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MSM (methylsulfonylmethane)


Also listed as: Methylsulfonylmethane
Related terms

Related Terms
  • Crystalline DMSO, dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, methyl sulfone, methyl sulfonyl methane, methyl-sulfonyl-methane, methylsulfonylmethane, OptiMSM®, sulfonyl sulfur.

  • Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a form of organic sulfur that occurs naturally in a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and animals. MSM is a normal oxidation product of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). It arises from a series of reactions that begin on the surface waters of the ocean. MSM is a white, odorless, crystalline substance that is water-soluble and contains 34% element sulfur.
  • No evidence suggests that MSM is a necessary part of a normal diet. Sulfur is considered an essential mineral, but no dietary requirement has been established for it. MSM as a vital source of dietary sulfur is unsupported by published research. The nutrient is generally well tolerated, but long-term effects of supplementation with MSM have not been examined.
  • MSM seemed to improve symptoms of allergic rhinitis and osteoarthritis. However, more high quality research using MSM is necessary to define its role in treating these conditions. Although the Arthritis Foundation reports that MSM is used for pain and inflammation, they do not recommend its use due to lack of clinical trials.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

Preliminary study suggests that MSM may reduce symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR). However, additional study is needed to confirm these findings.


Preliminary study has used MSM, alone or in combination with glucosamine, in the treatment of osteoarthritis. The combination may provide pain relief and reduction in inflammation. Further studies on MSM and its effects on patients with osteoarthritis are warranted.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, analgesia, anti-parasitic, antispasmodic, burns, cancer, cardiovascular - blood flow, connective tissue disorders, constipation, cramps, diabetes mellitus, drug hypersensitivity, eye disorders (inflammation), gastrointestinal disorders, headache, heartburn, immunostimulant, insect bites, interstitial cystitis (chronic inflammation of the bladder), liver disease, lupus erythematosus (autoimmune disorder with skin wounds), mood enhancement, obesity, periodontal disease, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), pulmonary conditions, radiation sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, scar prevention, scleroderma (chronic, degenerative disease that affects the joints, skin, and internal organs), sinusitis, skin conditions (stretch marks), snoring, synovitis (inflammation of the joint lining), tendonitis, wrinkle prevention.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • MSM comes in various dosages and is an ingredient in many products. Adult dosage may range from 500-8,000 milligrams daily with or after meals. For allergic rhinitis, 2,600 milligrams per day for up to 30 days has been used. For osteoarthritis, 500 milligrams per day for up to 12 weeks has been used.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is no proven effective dose of MSM in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to MSM.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Studies have shown safety and tolerability of MSM products when taken by mouth in recommended doses. Minimal side effects, including mild gastrointestinal discomfort, have been associated with the use of MSM. No studies on the long-term effects of MSM have been conducted.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • MSM is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant agents may have additive effects.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Although not well studied in humans, MSM may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In theory, use of MSM with other anti-inflammatory or antioxidant herbs or supplements may have additive effects.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Barrager E, Veltmann JR Jr, Schauss AG, et al. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med 2002;8(2):167-173.
  2. Beilke MA, Collins-Lech C, Sohnle PG. Effects of dimethyl sulfoxide on the oxidative function of human neutrophils. J Lab Clin Med 1987;110(1):91-96.
  3. Horvath K, Noker PE, Somfai-Relle S, et al. Toxicity of methylsulfonylmethane in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40(10):1459-1462.
  4. Layman DL, Jacob SW. The absorption, metabolism and excretion of dimethyl sulfoxide by rhesus monkeys. Life Sci 12-23-1985;37(25):2431-2437.
  5. Lin A, Nguy CH, Shic F, et al. Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Toxicol Lett 9-15-2001;123(2-3):169-177.
  6. Richmond VL. Incorporation of methylsulfonylmethane sulfur into guinea pig serum proteins. Life Sci 7-21-1986;39(3):263-268.
  7. Usha PR, Naidu MU. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24:353-363.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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