ABSTRACT: Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), a naturally occurring
dietary derivative of DMSO, serves as an important source
of bioavailable dietary sulfur and, when administered
orally, is effective in ameliorating symptoms of physiological
response to stress including gastrointestinal upset, inflammation
of the mucous membranes, pain associated with musculoskeletal
system disorders, and infectant allergens. MSM appears
to augment immunological competence through a natural,
vitamin-like moderating or normalizing activity for various
body functions and is noted for its exceptionally non-toxic
nature. MSM has proved useful as a dietary supplement
for both children and adults, including geriatric patients.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring
sulfur containing compound with multiple functions in
the body. MSM is naturally present in body fluids and
tissues and is found in milk and a variety of fruits,
vegetables, and grains in small amounts. At low levels
of ingestion, it functions as a normal dietary ingredient
and assimilable source of essential dietary sulfur. At
higher levels it functions as a pharma-ceutically active
agent which can be used safely and effectively for a variety
The development of MSM as a dietary supplement stemmed
from research on DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide). As a stable,
odorless dietary metabolite of DMSO, MSM possesses certain
biomedical properties similar to DMSO together with additional
biological activity not possessed by DMSO. MSM, unlike
DMSO, is a dietary factor and is free of the unpleasant
odor found with the use of DMSO. MSM, like DMSO, enhances
urinary taurine secretion produced by aromatic hydrocarbons
in man and neutralizes the toxicity of anticholinesterases,
thereby providing protection against insecticide exposure
Nutritional implications of MSM
MSM, and many precursor compounds which are readily
converted to MSM in the body, are found in most natural,
unprocessed foods. However, because of its volatility,
it is readily lost when fresh food is processed and/or
stored. Unless the diet consists largely of raw, unprocessed
foods, it is unlikely that sufficient MSM will be ingested
to contribute significantly to the daily nutritional sulfur
requirement, thus furthering the high incidence of sulfur-deficient
diets which exist globally.
Sulfur plays an indispensable role in human nutrition
which is often overlooked. It is responsible for the conformation
of body proteins through the formation of disulfide bonds,
thereby holding connective tissue together. Thiol (i.e.
sulfhydryl) groups are vital for the catalytic function
of several body enzymes. To perform these roles, constant
intake of assimilable sulfur is needed by the body.
Although MSM has not yet been established to be a vitamin,
it does have a vitamin-like moderating or normalizing
activity for various body functions, as there appears
to be a high correlation between abnormal physiological
symptoms and low MSM blood levels in human beings. Although
MSM is found as a natural constituent of foodstuffs, like
vitamin D, the principle supply is believed to be synthesized
by the body using one of its naturally occurring precursor
compounds. Also, excretion data show that MSM occurs in
lower concentrations with increasing age. Too low a body
concentration of MSM may potentially result in adverse
physical and psychological stress, tissue and organ malfunction,
fatigue, and increased susceptibility to disease.
Effects of oral administration of MSM dietary supplements
Oral preparations of MSM have been found useful
in the normalization of body functions in patients displaying
physiological symptoms of stress, particularly those sources
of stress which cause gastrointestinal upset, inflammation
of mucous membranes, and allergic reactions. MSM ameliorates
these symptoms thereby permitting more rapid recovery.
Conditions which have favorably responded to oral MSM
include the following:
MSM has a broad and profound beneficial effect in
ameliorating diverse allergic responses. MSM ameliorates
allergic reactions to inhalant, ingestant, contact, and
infectant allergens. Subjects find a direct correlation
between concentration of MSM used and resistance to allergens.
Environmental Allergies: Subjects with chronic to severe
allergies to environmental materials such as house dust,
pollen, wool, animal hair, feathers, and other diverse
allergens report substantial to complete relief of their
allergy symptoms after successive daily doses of MSM varying
from 50 to 1000 mg. per day. Allergy symptoms ranged from
respiratory congestion to inflammation, itching, mucoid
discharges, and general discomfort. Although MSM alone
may not totally eliminate allergic responses, the majority
of subjects report a significant reduction in concurrent
anti-allergy medication required to keep their allergic
symptoms to a minimum. Individuals with allergic asthma
or hay fever typically report equivalent or better control
of symptoms with one-quarter or less of the prior required
level of medication.
Food and Drug Allergies: Individuals who manifest an
allergic response to drugs, such as aspirin, non-steroidal
anti-arthritic agents (Indocin7, Motrin7)
and oral antibiotics, as well as those who are mildly
to severely allergic to various foods, such as cereals,
shrimp and other seafood, milk, etc., report either a
lessened intolerance or a complete tolerance to these
substances when ingesting 100 to 1000 mg. of MSM concurrently.
Thus, a major application of MSM may be as a safeguard
against allergic response to orally ingested drugs, foods,
or beverages which are allergens or irritants to individuals
sensitive to these substances.
MSM is effective in ameliorating
gastrointestinal upset such as that produced by the ingestion
of aspirin and other pharmaceuticals or parasitic infections.
Individuals with gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea,
chronic constipation, nausea, hyperacidity and/or epigastric
pain, or inflammation of mucous membranes experience dramatic
relief through the oral administration of 500-1500 mg.
of MSM daily.
