What Does Modern Medicine Think of MSM?

Webmd.com says:

MSM is a chemical found in plants, animals, and humans. It can also be made in a laboratory. People use it as a medicine.

MSM is used for chronic pain, osteoarthritis, joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, bursitis, tendonitis, tenosynovitis, musculoskeletal pain, muscle cramps, scleroderma, scar tissue, stretch marks, hair loss, wrinkles, protection against sun/wind burn, eye inflammation, oral hygiene, periodontal disease, wounds, cuts, and abrasions/accelerated wound healing. It is either taken by mouth or applied to the skin for these uses. You may have heard about MSM because of the book The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain. There isnʼt much published scientific research to support its use.

MSM is also used for relief of allergies, chronic constipation, “sour stomach,” ulcers, a bowel disease called diverticulosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), mood elevation, obesity, poor circulation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. It is also used for type 2 diabetes, liver problems, Alzheimerʼs disease, lung disorders including emphysema and pneumonia, chronic fatigue syndrome, autoimmune disorders (systemic lupus erythematous), HIV infection and AIDS, and cancer (breast cancer and colon cancer).

Other uses of MSM include eye inflammation, mucous membrane inflammation, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, leg cramps, migraine, headaches, hangover, parasitic infections of the intestinal and urogenital tracts including Trichomonas vaginalis and Giardia, yeast infections, insect bites, radiation poisoning, and to boost the immune system.

MSM is also used to control snoring. In fact, directions for making MSM nose drops for snoring have been published, but thereʼs no evidence that MSM has any effect on snoring.

Contrary to some MSM promotional literature, there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for MSM or sulfur, which it contains. Sulfur deficiency has not been described in the medical literature.

How does it work? MSM might supply sulfur to make other chemicals in the body.

Modern medicinal uses

Possibly Effective for:

  • Osteoarthritis. Taking MSM by mouth seems to slightly reduce some symptoms of arthritis of the knee, such as pain and joint movement. But the changes seem to be small, and it might not reduce other symptoms such as stiffness.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Hay fever.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Muscle and bone problems.
  • Snoring.
  • Allergies.
  • Scar tissue.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Wrinkles.
  • Protection against sun/wind burn.
  • Eye swelling.
  • Dental disease.
  • Wounds.
  • Asthma.
  • Stomach upset.
  • Constipation.
  • Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Mood elevation.
  • Obesity.
  • Poor circulation.
  • High blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol.
  • Type 2 diabetes.
  • Other conditions.

Medical studies on MSM

Here are the findings of one medical study on using MSM and DMSO to treat osteoarthritis

Study name:

Systematic review of the nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the treatment of osteoarthritis Brien B.Sc., M.Sc., Ph.D.y*, P. Prescott B.Sc., D.I.C., A.R.C.S.z, N. Bashiry, H. Lewithy and G. Lewith D.M., F.R.C.P.y y Department of Primary Care, University of Southampton, UK z School of Mathematics, University of Southampton, UK

Study findings:
Six studies were included [evaluating a total of 681 patients with OA of the knee for DMSO (N 1⁄4 297 on active treatment); 168 patients for MSM (N 1⁄4 52 on active treatment)]. Two of the four DMSO trials, and both MSM trials reported significant improvement in pain outcomes in the treatment group compared to comparator treatments, however, methodological issues and concerns over optimal dosage and treatment period, were highlighted.

Here is another study.

Study name: Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a
pilot clinical trial1,2 Dr L. S. Kim N.D., Medical Directory*, Dr L. J. Axelrod N.D., Professorz, Dr P. Howard
M.D., Medical Directorx, Dr N. Buratovich N.D., Chairk and Dr R. F. Waters Ph.D., Chair { y Southwest College Research Institute, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe, AZ, USA z Division of Clinical Sciences, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe, AZ, USA x Arthritis Health Center, USA k Department of Physical Medicine, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe, AZ, USA { Department of Research, Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, Tempe, AZ, USA

Study findings:
Compared to placebo, MSM produced significant decreases in WOMAC pain and physical function impairment (P < 0.05). No notable changes were found in WOMAC stiffness and aggregated total symptoms scores. MSM also produced improvement in performing activities of daily living when compared to placebo on the SF-36 evaluation
(P < 0.05).

WOMAC: Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index

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