Skip to main content

What is Methylsulfonylmethane or MSM?

Biologically active organic sulfur

Methylsulfonylmethane (also referred to as MSM) is a natural form of organic sulfur whose chemical formula is CH3SO2CH3. In this form, sulphur is present in nature in all living organisms, where it acts as a biologically active substance. MSM is an odourless, white crystalline powder, highly soluble in warm water and in a wide range of organic solvents.(1)

Biologically active organic sulfur has incredible therapeutic and preventative properties. It presents complete medicinal properties that are based on obvious principles, making its discovery one of the most important achieved in orthomolecular medicine in the second half of the twentieth century.

Discovery of Methylsulfonylmethane

About forty-five years ago, two chemists working for the Crown Zellerbach Corporation pulp and paper mill, Dr. Robert Herscher and Dr.Stanley Jacob, were asked to find a use for lignin, one of the mill’s major waste products. They discovered that oxidation of lignin in a reactor produces Dimethyl Sulfoxide (hereafter DMSO), a natural form of organic sulfur. This water-soluble compound has a strong bitter taste and is very quickly absorbed by the skin.

Workers who have come into contact with water containing DMSO have noticed that when they sweat they give off the same odour as DMSO, and they have also felt a bitter taste in their mouths. This water also seemed to have special therapeutic effects. Many stories were told about its miraculous healing and beneficial effects, which at that time could not be proven. It is certain that skin lesions, scratches and wounds on the skin healed faster when they came into contact with water containing DMSO. Other workers noticed that their problems associated with arthritis and asthma were alleviated after coming into contact with this liquid (information supplied by Georg Bergstrom).

After this discovery, various articles were published in the USA on the therapeutic properties of DMSO, but this discovery did not spread precisely because of its characteristic bitter taste and unpleasant smell. DMSO posed another problem. Its topical application could cause skin irritation. It was for these reasons that researchers began to look at a derivative of DMSO that might be better tolerated. They found that the oxidation of DMSO produced MSM, a much more stable organic sulfur compound whose therapeutic effects are equivalent to DMSO, but which has the advantage of a pleasant olfactory sensation and does not cause irritation.(4,8,9)

Natural sources of Methylsulfonylmethane

MSM is a compound found in nature as part of the natural sulfur cycle. Algae and various forms of plankton in the ocean absorb large amounts of sulfur from the water and transform it into an elemental form with organic binders. As algae and plankton die, their organic molecules are broken down through enzymatic processes that generate DMS (dahlia dimethyl sulphate), a volatile and partially water-soluble compound. This is accumulated in the stratosphere, where it is oxidised by ultraviolet radiation and is transformed first into DMSO, then into MSM, which is highly soluble in water and readily concentrated in atmospheric water vapour. Through rain they return to the ground where they become an important source of sulphur for plant roots, which rapidly absorb them and accumulate them to high concentrations. It is scientifically confirmed that the concentration of radiolabelled DMSO and MSM rises more than a hundredfold in the root system of plants. Scientific research in the laboratory has proven that the concentration of DMSO and MSM (radiolabelled), can be multiplied directly from the root system of plants by a hundred in a few hours.(4)

This proves that rainwater contains large amounts of MSM. Large amounts of MSM are found in fruits and fresh vegetables, at concentrations of 1-4 mg/kg,(3) or in fresh unpasteurized milk, which is the product of grazing cattle 2-5 mg/kg. However, MSM is rapidly lost by cooking, during the cooking of food or when raw fruit and vegetables are not consumed fresh due to their volatile nature. Pasteurised milk contains less than 0,25 mg/kg of MSM, about the same amount is contained in the milk of artificially nourished cows.(3) Dietary habits have meant that modern man is inevitably chronically deficient in MSM.

Methylsulfonylmethane and human health

In the bloodstream of an adult, the natural level of MSM is up to 0.2 mg/kg. An adult excretes between 4 and 11 mg of MSM daily through urine. Various studies suggest that the systemic concentration of MSM in mammals decreases with age, due to metabolic changes and changes in dietary habits. Scientists have shown that there is a minimum blood concentration of MSM needed to maintain basic life functions and to protect tissues.(8,9) Low levels of MSM in our bodies have been linked to states of unspecified fatigue, depression, increased sensitivity to physical and psychological stress, and many degenerative diseases.(5,6)

MSM is not only an important source of sulfur, but also presents unique properties resulting from its special chemical composition and its biological action. To better understand the therapeutic and preventive properties of MSM, it is important to distinguish between “why the human body needs sulfur” and “why the human body needs MSM.”

Why does the human body need sulphur?