PAIN ASSOCIATED WITH SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATORY DISORDERS
Individuals presenting signs and symptoms of pain
and inflammation associated with various musculoskeletal
system disorders, including arthritis, reported substantial
and long lasting relief while including from 100 to 5000
mg. of MSM in their daily diet. Most, trying first MSM
alone, then a combination with ascorbic acid, reported
greater benefit with the combination.
The use of MSM with ascorbic acid is particularly useful
in correcting night leg cramps. MSM is capable of reducing
the incidence of or entirely eliminating leg and back
cramps, muscle spasms, and general soreness, particularly
in geriatric patients who experience cramps at night or
after long periods of inactivity. It is also effective
for athletes who experience severe leg cramps during their
sports activity. Migraine suffers have also obtained substantial
relief at oral doses of 50-500 mg. MSM per day while arthritic
patients report relief from pain and stiffness as well
as reduced swelling and inflammation.
In vitro and in vivo tests suggest that MSM has
ameliorating or curing activity against a variety of medically
important parasitic, microbial, and fungal problems of
the intestinal and urogenital tracts. MSM is active against
Giardia lamblia (traveler=s diarrhea), Trichomonas vaginalis,
Nematodes, Enterobius and other intestinal worms, systemic
infections by Histoplasma capsulation, Coccidioides Toxo-plasm
and other in vitro susceptible organisms. Effective doses
have been in the range of 750-1500 mg. per day. MSM may
affect such infections by competing for binding or receptor
sites at the mucous membrane surface presenting a blocking
interface between host and parasite. MSM appears to augment
immunological competence which may also partly explain
its effectiveness in treating parasitic infections.
Dosage and Administration Considerations
A single dose of MSM is usually not effective in
ameliorating symptoms. Thus, MSM is usually administered
periodically throughout the day or on successive days,
or both. Noticeable results are usually seen within 2
to 21 days. The amount of MSM in each dose is not critical.
The usual individual dose is about 100-1000 mg., preferably
250-500 mg. Total daily dosages of 100-5000 mg., preferably
250-2000 mg. are usually employed.
The effective dosage depends to some extent on the nature
and severity of symptoms manifested, the cause of those
symptoms, and the MSM blood level of the patient prior
to administration. Healthy persons appear to have MSM
blood levels of at least 1 ppm, while patients displaying
the above mentioned symptoms often have depressed MSM
blood levels. Blood sampling for MSM, however, is not
ordinarily required because oral ingestion of amounts
of MSM in excess of that required to elevate MSM blood
levels is not harmful because of the non-toxic nature
Purified MSM can be administered orally in any convenient
manner, such as ingesting crystalline MSM or its aqueous
solution. Preferably, MSM is given in unit dosage form
such as tablets or capsules, each containing 100 to 500
MSM is of exceedingly low toxicity to all forms of plant
and animal life. Except for its beneficial, inhibitory
effect on cross-linking of collagen and proteins whereby
it reduces hardening of skin and connective tissue, MSM
appears to be inert in tissues and body fluids. Because
of its inertness, MSM is nonallergenic, nonpyretic, and
has no interfering or undesirable pharmacological effects.
In fact, MSM is especially suitable as a safe blood diluent
because subjects do not react allergically to MSM as they
do when dextran is used. It can also be employed as a
stable, neutral vehicle for pharmaceutical substances
to deliver the pharmaceutical while simultaneously improving
the condition of the patient's connective tissue.
Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM, a dietary derivative
of DMSO, provides a rich nutritional source of bioavailable
sulfur (approximately 34% by weight). MSM has proven useful
as a dietary supplement in the normalization of body functions
in a variety of conditions resulting from the effects
of physiological stress. Its major discovered uses include
the amelioration of gastrointestinal upset, moderation
of allergic responses, control of gut and urogenital infections,
and alleviation of chronic pain. As a naturally occurring
dietary constituent, MSM has important nutritional and
medical implications for the maintenance of optimum health.
Note: MSM is a patented substance,
protected by a number of U.S. Patents. The above material
has been excerpted largely from these patents. These are
referenced below, along with other relevant documentation.
Baker, DH: Utilization of Isomers and
analogs of amino acids and other sulfur-containing
compounds. Progress Food Nutr Sci 1986;10:133-178.
Herschler, RJ: Methylsulfonylmethane
and methods of use. United States Patent 4,296,130;
October 20, 1981.
Herschler, RJ: Dietary and pharmaceutical
uses of methylsulfonylmethane and compositions
comprising it. United States Patent 4,514,421; April
Herschler, RJ: Methylsulfonylmethane
in dietary products. United States Patent 4,616,039;
October 7, 1986.
Jacob, SW and Herschler RJ: Introductory
remarks: Dimethylsulfoxide after twenty years.
Ann NY Acad Sci 1983; 411: xiii-xvii.
Pearson TW, Dawson HJ, and Lackey HE:
Natural occurring levels of dimethylsulfoxide in selected
fruits, vegetables, grains, and beverages. Am Chemical