Pain, Inflammation, Joint disorders | February 21, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
MSM is an organic sulphur-containing compound that has many structural and functional roles in the body. It can be used to reduce joint inflammation, restore healthy bodily tissue and improve immune function. MSM is a component of glutathione and N-acetylcysteine which act as potent antioxidants within the body.
Sulphur is found in animal parts, eggs, vegetables such as broccoli, sea vegetables and some fruits. In today’s diet—sulphur intake can be minimal because people lack these foods in their diet. Sulphur can easily be destroyed if the food isn’t fresh, is processed or cooked at high temperatures. We all have sulphur present in our bodies at all times, but our sulphur levels can drop as we get older, when we’re stressed and if we normally eat a low-nutrient diet.
The reason so many benefits are attributed to the MSM supplement is because MSM provides biologically active sulphur, which is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the body. Sulphur is a crucial component of many amino acids (methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, taurine), enzymes, hormones, antioxidants and other endogenous compounds.
One of sulphur’s more significant biological roles is the development and maintenance of connective tissue. Connective tissue supports and binds other tissues of the body—including cartilage, tendons, ligaments and joints. This is why MSM is so effective for osteoarthritis, joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis.
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Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which causes wear of cartilage and joint pain and inflammation. A well-researched benefit of MSM is that it provides pain relief and improves joint mobility.
A clinical trial testing the effects of MSM on joint pain in 49 patients with osteoarthritis found that compared to a placebo, MSM supplements taken over 12 weeks resulted in improvements in pain, swelling and joint mobility. MSM supplements were given in 1.125 g doses three times daily. However, another similar trial found MSM effective at an even lower dose—500mg three times daily.
MSM is commonly integrated with other anti-arthritic agents including glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and boswellic acid.
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In addition to joint inflammation, MSM has the ability to reduce inflammation in a number of other conditions. In animal studies MSM reduced inflammatory mediators in vivo for induced colitis, lung injury and liver injury. Hasegawa and colleagues reported that MSM was useful in protecting against UV-induced inflammation when applied topically and promoted healing. In humans, MSM is effective at reducing other inflammatory pathologies including interstitial cystitis and allergic rhinitis.
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Prolonged strenuous exercise can result in muscle soreness caused by microtrauma to muscles and surrounding connective tissue leading to a local inflammatory response.
MSM is alluded to be an effective agent against muscle soreness because of its anti-inflammatory effects as well as its possible sulphur contribution to connective tissue.
In clinical trials endurance exercise-induced muscle damage and joint pain was reduced with MSM supplementation, as measured by creatine kinase (a marker of inflammation). Pre-treatment with MSM reduced muscle pain following strenuous resistance exercises and endurance exercise.
An emerging area of MSM research deals with the anti-cancer effect of the organosulfur compound. In vitro studies using MSM alone or in combination have evaluated the effects of a number of cancer cell lines including breast, oesophagus, stomach, liver, colon, bladder, and skin cancers with promising results. MSM independently has been shown to be cytotoxic to cancer cells by inhibiting cell viability through the induction of cell cycle arrest or death. The inhibition of cell growth and proliferation may be attributed to the metabolic alterations induced by MSM.
MSM is not just found as a supplement it can also be found in topical creams. When applied to the skin it can assist in collagen production which is necessary to reduce signs of ageing such as wrinkles, sagging and dryness.
In addition to this, MSM may reduce skin discolouration, sun spots and scar formation—to assist in keeping a youthful appearance.
Research from a 2008 study found that a topical cream containing silymarin from Milk thistle and MSM was effective in managing the symptoms of rosacea skin. Rosacea is a chronic skin condition associated with acne, redness, facial flushing and rash. After one month there was a significant improvement in skin redness, pimples, itching, hydration and overall skin colour.
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MSM is usually very well tolerated as it is completely natural and already found in the human body. The use of MSM in pregnancy and lactation has not been scientifically evaluated and should be avoided or used with extreme caution. There are no known drug interactions with MSM, but it should be used with caution in those with a sulphur allergy and taking blood thinning medications. Mild gastrointestinal upsets may occur and include flatulence, diarrhoea or indigestion. To avoid these possible side-effects, it’s best to start off with a lower dose and take within the recommended dosages.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017 Jul 21;14:24. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0181-z. eCollection 2017.
Withee ED, et al. Effects of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) on exercise-induced oxidative stress, muscle damage, and pain following a half-marathon: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.
Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand). 2011 Feb 12;57(1):62-9.