What are MSM Supplements?
What is MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)? It’s an organic sulfur-containing compound that’s used to improve immune function, lower inflammation and help restore healthy bodily tissue. The reason so many benefits are attributed to the MSM supplement is because MSM provides biologically active sulfur, which is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the body and needed for many different critical bodily functions every single day.
Commonly used topically on the skin and also taken by mouth, MSM is especially popular as part of an arthritis diet and supplementation plan to treat arthritis or osteoarthritis/degenerative joint disease since it helps form connective tissue and repair joints, tendons and ligaments.
Of course, that is just one of many MSM supplement benefits. It also does the following:
1. Treats Osteoarthritis and Joint Pain
A well-researched benefit of MSM is that it helps decrease joint inflammation, improves flexibility and restores collagen production. Research shows that many patients with arthritis, joint pain, stiffness, knee/back problems and a limited range of motion experience a reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life when taking an MSM supplement.
MSM supplements are beneficial for helping the body form new joint and muscle tissue while lowering inflammatory responses that contribute to swelling and stiffness. An MSM supplement is a natural and effective anti-inflammatory because of how sulfur impacts the immune system and facilitates normal cellular activity. Sulfur needs to be present for our cells to release many byproducts and excess fluids that can accumulate and cause swelling/tenderness.
A clinical trial testing the effects of MSM on joint pain in 118 patients with osteoarthritis found that compared to a placebo, MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in more improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility. MSM supplements were given in 500-milligram doses three times daily along with glucosamine (also taken in 500-milligram doses three times daily). Together they both seem to safely reduce inflammation and pain intensity without causing side effects for the majority of people. (3)
That makes MSM — especially when combined with glucosamine — an excellent natural treatment for arthritis.
2. Improves Digestive Problems Like Leaky Gut Syndrome
MSM can help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract and lower inflammation/allergic reactions to certain foods. It’s also useful for healing leaky gut syndrome since it can help stop particles from leaching out the gut through small junction openings, where they can enter the bloodstream and ignite an inflammatory response. This is due in part to the sulfur in an MSM supplement, which is important for digestion. (4)
Additionally, MSM supplements seem to help treat hemorrhoids. Applying a gel containing MSM along with tea tree oil can reduce pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids (swollen blood vessels of the rectum that make it hard to go to the bathroom without pain or bleeding). (5)
3. Repairs Skin and Treats Skin Problems Including Rosacea, Allergies, Wounds
Some research shows that applying topical cream containing MSM and silymarin helps lower inflammation contributing to rosacea, skin discoloration, allergies or slow wound healing. MSM can help improve skin’s tone, reducing redness, easing sensitivity and treating other symptoms associated with rosacea. (6)
While it hasn’t been proven in many studies, people also use MSM to hold on to a youthful appearance, since it seems to help prevent wrinkles, scar formation, dark spots and sun damage. How’s this possible? MSM is necessary for collagen production, and collagen is what helps keep skin from becoming saggy, wrinkled, cracked and dry.
Using an MSM supplement helps us hold on to precious collagen and keratin because sulfur is required for the production of these “youthful” compounds. We lose collagen and healthy tissue as we get older, which is exactly why our skin tone and elasticity suffer. You can get even more results using MSM on your skin when you combine it with other antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, which all help build new, healthy skin cells.
4. Lowers Muscle Pain and Muscle Spasms
Good news if your someone who’s regularly active but suffers from muscle pain: Research suggests that MSM can act like a natural analgesic, helping prevent and treat muscle aches and pains, throbbing and swelling while improving range of motion and mobility. (7) It’s been shown to help muscle recovery after exercise, injuries and even surgeries — and it seems to be especially beneficial when used in conjunction with other anti-inflammatories.
How does MSM stop muscle pain? It comes back to the role of sulfur in the body, which is largely stored inside tissues that make up our muscles and joints. MSM helps repair the rigid fibrous tissue cells in our muscles that become broken down during exercise, therefore helping prevent them from swelling for prolong periods of time.
MSM also restores the flexibility and permeability of cell walls within muscles, which means nutrients can pass through the tissues more easily, facilitating repair work faster and removing lactic acid, which causes that “burning feeling” following exercise. The result is less time needed for recovery, plus reduced pressure, soreness and cramps.
5. Restores Hair Growth
Struggling with thinning hair or balding as you get older? Good news: MSM has been shown to help boost both collagen and keratin levels, two nutrients we absolutely need to form new hair strands (and also rebuild strong nails and skin cells). Collagen and keratin are often found in hair products and treatments because they’re what gives hair strength, durability and that “healthy” look — and they can help reverse hair loss. (8)
6. Helps the Body Adapt to Stress
Ever hear of “adaptogen herbs” or supplements that help control how the body deals with stress? MSM works similarly, since it boosts our ability to heal and bounce back from exercise, stressful events, injuries and even surgeries. Taking MSM before exercising, such as running, seems to reduce muscle damage and other markers of stress. It can also reduce fatigue felt after stressful events and support an upbeat mood, energy levels and normal digestion. (9, 10)