After calcium and phosphorus, sulphur is the third mineral present in the human body, in order of quantity. On average, the adult body contains 140 grams of sulphur,(6) which is used almost equally by the skin, muscle tissue and bones.(5)

Protein structure

When plants absorb MSM from rainwater, they transform it into sulphurated amino acids, methionine and cysteine. Taurine and cystine, two other sulphur-containing proteins, are synthesised from cysteine. Our body makes about 80% of the amino acids it needs, we call them non-essential amino acids. The remaining 20% of amino acids, called essential amino acids, must our body take in through the diet. This is also how methionine and cysteine get into the body. We know about 28 types of amino acids, and each type of protein is composed of a unique series of amino acids arranged in a specific combination. Two cysteine molecules can oxidize and join together through a sulfur bond (-S-S-).(5) These bonds are key elements in the structure of proteins that determine their form, properties, and biological activity.

Connective tissue

Nails and hair are composed mainly of a very durable protein with a high sulphur content – keratin. Flexible tissues, whether connective tissue or cartilage, contain proteins with a flexible sulphur bond. Collagen is a protein that is found in most of our body and is also a major component of connective tissues. This gives elasticity to the skin along with another protein, elastin. In cartilage, glucosamine, chondroitin and sulphur-containing proteoglycans together with collagen form a fibrous protein substance that forms the same structure as the original collagen and makes it flexible.(5, 6) The importance of connective tissue in human body lies in its function of connecting individual cells. The first model of biophysical regulation was described by prof. Pischinger, who called it the “Basic Regulation System”. This theory was then further developed by prof. Heine, who described proteoglycans and glycosamines, and Dr. Popp, a biophysicist, who demonstrated the importance of electromagnetic fields in the transmission of genetic information. Their research proved that soft connective tissue, the intercellular substance, has other functions besides structural and connective. It is important for the transfer of nutrients and electrolytes, atomic and subatomic particles. Thus, soft connective tissue forms an essential communication network in our body whose role is to transmit valuable genetic information (13,16).

Various people have observed that connective tissues lose elasticity over the years. This is probably due to sulfur deficiency, which causes muscle and ligament stiffening and skin aging, and decreases the elasticity of lung parenchyma and arteries. No doubt the transmission of genetic information through the delicate connective tissue is terminated. Therefore, diseases of old age are probably caused by reduced communication between cells and tissues.

Cell membrane permeability

All cells (and all their internal organs) are surrounded by membranes. The membrane is composed of two layers of molecules, on the one hand of essential fatty acids and on the other hand of sulphur-containing amino acids. The amino acids are linked in such a way that they form a surface that stores and protects the proteins and other components of the membrane. These proteins are essential for the transport of various nutrients and wastes across the cell membrane. The bridges contained in sulfur form flexible connections between cells and the surrounding connective tissues and maintain the elasticity of the cells. In the event of a sulphur deficiency, the cell wall stiffens and loses its elasticity. Thus, the transport proteins of the cell membrane are blocked and become less permeable. The ability to transport oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and to excrete cellular wastes is reduced and there is a consequent lack of oxygen and nutrients and a build-up of toxic-metabolic wastes inside the cells. The result is a decrease in vitality and subsequent development of degenerative diseases.

Recent thorough analyses of free radical pathology have revealed that – SH groups of sulfur amino acids can protect protein chains of cell membranes from oxidation. Studies by Dr. Johanna Budwig have shown that sulfur amino acids in cell membranes resonate through fatty acid double bonds, with subsequent electron release. This creates clusters of electrons that can move along the fatty acid chains. On the basis of all the electrical energy of our body, flows of electrons or electric current are generated in the body. This energy is measurable through heartbeats, nerve stimuli, muscle contractions, simply, through any chemical and physical reaction contributing to life.


Enzymes are proteins that control basic life functions, such as regulating all of our body’s metabolic processes. Sulfur bridges are responsible for the spatial structure of enzymes. Without them, enzymes would be spatially distorted and thus would be without biological activity. Sulphur deficiency is the cause of reduced production of biologically active enzymes, with consequent disturbances in metabolic processes. Sulphur is important for the production of cellular energy obtained through the utilization of glucose. This element contributes to electron transport and, more importantly, forms part of the iron/sulfur proteins in the mitochondria, the energy factories of cells.

Sulfur is involved in the synthesis of the B vitamins thiamine and biotin. These vitamins are important in the process of converting carbohydrates into energy through the burning of glucose. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas whose main role is to regulate blood sugar levels. It thus performs an essential function in carbohydrate metabolism. Each molecule of insulin consists of two amino acid chains that are linked together by sulfur molecules, these are very important for the proper functioning of this hormone. Without them, insulin loses its own biological activity.

