth of our tissues (1, 3).
  • Reduction of oxidation: Our cells produce numerous reactive oxygen species (known as free radicals) daily. If they accumulate in excess, free radicals can damage our tissues and accelerate the aging process (or oxidation). MSM could bind to these radicals and minimize their harmful actions (1, 4).
  • Control of inflammations: Experts have observed that MSM inhibits or hinders the synthesis of the chemical compounds responsible for a large part of the body’s inflammatory processes, possibly preventing excessive and harmful activation of this defensive system (1, 4).
  • Regulation of the immune system: Our immune system’s daily job is to protect us from all kinds of germs and toxins. However, excessive activation of our defenses can lead to harmful short and long-term effects. MSM could act as a regulator that prevents these excesses (1, 5).
Beautiful young girl holding apple

MSM may have antioxidant properties.
(Source: Drobot: 120353662/ 123rf.com)

Which foods are rich in MSM?

Studies have linked the effectiveness of MSM to its content in sulfur. This mineral is the third most abundant in our body, with calcium and phosphorus being the only ones with higher concentrations. While a recommended intake of sulfur hasn’t been defined to this day, experts suspect that its consumption is essential to maintain good health (6, 7).

A varied diet with animal and vegetable products can provide us with sufficient sulfur. That being said, you should add specific foods to your diet if you want to raise your sulfur levels while obtaining antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (1, 6):

  • Milk
  • Tomatoes
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Apples
  • Raspberries
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Beer

Plants that grow in MSM-rich soils will naturally have a higher concentration of this compound. Besides, highly processed foods have a lower content than products of organic or green origin. Overcooking food can also decrease the content of this sulfur derivative.

Unfortunately, you can only obtain a negligible amount of MSM through your diet. Numerous factors, such as an unbalanced intestinal microbiota or the consumption of drugs such as paracetamol, can prevent the absorption and storage of this compound. In these cases, opting for an MSM supplement is a more effective alternative .

What are the benefits of MSM supplements?

In 1981, Dr. Robert Herschler filed a patent for MSM after identifying it as a useful supplement for improving skin and nail texture. In subsequent experiments, this research chemist claimed to have discovered anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and analgesic properties in MSM supplements.

Dr. Herschler conducted numerous tests on MSM, affirming to obtain promising results. We have compiled his findings in the table below. Please note that these results need to be corroborated by independent sources before they can be accepted without reservation (10, 11).

Experiment Type of study Findings
Antiparasitic In vitro (in test tubes) MSM destroys certain intestinal and urogenital parasites.
Muscle cramp relief Combination of 50-500 mg of MSM and vitamin C in volunteers Symptomatic relief of muscle cramp
Oral hygiene Addition of MSM to regular toothpaste Reduction of gum inflammation and healing of canker sores
Maintenance of optimal health Addition of 250-500 mg of MSM to the diet of 14 previously healthy individuals Absence of disease during the supplementation period.

Subjective feeling of well-being.

Improvement of skin appearance Daily administration of 100-1,000 mg of MSM daily to people with acne, rosacea or telangiectasia Subjective improvement of skin condition over several weeks
Mood stabilizer Administration of MSM to healthy subjects Subjective feeling of alertness, calm, and tranquility
Improvement of concentration  Administration of MSM to students Subjective feeling of increased focus during the study
Improved mood Administration of 1,000 mg per kilogram of weight to people with a history of depression Subjective feeling of improved mood in a matter of hours
Cicatrization Administration of 0.1 gram of MSM per kilogram to wounded animals Accelerated wound healing compared with placebo
Treatment of diabetes complications Administration of 500 mg of MSM and 250 mg of vitamin C to a diabetic patient Accelerated wound healing.

Improved blood glucose control in subsequent tests.

Analgesic Administration of 1.5 grams of MSM to a patient with renal colic Pain relief
Prevention of sunburn Ingestion of 0.5-2 grams of MSM per day in healthy individuals Reduction of the intensity of sun damage
Prevention of post-exercise fatigue Ingestion of 1-2 grams per day for six months in healthy volunteers Reduction of the time needed for recovery after intense efforts

In addition, MSM has often been associated with the ability to accelerate hair growth. The consumption of an adequate amount of sulfur could indeed promote normal hair growth. However, MSM has only been scientifically linked to the growth of rodent fur so far (12).

