MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is an organic sulfur compound. It can be found in conventional food in small quantities, but it is much more commonly found in dietary supplements, especially those dedicated to the prevention of injuries or during rehabilitation from injury. In today's text, I would like to take a closer look at the mentioned substance and show you when it can be used and when it is not so useful. It is also worth referring to the safety of MSM use, although there is rather nothing to worry about.
Prevention and treatment - does MSM support joints?
Prevention is what we should be most concerned about. By not allowing injury/degeneration to occur we minimize the risk of dysfunction. In this matter, we have strong support for MSM in the form of experiments on a tissue model. Unfortunately, studies on animal models do not bring such optimistic results.
In the case of mice supplemented with MSM a significant decrease of degenerated cartilage surface was observed. Unfortunately, further experiments with rodents and sheep document that despite the improvement in cartilage condition, the effect of MSM is not strong enough to protect it from degradation.
Does this mean that MSM is useless in the context of preventive joint support?
I think not, however, do not treat it as a golden mean that will take care of your joints. Proper warm-up, a technique of exercises, and minimizing the risk of injury are the basics, and MSM can be an addition, another "brick" to maintain joints health.
Let's move on to inflammatory joint diseases. It is a group of inflammatory disorders in the course of which the joints suffer the most. It is assumed that as many as 58 million people are affected globally, and by 2040 the incidence is expected to rise to almost 78.5 million. MSM has a strongly documented anti-inflammatory effect (in in vitro models). Studies on animals in which arthritis was artificially induced produced the same results. Conclusions from experiments with humans also do not differ from the above. Most often MSM, glucosamine sulfate, and chondroitin sulfate combinations were used in patients. Such combination led to reduced swelling in most cases, as well as reduced pain intensity and joint stiffness.
A 2011 meta-analysis on the use of MSM in the treatment of knee osteoarthritis, including 3 RCTs (1 of which used MSM - n= 50) with high quality data. Unfortunately, the effects achieved by supplementation appeared to be clinically insignificant, despite achieving statistical significance in pain reduction over 12 weeks of supplementation. However, a significant reduction in homocysteine levels was observed (deviating from the influence on joints).
Other inflammatory conditions are not unaffected!
MSM does not only reduce inflammation in bones and joints. A review of clinical cases from 1994 suggests that most patients suffering from cystitis will gain therapeutic benefit from taking this sulphur compound. Allergic patients suffering from rhinitis may also feel better.
Among other things, a significant decrease in protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation, as well as an increase in plasma antioxidant capacity, were observed in physically active people who were supplemented with MSM. A single dose worked well in the context of antioxidant protection on average, but a 10-day therapy allowed the maintenance of significantly higher glutathione (a primary antioxidant enzyme) concentrations after exercise. The effects of MSM on oxidative stress were also tested in athletes of resistance sports. A dose of 3g per day applied for 4 weeks not only increased the antioxidant capacity but also reduced homocysteine levels. A 2-week supplementation did not have such effects. To sum it up - MSM may be potentially useful for the prevention of inflammatory diseases, as well as for minimizing the risk of colds during a heavy training period. However, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, I would use it a little further away from exercise.
Potentially, yes. After all, it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and in vitro and animal model studies also show promising results. At the same time, we do not have data from studies involving human subjects to confirm this hypothesis. So far one experiment suggests that the use of MSM may reduce the risk of lung and colon cancer. We can only wait for more similar results confirming this effect further.
Safety of use
MSM seems to be a safe compound. So far, experiments using an animal model (mainly rodents) have shown no side effects at doses of 1-5g/kg of body weight. The GDA considers a safe dose to be around 4850mg/day.
Be careful with alcohol!
There is no hard evidence documenting the correlation between increased sensitivity to alcohol and higher intake of MSM. At the same time, there are reports supporting this hypothesis with the use of other sulfur-containing molecules. An example is the use of disulfiram in the treatment of alcoholism - it increases the intensity and frequency of adverse reactions. So if you don't want to feel bad and increase the risk of ending the party prematurely in a not-so-cultured style - let go of alcohol consumption with MSM supplementation or MSM supplementation during the period of planned parties.
It's worth mentioning that MSM is a compound sensitive to low and high temperatures, so take care of proper storage of products containing it!