Why does the human body need Methylsulfonylmethane?

Primary food source of sulphur

The most widely accepted theory suggests that the sulphur amino acids methionine and cysteine are the main sources of sulphur for humans. This theory has been debated many times since the discovery of the sulfur cycle in nature. Many millions of years ago, algae in the oceans began to produce organic elemental sulfur compounds, which led to the formation of MSM. This form of biologically active sulphur probably became the primary source of sulphur for all subsequently evolving life forms. This supports the theory that more evolved life forms are genetically programmed to use MSM as a source of sulphur. The theory was later supported by the discovery that MSM can be absorbed by all organisms known to date in virtually unlimited quantities and without toxic effect. The same cannot be said for the sulphur amino acids methionine and cysteine, which can be consumed in small amounts but can have a toxic effect when ingested at elevated doses.(3)

Experiments with radioactively labelled sulphur-containing MSM (35S) have shown that when ingested it releases sulphur, which it contains not only to make collagen and keratin, the elements needed for nail and hair formation, but also the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, and serumprotein. Clearly, the importance of MSM has long been underestimated. The reason for this is very easily explained by the transformative alimentary process in Eastern peoples, which has caused the loss of much of their natural supply of MSM. It is here that the definition of MSM as the “Forgotten Nutrient” arose (6).

Mucosal protection

Further experiments with MSM with radiolabelled atoms have shown that MSM binds to mucous membranes by ingestion. Thus, MSM appears to be governed by a receptor network on mucosal membrane surfaces in the intestinal tract, urogenital system and respiratory system, creating a protective interface between the host and the external environment.(4) Such natural interactions present many useful implications for our health: allergens and parasites cannot reach the mucous membranes, toxins are oxidized and free radicals are eliminated.

The health benefits of Methylsulfonylmethane

Sulphur deficiency can cause a lack of functionality of individual cells, tissues and organs in our body. Inorganic sulfur is very difficult to absorb. Organic, biologically active sulphur is therefore of utmost importance for the health of every living organism. MSM is a natural source of organic sulphur, the intake of which has beneficial effects on the conditions detailed in the next section.

Chronic pain

The most important discovery regarding MSM is its high effectiveness against various types of chronic pain. In March 1999 a very important book on this subject was published: “The Miracle of MSM: the Natural Solution for Pain”. (The Miracle of MSM-The Natural Solution for Pain), a study based on the experiment of two doctors who worked with MSM. The authors are. Prof. Ronald M. Lawrence, founder of the International Association for the Study of Pain and an American Association for the Study of Headaches (American Association for the Study of Cephalea). In this book, both doctors describe their long-term experience using MSM. Together they give a positive review of over twenty years of experience using MSM in pain therapy. They conclude by agreeing that of 18,000 patients suffering from chronic pain, 70% have experienced improvement, relief or even complete remission of pain with the use of MSM.

Typology of pain successfully treated with MSM methylsulfamethylmethyl include:

  • injuries due to accidents, burns, etc.
  • Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
  • myalgia and fibromyalgia
  • lumbalgia
  • cephalea, migraine
  • bursitis
  • tennis elbow and other consequences of sports activity
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • sclerosis
  • cervical traumatism
  • cervicocranial and brachial syndrome
  • repetitive strain injury or RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury)
  • scarring as a result of burns, accidents, surgery, etc.

The pain-relieving effect of MSM is explained by the following mechanisms:

  • MSM is a natural analgesic, blocking the transmission of pain impulses through nerve fibres (C fibres).
  • MSM blocks inflammation and inflammatory processes, enhancing the activity of the hormone cortisol, the body’s natural anti-inflammatory product.
  • MSM improves the permeability of cell membranes, which influences the improved transfer of nutrients and vitamins, and increases the efficiency of detoxification and elimination processes of cellular waste and excess substances.
  • MSM dilates blood vessels and improves blood circulation. This also contributes to the elimination of waste from our body, which improves healing processes.
  • MSM is an effective, very important but often underestimated myorelaxant, as various forms of chronic pain are aggravated precisely because of constant muscle tension.
  • MSM is part of the body’s natural defence mechanisms, helping to regulate prostaglandin metabolism and the formation of antibodies and immunocomplexes.
  • MSM mitigates and restores the formation of cross-links in collagen, the natural process of scar healing, to prevent the formation of hard tissues that are a common source of pain. Such pain can be chronic, especially in the case of burn scars that occupy a larger area of the body.
  • MSM improves the healing of scars by increasing their elasticity and softening the skin. There have been sensational cases of people who, thanks to the use of ointments containing MSM, soon saw their burn scars disappear, and at the same time the pain caused by them also disappeared.