In short, MSM is a supplement with virtually endless potential. Its biochemical profile needs to be studied further in the coming years to identify its real properties better. For now, the scientific community has found evidence of potential usefulness in the following cases (1):

  • Management of arthritis symptoms: The use of MSM, in combination with glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, has been tested in small samples of individuals affected by osteoarthritis. A subjective improvement of symptoms was observed.
  • Maintenance of joint structure: In animal models, MSM is able to inhibit the synthesis of inflammatory markers, improving (but not completely preventing) the degradation of cartilage.
  • Improved joint mobility: The combined supplementation of MSM, vitamin D, glucosamine, and guava leaf extract had a small positive effect on the mobility of patients with knee arthrosis.
  • Reduction of exercise-related fatigue: A decrease in inflammation and pain related to strenuous exercise was observed in several samples of individuals who had previously supplemented with MSM.
  • Reduction of oxidative stress: MSM supplementation for 28 days or more reduced stress markers in both humans and animals, showing promising antioxidant properties.
  • Improvement of allergic symptoms: Supplementing with MSM for 30 days produced a decrease in histamine levels (a compound closely related to the production of the allergic response) and subjectively reduced the symptoms of pollen allergy in tested individuals.
  • Improvement of skin texture: The integration of MSM into lotions has shown some efficacy in the treatment of rosacea, chloasma, and acne. It also improved the appearance of wrinkles and expression lines to a certain extent. Ingesting MSM also appears to cause similar effects.
close up of different food items on table

MSM may reduce the time needed for your muscles to recover.
(Source: Dolgachov: 54776181/ 123rf.com)

How can I use my MSM supplement?

There is no defined recommended daily allowance (RDA) for MSM, which is why you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions at all times. In the table below, you can learn more about the main dosages and routes of administration (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18):

Goal Route of administration Dose Duration of supplementation
Improvement of osteoarthritis Oral 300 mg/day of MSM (with glucosamine, vitamin D, and guava extract) 16 weeks
Control of inflammation Oral 1,000 mg of MSM twice daily (with glucosamine and other antioxidants) 12 weeks
Reduction of muscular pain Oral 3,000 mg/day of MSM 7 weeks
Antihistamine Oral 2,600 mg/day of MSM 30 days
Anti-wrinkle Oral 3,000 mg/day 16 weeks
Anti-wrinkle Topical Two applications of cream per day (MSM and flavonoids) 30 days

As you can see, you will have to supplement for at least one month before witnessing any effect derived from the use of MSM. Also, the combination of this supplement with other compounds such as glucosamine, vitamin D, or vitamin C could help increase the absorption and effectiveness of this sulfur-derived supplement.

Is MSM supplementation safe?

No severe adverse reactions have been reported concerning its use at present. The most common side effects are gastrointestinal (diarrhea, flatulence, and pain) and can be reduced by lowering the dose until the user develops some tolerance to the effects of the supplement.

That being said, the intake of excessive doses could have serious effects on human health. This is why taking more than 3,000-4,000 mg per day of MSM is strongly discouraged. The consumption of alcohol during supplementation should also be responsible because this supplement may increase sensitivity to it.

Another possible complication of MSM supplementation derives from its anti-inflammatory potential.

Nitric oxide is an inflammatory substance that is also involved in blood pressure control (19). MSM may decrease the body’s nitric oxide content, therefore worsening hypertension in people predisposed to this cardiovascular disorder (1, 20).

Finally, it is important to remember that MSM dietary supplements are relatively new. Their safety in chronically ill people, children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers has not been evaluated. If you find yourself in any of these cases, we recommend you consult your physician before starting supplementation.

Buyer’s Guide

Knowing which type of MSM product is right for you can be a real challenge. The absence of recommended dosage and use by the scientific community means that low-quality supplements can be found on the market. Here are some criteria that will help you make your decision:

Medical Interactions

There have been no reports of interactions between MSM and the most commonly used drugs. However, you should consult your doctor if you are taking medication for any serious or chronic condition, such as:

  • Insulin
  • Metformin
  • Antithyroid drugs
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Antihistamines
  • Chemotherapy
  • Statins (cholesterol medication)
  • Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anxiolytics
  • Contraceptives
  • Antibiotics
Conceptual composition of salt and pepper on spoons and bowls over light background, top view, close-up

Vegan and vegetarian individuals can use MSM as an alternative to collagen supplements.
(Source: Резин: 97612051/ 123rf.com)

Vegan or Vegetarian Diet

The vegan and vegetarian community widely uses MSM supplements. Some people claim that this dietary supplement works as a ‘vegan collagen’ that can reduce joint pain for anyone following plant-based diets. This is why the vast majority of products with MSM are, therefore, suitable for vegan individuals.

