Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Crystalline DMSO, dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, methyl sulfone, methyl sulfonyl methane, methyl-sulfonyl-methane, methylsulfonylmethane, MSM, MSM Relief, OptiMSM® 650mg, sulfonyl sulfur.
Combination product examples: AR7 Joint Complex (sternum collagen, methylsulfonylmethane, cetyl myristoleate, lipase, vitamin C, bromelain) (Robinson Pharma, Santa Ana, CA); FlexmaxTM Glucosamine with MSM (glucosamine sulfate potassium chloride, methylsulfonylmethane, maltodextrin, cellulose, stearic acid, modified cellulose, silica, glycerine); Flex-A-Min® Complete (glucosamine HCl, MSM, chondroitin complex, white willow, ginger, SAM-e, hyaluronic acid, collagen, Boswellia, citrus bioflavonoids); Osteo Bi-Flex: Plus MSM Smoothcap™ (glucosamine HCl, MSM/chondroitin complex, vitamin C, manganese, boron, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium carboxymethylcellulose, yellow 5 lake, crospovidone, magnesium stearate, yellow 6 lake, maltodextrin, dextrose, soy lecithin, sodium citrate, red 40 lake, blue 1 lake).
Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a form of organic sulfur that is found in many different fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals.
Evidence supporting the need for dietary MSM or the use of MSM as a source of dietary sulfur is lacking. MSM has been studied for its possible benefits for allergy symptoms affecting the nose, osteoarthritis, and antioxidant status. However, more research is needed.
MSM is generally well tolerated. However, studies on its long-term effects are lacking.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Studies suggest that MSM may have antioxidant activity in people who exercise. More research is needed to determine the proper dose.
MSM has been studied in the treatment of osteoarthritis (OA), both alone and combined with glucosamine, with possible small benefit. More studies on MSM and its effects on osteoarthritis are needed.
Early research suggests that a combination treatment containing MSM may reduce swelling and oxidative stress in people who have circulation problems. However, the effects of MSM alone need to be determined, as it may increase swelling. More research is needed.
Early research reports that MSM may help reduce hay fever symptoms. However, higher-quality studies are needed to confirm these findings.
A combination treatment containing MSM has been studied for possible effects on skin redness, itching, color, and bumps. However, the effects of MSM alone need to be determined. More research is needed.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Acne, allergic skin reactions, anti-spasm, burns, cancer, connective tissue disorders, constipation, cramps, diabetes, eye disorders, headache, heartburn, immune stimulation, inflammation, insect bites, interstitial cystitis (chronic inflamed bladder), liver disease, lung disease, lupus, mood enhancement, muscle and joint disorders, obesity, pain, parasites, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), radiation sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, scar prevention, sinus problems, skin conditions, snoring, stomach problems, tooth disease, wrinkle prevention.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
MSM comes in different doses and is found in many products. Adult doses range from 500 to 8,000 milligrams taken by mouth daily with or after meals.
To treat hay fever, 2,600 milligrams of MSM has been taken by mouth daily for up to 30 days.
As an antioxidant, a dose of 50 milligrams per kilogram of MSM in 200 milliliters of water has been taken by mouth daily for 10 days.
To treat osteoarthritis, 500 milligrams of MSM has been taken by mouth three times daily for up to 12 weeks. A dose of three grams of MSM has been taken by mouth twice daily for 12 weeks. A dose of 1.125 grams of MSM has been taken by mouth three times daily for 12 weeks.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for MSM in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid if allergic or sensitive to MSM.
Side Effects and Warnings
MSM is likely safe when taken by mouth in recommended doses of 500 milligrams daily to three grams twice daily for up to 12 weeks. Studies on the long-term effects of MSM are lacking.
Use cautiously in people who have stomach disorders. MSM may cause side effects such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, and mild stomach discomfort.
Use cautiously in people who have circulation problems, such as chronic venous insufficiency. MSM may cause increased swelling.
Use cautiously in people who have nervous system disorders. MSM may cause decreased concentration, headache, and sleep problems.
Use cautiously in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to a lack of safety data.
Avoid if allergic or sensitive to MSM.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of MSM during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
MSM may interact with agents that may be passed through the urine, agents that may affect the central nervous system, agents that may treat arthritis, agents that may treat skin conditions, agents that may treat stomach conditions, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory agents, laxatives, pain relievers, and sedatives.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
MSM may interact with antihistamines, anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements, antioxidants, herbs and supplements that may be passed through the urine, herbs and supplements that may affect the central nervous system, herbs and supplements that may treat arthritis, herbs and supplements that may treat skin conditions, herbs and supplements that may treat stomach conditions, laxatives, pain relievers, and sedatives.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Ameye LG, Chee WS. Osteoarthritis and nutrition. From nutraceuticals to functional foods: a systematic review of the scientific evidence. Arthritis Res Ther 2006;8(4):R127. View Abstract
Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, et al. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J.Altern.Complement Med. 2002;8(2):167-173. View Abstract
Berardesca E, Cameli N, Cavallotti C, et al. Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation. J Cosmet.Dermatol 2008;7(1):8-14. View Abstract
Brien S, Prescott P, Lewith G. Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evid.Based.Complement Alternat.Med 2011;2011:528403. View Abstract
Brien S, Prescott P, Bashir N, et al. Systematic review of the nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis.Cartilage. 2008;16(11):1277-1288. View Abstract
Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC.Complement Altern.Med 2011;11:50. View Abstract
Engelke UF, Tangerman A, Willemsen MA, et al. Dimethyl sulfone in human cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma confirmed by one-dimensional (1)H and two-dimensional (1)H-(13)C NMR. NMR Biomed. 2005;18(5):331-336. View Abstract
Gaby AR. Methylsulfonylmethane as a treatment for seasonal allergic rhinitis: more data needed on pollen counts and questionnaire. J.Altern.Complement Med. 2002;8(3):229. View Abstract
Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2006;14(3):286-294.
Xie Q, Shi R, Xu G, et al. Effects of AR7 Joint Complex on arthralgia for patients with osteoarthritis: results of a three-month study in Shanghai, China. Nutr.J 2008;7:31. View Abstract
Moazzami AA, Zhang JX, Kamal-Eldin A, et al. Nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics enable detection of the effects of a whole grain rye and rye bran diet on the metabolic profile of plasma in prostate cancer patients. J Nutr. 2011;141(12):2126-2132. View Abstract
Nakhostin-Roohi B, Barmaki S, Khoshkhahesh F, et al. Effect of chronic supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exercise in untrained healthy men. J Pharm.Pharmacol. 2011;63(10):1290-1294. View Abstract
Notarnicola A, Tafuri S, Fusaro L, et al. The "MESACA" study: methylsulfonylmethane and boswellic acids in the treatment of gonarthrosis. Adv.Ther 2011;28(10):894-906. View Abstract
Tripathi R, Gupta S, Rai S, et al. Effect of topical application of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), EDTA on pitting edema and oxidative stress in a double blind, placebo-controlled study. Cell Mol.Biol.(Noisy.-le-grand) 2011;57(1):62-69. View Abstract
Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24:353-363.
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017