The synergistic effect

MSM is considered to be a synergistic element for most vitamins and for other nutrients – vitamin C, coenzyme Q10, all B complex vitamins, vitamin A, D and E, amino acids, selenium, calcium, magnesium and many others. MSM improves the transfer of these nutrients into the cells, i.e. prolongs their life.(5,6,8) Our body can thus make better use of these elements and ensure greater effectiveness of nutritional supplements, so that the quantitative need for them is reduced.


MSM is a powerful antioxidant and significantly reduces the level of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules and atoms characterized by the presence of an odd electron that attract electrons from their surroundings.

Free radicals are not all harmful, life would not be possible without them as they are necessary for cellular energy production. The liver produces free radicals during the breakdown of harmful substances, our immune system uses them to kill viruses and bacteria. The human body hosts antioxidant substances that block and destroy free radicals, although in a healthy individual the normal production of free radicals is harmless, if increased they can be extremely harmful. Free radicals are capable of starting a chain reaction that can severely damage cell membranes and chromosomes.

Mental and physical stress, poor diet, air pollution, heavy metals, polluted organic particles in drinking water and food, radiation and cigarette smoke are all causes that can trigger the overproduction of free radicals. In all these cases, the human body needs an increased supply of antioxidants contained in food. And one of them is MSM. As a major source of sulphur, MSM is essential for the proper functioning of our body’s natural antioxidant mechanisms in our body. In neutralizing free radicals, the body uses various antioxidant enzymes that contain sulfur amino acids and whose structure and biological activity is derived from sulfur (S-S) bonds.

Thus, MSM supplies the sulphur necessary for the sulphur amino acids, methionine, cysteine and taurine, which are considered to be powerful antioxidants. In their breakdown, the thiol groups (-SH) of these amino acids are able to neutralize free radicals.(17) Sulfur is in turn necessary for the formation of what is considered the most powerful antioxidant – glutathione. (5) As noted above, MSM extends the effect of known antioxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, selenium, etc.(5,7) And MSM itself appears to have an antioxidant function.(7) The mucosa contains an enzyme that breaks down C-S bonds, called C-S lysine. Several studies claim that MSM, after it is bound to the mucosa, forms a compound with a missing electron, CH3SO4, which is able to neutralize free radicals as it gradually decomposes.(4)

MSM drastically increases the capacity of the cells to excrete toxic wastes

MSM alleviates the symptoms of a large tribute of allergies


MSM is known to dissolve into many organic and inorganic compounds.(1) Bound to the mucosa and cleaved into the ionic group CH3SO4, MSM reacts with toxins to deactivate them and accelerate their expulsion.(4) In addition, it increases the permeability of cell membranes, thereby aiding in the influx of nutrients and the elimination of residues. Practically, MSM drastically increases the capacity of the cells to excrete toxic wastes. Many physicians can definitely claim that among all nutritional and pharmaceutical substances, MSM is the most capable detoxifier they have ever used.

The following case demonstrates the truly incredible detoxifying action of this substance. A young painter, complaining of various psychological disorders, went to a psychiatric institute to seek help. Antidepressants had so aggravated his condition that he decided to turn to alternative therapies. A microscopic examination of his blood by means of the HLB-test safely proved that the patient was poisoned by heavy metals and thinners, a condition induced by the paints he used in his work as a painter. This gentleman turned to various traditional and alternative medicine professionals. He was prescribed traditional medicines, homeopathic and orthomolecular detoxifiers and even bioresonance. After a year and a half of detoxification treatment, the blood test results were slightly better, but the patient was showing severe symptoms of intoxication.

After another year and a half, the blood test results improved somewhat, but the patient presented the same symptoms. On the author’s recommendation, all ongoing therapies were discontinued and increased doses of MSM (15grams daily). As a supportive therapy, he underwent Ayurvedic baths once a week to stimulate the dissolution of toxic substances. After two months, microscopic analysis showed that the patient’s blood had returned to normal values, and the patient himself commented that for the first time since the start of treatment he felt a marked improvement in his condition.

Neurological diseases

The brain is extremely sensitive to the effects of toxic substances from heavy metals and organic compounds. Many of these accumulate in nerve cells, where they can cause oxidative damage with subsequent neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. MSM is one of the few antioxidants that crosses the blood-brain barrier. It acts preventively in oxidative disorders because it increases the elasticity and permeability of the cell membrane and this allows the cells to deal with cellular wastes. The high effectiveness of MSM is illustrated in the following case.