Allergies & Intolerances

No intolerances related to the use of MSM have been described. That being said, we recommend that you pay attention to your body’s reactions during the first few days or weeks of supplementation with this sulfur derivative. Stop use immediately and seek medical help if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Skin rash and itching
  • Worsening of allergy symptoms
  • Feeling of choking or lack of air
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat

Route of Administration

You can consume MSM orally, topically, or intravenously. While the former is the most widely used for the improvement of muscle and joint pain, creams and lotions may improve the appearance of the skin and hair. This also prevents the side effects associated with the intake of MSM (gastrointestinal intolerance and hypertension).

dreamful woman

MSM supplements are available in cream, lotion, capsule, or powder form.
(Source: Kiselev: 42782968/ 123rf.com)

Summary

MSM is an increasingly popular substance in the world of alternative medicine. While this compound has been used as a food supplement since the 1980s, its true potential remains unexplored by the pharmaceutical industry. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects are, however, very promising.

You can add this supplement to your lotions or creams or take it as a supplement and see its reparative effects unfold before you. Are you ready to discover the full potential of MSM?

We hope that you found our guide on MSM informative and helpful. Don’t forget to leave us a comment in the section below and to share this article on your social media!

(Source of featured image: Алексей Резин: 98191084/ 123rf.com)

References (20)

1. Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2019 Sep 11];24(6):353–63.
Source

2. Hermann M, Flammer A, Lüscher TF. Nitric oxide in hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) [Internet]. 2006 Dec [cited 2019 Sep 15];8(12 Suppl 4):17–29.
Source

3. Effects of Oral Supplementation With Methylsulfonylmethane on Skin Health and Wrinkle Reduction | Natural Medicine Journal [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 15].
Source

4. Berardesca E, Cameli N, Cavallotti C, Levy JL, Piérard GE, De Paoli Ambrosi G. Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: Clinical and instrumental evaluation. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Mar;7(1):8–14.
Source

5. Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, Schiller RN. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med [Internet]. 2002 Apr [cited 2019 Sep 15];8(2):167–73.
Source

6. Withee ED, Tippens KM, Dehen R, Hanes D. Effects of MSM on exercise-induced muscle and joint pain: a pilot study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Dec;12(S1).
Source

7. Tant L, Gillard B, Appelboom T. Open-label, randomized, controlled pilot study of the effects of a glucosamine complex on low back pain. Curr Ther Res - Clin Exp. 2005 Nov;66(6):511–21.
Source

8. Nakasone Y, Watabe K, Watanabe K, Tomonaga A, Nagaoka I, Yamamoto T, et al. Effect of a glucosamine-based combination supplement containing chondroitin sulfate and antioxidant micronutrients in subjects with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: A pilot study. Exp Ther Med. 2011 Sep;2(5):893–9.
Source

9. Shanmugam S, Baskaran R, Nagayya-Sriraman S, Yong CS, Choi HG, Woo JS, et al. The effect of methylsulfonylmethane on hair growth promotion of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate for the treatment of alopecia. Biomol Ther. 2009 Jul;17(3):241–8.
Source

10. Herschler RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane and Methods of Use. US Pat 4,296,130. 1979;
Source

11. Herschler RJ. Use of Methylsulfonylmethane to treat parasitic infections. United States Pat [ 19 ]. 1989;(4):3–6.
Source

12. MSM: On Our Way Back to Health w/ Sulfur - SPANISHMSM: On Our Way Back to ... - Google Libros [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 12].
Source

13. Belizário JE, Faintuch J. Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis. Exp Suppl [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 8];109:459–76.
Source

14. Sulfur: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 13].
Source

15. Nimni ME, Han B, Cordoba F. Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet? Vol. 4, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2007.
Source

16. Kloesch B, Liszt M, Broell J, Steiner G. Dimethyl sulphoxide and dimethyl sulphone are potent inhibitors of IL-6 and IL-8 expression in the human chondrocyte cell line C-28/I2. Life Sci [Internet]. 2011 Sep 26 [cited 2019 Sep 12];89(13–14):473–8.
Source

