What Is the Supplement MSM Good For?

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Methylsulfonylmethane, which is often abbreviated to MSM, is a sulfurous substance that is found naturally in your body. MSM is sold as nutritional supplements for a variety of health-promoting purposes. As with any nutritional supplement you should talk to your health care practitioner before supplementing with MSM.

MSM Basics

MSM is found in food and dietary sources, including fruits and vegetables, alfalfa, fish, grains, certain species of algae, milk, tea, and coffee. MSM is also produced in your body, which means that you do not need to obtain it from your diet in order to sustain life. Due to the sulfur that is naturally contained in MSM, it helps to detoxify heavy metals and promotes healthy liver function. In addition, certified nutritional consultant Phyllis Balch says in her book, "Prescription for Nutritional Healing," that MSM promotes healthy hair, skin and nails.

MSM and Inflammatory Disorders

Alternative medical practitioners suggest that MSM supplements help treat chronic pain and a variety of inflammatory disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, bursitis, tenosynovitis, tendinitis and eye inflammation. According to "Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database," MSM is arguably most commonly used for the treatment of osteoarthritis, and multiple studies have found that 3 g of MSM, twice daily, can modestly reduce osteoarthritis-related pain and swelling and enhance joint function. It should be noted, however, that some patients may not consider the modest benefit to be clinically significant.

MSM and Allergies

MSM helps to reduce histamine in your body, which is the inflammatory substance responsible for many allergy symptoms. MSM is therefore recommended by some alternative medicine practitioners for the treatment of allergies. "Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database" warns that as of 2011, only one clinical study has examined the effectiveness of MSM as an anti-allergy treatment. The study was cited in the April 2002 edition of "Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine" and it examined the effects of MSM on seasonal allergic rhinitis. The 50 subjects who participated were given 2,600 mg of MSM daily for 30 days. At the end of the study, the participants experienced a reduction in respiratory and nasal symptoms as well as an increase in energy.

Additional Uses

People also use MSM to help treat muscle cramps and pain, asthma, depression, scleroderma, scar tissue, stretch marks, hair loss, wrinkles, periodontal disease, gastrointestinal upset, chronic constipation, interstitial cystitis, gastric hyperacidity, ulcers, diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome, poor circulation, hypertension and elevated serum cholesterol. In addition, MSM is used to help protect against sunburn and windburn and to promote wound healing. More research needs to be done to confirm the efficacy of MSM for these purposes, however.