An elderly lady suffered from symptoms of poisoning caused by aluminium accumulated in her brain, which was the cause of serious neurological disorders. The woman was bedridden for six years, unable to communicate, and did not speak at all during this time. The doctors were unable to help her, they did not treat her, the patient was completely dependent on the care of her husband, who was completely devoted to her.

One doctor, who practiced natural medicine, prescribed her two teaspoons of MSM (about 15 grams) a day. MSM, after crossing the blood-brain barrier, restored the permeability of the cell walls in the brain with the subsequent elimination of the toxins generated by the heavy metal. Her orthomolecular physician then recommended a bath in warm water in which the individual particles were loosened to eliminate the toxins through the skin. After twenty minutes of the bath, the woman spontaneously smiled and said: “I’m so much better now”, these were the first words she uttered after many years. After a few months, the woman was able to resume a normal life.(7)


MSM alleviates the symptoms of a large tribute of allergies – food, touch, inhalation, etc. The main anti-allergic property of MSM is probably its ability to bind to mucous membranes and form a natural protective layer between the host and allergens. In addition, MSM buffers allergies by detoxifying the body by eliminating free radicals and improving cell wall permeability. A direct correlation between the concentration of ingested MSM and allergen resistance has been demonstrated. Various authors have pointed out that MSM, as a histamine inhibitor, works at least as well as traditional antihistamines, but without the negative side effects (5,6,7).


MSM is very effective in counteracting inflammation caused by autoimmune reactions – in cases where the body’s immune system turns against itself.

For example, arthritis sufferers find great relief after taking MSM. Various studies have shown that taking MSM reduces degenerative changes and joint inflammation. In one of these studies, 24 people with symptomatic arthritis were treated with traditional medicine (NSAIDs), or 3 g of MSM daily. After a month, both groups experienced the same improvements in both pain and joint stiffness.(6) In another experiment, a group of mice were studied and given joint disorders identical to rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers found that those mice that were given water containing a 3% solution of MSM for three months showed no degenerative change in the articular cartilage. Focal degeneration of articular cartilage increased in 50% of the control group of mice that were given tap water. Almost all of the control specimens (95%) presented inflammatory reactions in the connective tissue, while in the MSM group only 50% of the animals showed signs of less severe inflammatory conditions.(8,10) The therapeutic effect of MSM was evident, due to its ability to improve cellular permeability, allowing the expulsion of pollutants (lactic acid, toxins) and at the same time increase the transfer of nutritive components, preventing the increase of intracellular pressure, the cause of cellular inflammation.(5)

Other mice, with a tendency to develop autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome (ALD), were fed a dietary regimen in which they were given a 3% solution of MSM instead of water after their first month of life. The average age of this control group was 5 and a half months, while the group that was still given MSM reached the age of 10 months. The MSM group presented a reduction in antinuclear antibody responses and a significant decrease in the development of lynfadenopathy, splenomegaly, and anemia, leading to the conclusion that MSM represents an important protection against the development of autoimmunopathies in ALD (12).

Further experiments were performed in mice with a tendency to develop autoimmunopathies of the systemic Lupus erythematosus (LES) type. These experiments proved that MSM confers effective protection both before and after the onset of symptoms. After the first month of life, mice given a solution of 3% MSM in drinking water showed lower mortality and liver disorders relative to mice given normal water. After seven months, 30% of the control group was dead, while all mice receiving MSM were still alive. Those mice that presented signs of advanced Lupus at the seventh month of life were started on a diet containing MSM, of which 62% survived to the ninth month of life, compared with 14% of those given normal water. (8).


Various experiments have shown that oral administration of MSM is able to protect rats from developing tumours. In one such study, rats with mammary gland tumours were monitored and given a diet containing MSM for eight days. The control group, however, was not given MSM. After this preelimination period, all rats were given oral doses of carcinogenic substances. There was no difference in the amount of tumors in the two groups. However, in the rats treated with MSM, the first tumours appeared about 100 days later than in the control group of rats; moreover, the tumoursmbecame carcinogenic after 130 days, relative to the control group. Considering that the average lifespan of a rat is two years, 100 days of their life is equivalent to 10 years of a human’s life (8).

In another experiment, rats were given MSM in drinking water, in the form of a 1% solution, for the duration of the experiment. The control group drank normal water. After a week, the diet was started and all the rats were injected with dimethylhydrazine, a substance that induces colon tumors. Over the nine months of the experiment, the development of bowel tumours was statistically the same in both groups, but the tumours in the MSM group of rats developed much more slowly than in the control group. The researchers concluded that MSM significantly prolongs the time of tumor development (8).


