suffering from Athritis?
Types of Arthritis
Facts about Arthritis
What is MSM? How was it developed?
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulfur compound that is found in unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and fish. Scientists believe MSM is involved in the formation of proteins in hair, muscle, skin and joints. Many sufferers of arthritis have found it can reduce their pain and inflammation.
Although MSM is naturally found in food sources, it was developed as a chemical compound derived from dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a highly researched but unproven remedy for arthritis pain and inflammation. The development of DMSO has been halted due to lack of FDA approval and unpleasant side-effects. This has not stopped dangerous preparations from finding their way on to the market. While many doctors are wary of DMSO, they believe its descendant, MSM, has great potential in treating arthritis symptoms.
How does MSM treat arthritis? Should I take MSM for my arthritis?
It is not clear how MSM reduces symptoms of arthritis. Researchers postulate that it inhibits pain impulses that travel along nerve fibers. Other hypotheses suggest it decreases muscle spasms, increases blood flow, helps repair cartilage and provides sulfur to tissues in the joint. Whatever the mode of action, patients have found it provides relief for many conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, goutGout, constipation, allergies, headaches, sinusitis and chronic back pain.
MSM is not a cure for rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis – rather it is thought of as a pain reliever. As such, it does not replace other medications you might be taking. Your doctor should be consulted before starting any treatment program.
What are the side effects of MSM? How much should I take?
Patients have experienced headaches, stomach upset, diarrhea, cramps and skin rashes when using MSM. If these occur, consult your doctor. Your doctor might tell you to lower the dose or suggest an alternative treatment. MSM also might have a blood-thinning effect. If you are taking an anticoagulant drug (blood-thinner), discuss this with your doctor. MSM is a relatively new development in arthritis therapy so little is known about its possible long-term effects and interactions with other drugs.
MSM is widely available over-the-counter in the form of powder, lotion, liquid, gel, cream and capsule. The suggested dosage is 500 mg orally two or three times a day. Some manufacturers suggest increasing the number of doses gradually until an effect is achieved. The lotion, cream and gel forms can be rubbed onto the skin for extra pain relief. If you don’t feel an effect when first using the MSM you should not automatically increase the dose. It may take over a month to begin working.
What have studies concluded about the safety and effectiveness of MSM?
There are few published studies concerning the safety or effectiveness of MSM. Most of the available information is drawn from animal studies. The lack of human studies has made it difficult to draw a definitive conclusion about MSM. None the less, many patients find MSM easy to tolerate and effective in managing the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. It is very important that you consult your doctor prior to starting any treatment program.
Authors: Katherine Fox, B.A., UMDNJ – Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ
Elise Weiss, M.D., New York-Presbyterian Hospital, The University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, New York, NY
- Horvath K, et al. Toxicity of methylsulfonylmethane in rats. Food
Chem Toxicol. 2002 Oct;40(10):1459-62.