17. Beilke MA, Collins-Lech C, Sohnle PG. Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on the oxidative function of human neutrophils. J Lab Clin Med [Internet]. 1987 Jul [cited 2019 Sep 12];110(1):91–6.
Source

18. Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sci. 1986 Jul 21;39(3):263–8.
Source

19. van der Merwe M, Bloomer RJ. The Influence of Methylsulfonylmethane on Inflammation-Associated Cytokine Release before and following Strenuous Exercise. J Sports Med. 2016;2016:1–9.
Source

20. Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Vol. 9, Nutrients. MDPI AG; 2017.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Ava Kirk Medical Journalist
Ava has specialized in medical journalism and not only writes about the human body, but also knows her way around food supplements. She also studied sports science in college.
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, Double-Blind, Parallel, Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Investig [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2019 Sep 11];24(6):353–63.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Hermann M, Flammer A, Lüscher TF. Nitric oxide in hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich) [Internet]. 2006 Dec [cited 2019 Sep 15];8(12 Suppl 4):17–29.
Go to source
Estudio médico
Effects of Oral Supplementation With Methylsulfonylmethane on Skin Health and Wrinkle Reduction | Natural Medicine Journal [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 15].
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Berardesca E, Cameli N, Cavallotti C, Levy JL, Piérard GE, De Paoli Ambrosi G. Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: Clinical and instrumental evaluation. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Mar;7(1):8–14.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, Schiller RN. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med [Internet]. 2002 Apr [cited 2019 Sep 15];8(2):167–73.
Go to source
Estudio científico
Withee ED, Tippens KM, Dehen R, Hanes D. Effects of MSM on exercise-induced muscle and joint pain: a pilot study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Dec;12(S1).
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Tant L, Gillard B, Appelboom T. Open-label, randomized, controlled pilot study of the effects of a glucosamine complex on low back pain. Curr Ther Res - Clin Exp. 2005 Nov;66(6):511–21.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Nakasone Y, Watabe K, Watanabe K, Tomonaga A, Nagaoka I, Yamamoto T, et al. Effect of a glucosamine-based combination supplement containing chondroitin sulfate and antioxidant micronutrients in subjects with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis: A pilot study. Exp Ther Med. 2011 Sep;2(5):893–9.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Shanmugam S, Baskaran R, Nagayya-Sriraman S, Yong CS, Choi HG, Woo JS, et al. The effect of methylsulfonylmethane on hair growth promotion of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate for the treatment of alopecia. Biomol Ther. 2009 Jul;17(3):241–8.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Herschler RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane and Methods of Use. US Pat 4,296,130. 1979;
Go to source
Artículo científico
Herschler RJ. Use of Methylsulfonylmethane to treat parasitic infections. United States Pat [ 19 ]. 1989;(4):3–6.
Go to source
Libro científico
MSM: On Our Way Back to Health w/ Sulfur - SPANISHMSM: On Our Way Back to ... - Google Libros [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 12].
Go to source
Artículo científico
Belizário JE, Faintuch J. Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis. Exp Suppl [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 8];109:459–76.
Go to source
Artículo científico
Sulfur: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning [Internet]. [cited 2019 Sep 13].
Go to source
Artículo científico
Nimni ME, Han B, Cordoba F. Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet? Vol. 4, Nutrition and Metabolism. 2007.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Kloesch B, Liszt M, Broell J, Steiner G. Dimethyl sulphoxide and dimethyl sulphone are potent inhibitors of IL-6 and IL-8 expression in the human chondrocyte cell line C-28/I2. Life Sci [Internet]. 2011 Sep 26 [cited 2019 Sep 12];89(13–14):473–8.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Beilke MA, Collins-Lech C, Sohnle PG. Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on the oxidative function of human neutrophils. J Lab Clin Med [Internet]. 1987 Jul [cited 2019 Sep 12];110(1):91–6.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sci. 1986 Jul 21;39(3):263–8.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
van der Merwe M, Bloomer RJ. The Influence of Methylsulfonylmethane on Inflammation-Associated Cytokine Release before and following Strenuous Exercise. J Sports Med. 2016;2016:1–9.
Go to source
Artículo científico de Pubmed
Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Vol. 9, Nutrients. MDPI AG; 2017.
Go to source