One of the most surprising discoveries regarding MSM is its antiparasitic effect against intestinal parasites. Animal research has demonstrated these effects in laboratory mice in which nematodes (Entorobius) were found in the stool . These mice were nourished with food and water, 2% of which was MSM. After 17 days, faecal tests showed that the excreta contained neither worms nor eggs. One of the animals tested then had an elevated blood concentration of MSM that exceeded 30 ppm (30 parts per million) or mg/kg.(3)

Research involving human beings refers to one human who drank contaminated water in an underdeveloped area containing Lamblium. He was given 500 mg of MSM three times a day for 14 days. After eight days, the patient showed no signs of parasites, and stool samples taken a week later were completely free of organisms.(3) In another study, Trichomonas vaginalis was successfully treated by oral administration of 1 gr. MSM daily and topical application of MSM 5% gel for one week.(3)

The important antiparasitic property of MSM is probably due to its ability to bind to mucous membranes and form a natural protective surface between the host and the parasites. This is because MSM coats the mucosa with an impenetrable coating on which parasites cannot latch on and are simply expelled from the body.(5,9) In vitro experiments have demonstrated the antiparasitic, antifungal and antibacterial effect of higher concentrations of MSM. Thus, MSM does not have an inhibitory effect against intestinal parasites when doses lower than 1 mg/ml are administered, but it has a strong inhibitory effect in concentrations as low as 20 mg/ml, and it directly and rapidly kills infectious organisms when administered at a concentration of 40 mg/ml.

According to Dr. Herscher, 1-2 grams of MSM per kilogram of human weight can be administered daily without any problem. In this way, its blood concentration of 4000 ppm (mg/kg), highly toxic to infectious organisms but harmless to the fasting person, can be achieved.(3) A large number of natural medicine practitioners attest that parasites have been of considerable concern to them. It is becoming increasingly evident that these represent a natural source of continuous intoxication that can spread throughout the body while damaging the immune system. What is fascinating is that MSM may be the original natural remedy that allows us to protect ourselves from parasites.


Biotin, a sulfuric B vitamin, is an essential element of glucokinose, an enzyme involved in the process of glucose utilization. Sulfur is one of the components of insulin, a pancreatic secretory hormone and an essential factor for carbohydrate metabolism. Dietary sulphur deficiency can manifest itself in reduced production of biologically active insulin. Research has confirmed that MSM enhances glucose transport into cells by improving the permeability of their membranes. This allows blood sugar levels to be balanced and normal pancreatic function to be restored (5).

Muscle cramps and pain

MSM, especially in combination with vitamin C, has been shown to reduce the incidence of muscle pain, leg and spinal cramps, or even eliminate them altogether. MSM is particularly effective in elderly patients who experience cramps during the night or during long periods of inactivity. Various persons affected by muscle or joint soreness have registered considerable improvement when taking MSM for a period of time.

There are also known cases of people affected by carpal tunnel syndrome who have been cured by MSM. One elderly lady, who was already scheduled for surgery on both wrists, started taking MSM on the advice of the author. After a month of taking it, the symptoms disappeared completely and surgery was no longer necessary.

Athletes heavily burdened with peak activity learned a great deal from horse trainers and were able to make millions of dollars. For several years, horse trainers successfully administered MSM to their charges before races to prevent muscle soreness, and after races to reduce the risk of cramps and improve physical condition.(4) Symptoms of physical fatigue, which result from intense competitive athletic activity lasting from 8 to 10 days in athletes, were overcome in 2-3 days by administering 1-2 grams of MSM daily for six months prior to a race.(3)

Hyperacidity and constipation

One study revealed that at least 75% of individuals who took one or more antacids or H2 blockers experienced significant dose reductions or elimination of all of those medications, one week after starting to take MSM as a dietary supplement.

In another study, twenty-one subjects suffering from constipation were given 500mg of MSM daily along with 1 gram of ascorbic acid. All subjects with abnormal bowel function returned to normal, their condition improved as they continued to take MSM.(5)

These studies suggest that MSM often provides greater relief in cases of gastric hyperacidity and constipation than normally prescribed products. Many people have confirmed that one of the most obvious therapeutic effects of MSM associated with its use is just the rapid and long-lasting relief of gastric hyperacidity in constipation problems.(7)

Pulmonary dysfunction

MSM allows better oxygenation of the body. In the first place, it improves the elasticity of the cells in the lungs, thus allowing the body to inhale more air and increase the amount of oxygen that enters the blood through the membranes. In the second place, MSM prevents and modifies the coagulation of red blood cells by allowing the blood to absorb more oxygen. Improving the permeability of cell membranes allows cells throughout the body, within their confines, to absorb more oxygen from the blood and thus produce more energy.

People with pulmonary dysfunction can experience tremendous improvement in their condition by taking MSM. In one study, MSM was administered to seven people with pulmonary insufficiency in unit amounts ranging from 250-1500 mg per day. Five of them were affected by emphysema (emphysema of the lungs), two had a lung tumor with subsequent pulmonary edema. Both people with lung tumours had undergone chemotherapy without success before including MSM in their diet. Before and during the duration of the experiment, five subjects with emphysema were asked to walk a distance adequate to their capacities. Within four weeks of starting MSM, all patients with this diagnosis had at least doubled the distance they had walked “effortlessly.” According to the assisting nurses and doctors, the two patients with the tumor were also more mobile and their mental state improved. The most surprising thing was the complete disappearance of pulmonary edema within five months of the experiment.(3)


Many people who take MSM claim they feel better, are more resilient and stronger. One study showed that for its entire duration, 7 to 12 months, an experiment on 14 people taking MSM, not one of the subjects got sick.(3)

Another experiment involved two groups of 25 red fish that were divided into two small groups of 25 each in one large aquarium. One group was fed a traditional redfish diet, the other group had MSM added to their diet, which made up 2% of the weight of the food. The fish and the aquaria were subjected to the same stress from lack of exercise, temperature changes, and little oxygenation. After five days, one fish died in the MSM group, while 11 fish (almost 50%) died in the control group (3).

In intensive farming of farm animals, it has recently become common practice to add antibiotics to their food to accelerate growth and prevent stress-induced diseases. Animal products such as meat, milk or eggs contain antibiotic residues which we inevitably consume. The indiscriminate use of these antibiotics is one of the main causes of the emergence of strains of resistant bacteria. Well-known examples are the “hospital bacteria” MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant enterococci). Today, with the increasing resistance of bacteria, these represent one of the main threats to humans. It is therefore fascinating to see how MSM added to the animals’ diet can reduce their exposure to stress and improve their health, as it guarantees a reduction in the amount of antibiotics administered.


Sulphur is also called the “beauty mineral” of nature, it keeps the skin smooth and youthful, and the hair shiny. Sulphur is an essential element in the formation of collagen and keratin, proteins necessary for the health and protection of skin, nails and hair. (6) Various experiments have shown that all dermatological afflictions, often associated with allergies, respond positively to a dietary regimen enriched with MSM.

Oral administration of MSM has been shown to be an effective remedy for acne, rosacea, dry skin and irritated skin.(3) Topically applied as a gel or solution, MSM is useful in the treatment of skin disorders such as: acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, scabies and various mycotic infections.(1,6) Even scars caused by surgery and burns have positive results after topical application, newer scars can be practically healed by becoming almost invisible and also older scars can be improved considerably.

Who is Methylsulfonylmethane suitable for?

MSM is suitable for all those who know and appreciate the value of their own health and intend to look after it as much as possible. Passionate sportsmen and athletes can take it to improve their own performance and to speed up recovery. People affected by degenerative diseases can take it for sensitive improvement of their health condition. MSM is not a panacea that will solve every single health problem. On the contrary, it is a nutritional supplement that in ancient times people naturally ingested in sufficient quantities. This cannot be said of today. MSM can help the body heal better and maintain its own vitality.

But MSM cannot do everything on its own. The basis of our health is also healthy living conditions, which include:

  • healthy food supplemented with at least MSM, vitamin C, oligoelements, all nutrients that practically no one takes in sufficient quantities
  • love
  • enough sleep
  • plenty of sunlight and fresh air
  • constant meditation or prayer
  • attainable goals, adequate to one’s own nature

Dosage and recommended use

The optimal dosage depends on the nature and intensity of the health problem. In most cases, two tablets of 500 mg, twice a day, are sufficient at the beginning of treatment (for children under ten years of age, the recommended dose is one tablet twice a day, for older children two tablets twice a day). After a few months, the dose may be reduced to one tablet twice a day. For people with serious problems, the daily dose should be increased to achieve the necessary therapeutic effect, up to four tablets three times a day. This dosage is recommended for parasitic infections. In some of the cases studied, patients did not see a significant improvement in their condition until they were given a 30 gram daily dose.(6) Although no adverse effects were seen, such a dose did not appear to be effective in most individuals is not normally recommended.(3,6)

Increasing the daily dose is advisable in a gradual manner, starting with two tablets twice daily and not increasing the dose if intoxicating symptoms would appear. Although not usual, these symptoms include nausea and cephalea (see below). MSM should be taken with a glass of water, half an hour before meals. Because it stimulates energy levels, we do not normally recommend taking it in the hours before sleep.

Is Methylsulfonylmethane safe?

The degree of toxicity of MSM is among the lowest, it is the same as for water. When MSM was administered to volunteers, it showed no toxic effect at a dose of 1 gram/kg body weight, for 30 days. Also, intravenous injections of 0.5 gr/kg bw per day, five days per week, produced no toxic effects in humans. The lethal dose (DL50) of MSM in mice is 20 g/kg of their body weight.

A wide range of experiments have been conducted with MSM as an ingredient in food, and no allergic reaction has been registered. One unpublished research by Oregon Health Sciences University, which ran for six months and concerned the long-term toxicity of MSM, recorded no toxic effect. In this research, 12,000 patients took 2 gr. MSM per day, with no evidence of side effects.(8) The effectiveness of MSM has been shown to be increased and associated with vitamin C.

Detoxification symptoms

Most patients don’t really notice much of a reaction when they start taking MSM, at most mild signs of detoxification. Such symptoms may be a mild form of diarrhea, erythema, cephalea, fatigue, which usually disappear within a week. Some patients, less than 20%, who take MSM may give signs of nausea during the first days of use. It is a great comfort to know that the stronger these symptoms are, the more toxic substances are accumulated in the body, and the more MSM use is needed to cleanse it.

Should the symptoms of detoxification become more severe, it is possible to reduce the dose of MSM and then gradually increase it as these symptoms disappear.

AUTHOR: Paul Klein Breteler is a general practitioner in L ́Aia, the Netherlands. He is in private practice as a physician specializing in homeopathy, in orthomolecular therapy, and in therapies related to the aura and cakra. He has published various articles in the scientific and non-scientific press and is the director of the MSM Medical Information Foundation, based in the Netherlands.


1. Herschler, R.J.: Methylsulfonylmethane and Methods of Use. United States Patent 4,296,130: 1981.
2. Herschler, R.J.: Methylsulfonylmethane in Dietary Products. United States Patent 4,616,039: 1986.
3. Herschler, R.J.: Dietary Products and Uses Comprising Methylsulfonylmethane. Brevetto Statunitense 4.863.748: 1989.
4. Herschler, R.J.: MSM: a Nutrient for the Horse. Eq. Vet. Data, 1986.
5. Mindell, E.L.: The MSM Miracle. Enhance Your Health with Organic Sulfur. Good Health Guides, Keats Publishing, Inc, Connecticut, USA: 1997.
6. Ley, B.M.: The Forgotten Nutrient MSM: on Our Way Back to Health with Sulfur. Health Learning Handbooks, BL Publications, California: 1998.
7. Owen, B.: Ask Dr. Bob?? Why MSM?? Health Hope Publishing House, California, 1997
8. Jacob, S.W: The Current Status of MSM in Medicine. Am. Acad. Med. Prev., 1983.
9. Jacob, S.W. and Herschler, R.J.: Introductory Remarks: Dimethylsulfoxide after Twenty Years. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.: 1983.
10. Moore, R.D. and Morton, J.I.: Diminished Inflamatory Joint Disease in Mice Ingesting Dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) or Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Fed. of Am. Soc. for Exp. Biol., Atti del convegno per il 69° Anniversario. 1985: 692.
11. Richmond, V.L.: Incorporation of Methylsulfonylmethane into Guinea Pig sieroproteine. Life Sciences 1986, vol. 39, pp 263-268.
12. Morton, J.I. and Siegel, B.V.: Effects of Oral Dimethylsufoxide (DMSO) and Dimethylsulfone (MSM) on Murine Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Disease. Proc. Of the Soc. for Exper. Bio. and Med. 1986, vol. 183, pp. 227-230.
13. Munck-Khoe, L.K. de: Vitaminen, Hardware of Software? Deel 1. Ortho 14(5), 1996: 204-211.
14. Munck-Khoe, L.K. de: Vitaminen, Hardware of Software? Deel 2. Ortho 14(6), 1996: 252-261.
15. Vos, R. de: De Magie Van Het Leven Zit in De Chemie. Folia Orthica 1998 (1): 7-10.
16. Lamers, H.J.: Ferdinand Huneke, Ontdekker en Grondlegger van de Neuraaltherapie. Tijdschr. Voor Integr. Geneesk. 1996; 12(1): 18-22.
17. Nieuwenhuis, R.A.: Anti-oxidanten, De Effectieve Beschermers van Onze Gezondheid. Orthos Media, Den Haag, 1993