What Does MSM Do for Your Body? (2024)

  • What Is
    • What is MSM?
  • How MSM Works
    • How does MSM work?
  • Benefits
    • MSM benefits
  • Side Effects
    • What are the side effects of MSM?
  • Sulfur-Rich Foods
    • Consider eating sulfur-rich foods instead
  • Talk to Your Doctor
    • Talk to your doctor
  • Comments
  • More

What is MSM?

What Does MSM Do for Your Body? (1)

MSM is a dietary supplement often promoted for healthy skin and joints. MSM is good for arthritis, inflammation, antioxidant power, and detoxification.

MSM is a dietary supplement often promoted for healthy skin and joints. Early studies suggest it might have some health benefits, but it’s not clear exactly how it works.

MSM is a sulfur compound that naturally occurs in your body and in plants, foods, and animals. MSM stands for methylsulfonylmethane but is sometimes also called other names, including:

  • Dimethyl sulfone
  • Sulfonylbismethane
  • Organic sulfur
  • Methyl sulfone
  • Crystalline dimethyl sulfoxide

MSM supplements are usually man-made, derived from another compound called dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a byproduct of the pulp and paper industry. DMSO and MSM were first used in labs as a solvent, but as scientists experimented with using DMSO as a medicine, they also experimented with MSM. In 1981, Dr. Herschler patented MSM as a treatment to soften and smooth the skin and strengthen nails.

Today, DMSO and MSM are available as industrial solvents and as dietary sulfur supplements. You can get MSM in creams and in powder, pill, or capsule form with different doses. It’s often one of many ingredients in supplements for your joints and skin, hair, and nails.

How does MSM work?

Your body uses sulfur to make a protein called collagen and an amino sugar called glucosamine. Both compounds help build and maintain healthy bones and joints. Sulfur also helps make cells called immunoglobulins, which you need for a healthy immune system.

MSM naturally contains a type of sulfur called sulfate, so experts say it’s a sulfur donor, which means it converts to or adds more sulfur to your body. It’s not exactly clear how MSM works, though. Studies show you quickly absorb MSM throughout your body, though you get rid of most of it via your urine.

MSM benefits

People take MSM for lots of conditions. The research supporting its use is promising, but more and larger studies are necessary.

Might help arthritis pain

MSM is a common joint and arthritis supplement. Some studies show it can help ease joint and muscle pain.

One study divided patients with knee osteoarthritis into groups. They received MSM, glucosamine, both MSM and glucosamine, or a placebo pill. Those who received the MSM or MSM with glucosamine reported lower levels of pain, with the combination treatment showing the most improvement in patients. While both helped pain, glucosamine lowered swelling more than MSM.

Another trial study gave patients with knee osteoarthritis either MSM or a placebo pill for 12 weeks. About 25 percent of the MSM patients had lower pain and better movement and function in the knee. There was no change in joint stiffness.

One other study gave patients a large dose of 6,000 milligrams of MSM for osteoarthritis of the knee. It lowered pain and helped improve function with no side effects. Such studies suggest it might help, but more research is necessary.

Might lower inflammation

Researchers tested MSM on immune cells in lab dishes. MSM blocked the growth of cells that cause inflammation and blocked enzymes that make free radicals, unstable molecules that cause physical damage.

In another study, researchers tested the effects of MSM on inflammation after exercise. Some healthy men took MSM supplements for 28 days while others took a placebo supplement. At the end of the month, each group engaged in a round of intense exercises. Those who took the MSM had lower blood levels of inflammation markers right after exercise.

Might act as an antioxidant

Antioxidants are compounds that neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals. Your body makes these as part of normal activities, but too many free radicals can damage your cells. Your body normally makes antioxidants, like glutathione, to take care of this problem, and you can get some from the food you eat, too.

MSM might also act as an antioxidant and help block proteins and enzymes that make free radicals.

Might help detoxification

Your body binds sulfur to some compounds and drugs, which makes them water-soluble and easy to get rid of in your urine or other methods. This process is called sulfation and is important for some medications like acetaminophen. Studies show MSM might add to this process and help detoxify acetaminophen, which could be helpful in cases of poisoning.

Exposure to toxins or poisons can also drain your body of important antioxidants that help in detoxification, like glutathione. Studies show MSM can lower the amount of glutathione depletion from toxins.

What are the side effects of MSM?

MSM is likely safe to take by mouth for up to 6 months. There isn’t enough information to know if MSM is safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, though, so you should avoid it at these times.

MSM can also cause some side effects.

Digestive problems

The most common side effects of MSM supplements are digestive problems, including nausea, vomiting, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

Allergic reaction

MSM supplements can cause allergic reactions. Symptoms include hives, itchiness, skin rash, and lip, face, or eye swelling. If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction, stop taking MSM supplements and talk to your doctor.

Interfere with medication

Dietary supplements can interact with your medication. While MSM is likely safe to take, talk to your doctor first. MSM might interact with your drug detoxification pathways, which could affect your medications. It might also interact with blood thinners, which could increase your risk of bleeding.

Consider eating sulfur-rich foods instead

MSM and dietary supplements are popular remedies, but there isn’t a lot of good research yet to strongly recommend MSM. In most cases, it’s best to get the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals you need from food.

If you want to get more sulfur, you can add sulfur-rich foods to your diet, including:

  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus

Talk to your doctor

Overall, MSM is probably safe to take, but it might be unnecessary. Your body gets rid of most of the toxins you intake, and you might not need high doses of sulfur.

There is no recommended daily allowance for sulfur, and a lack of sulfur doesn’t cause a known condition. Plus, MSM supplements can be expensive and can cause unwanted side effects.

If you’re thinking about taking MSM or other supplements, talk to your doctor and pharmacist first.

QUESTION Negative emotions are more powerful than positive emotions. See Answer

Medically Reviewed on 9/8/2022



Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry: "Identification of sulfation sites of metabolites and prediction of the compounds' biological effects."

Arthritis Foundation: "Supplement and Herb Guide for Arthritis Symptoms."

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Antioxidants."

Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition: "MSM enhances LPS-induced inflammatory response after exercise."

Mount Sinai: "Sulfur."

National Capital Poison Center: "Methylsulfonylmethane: A Safe Treatment for Arthritis Pain?"

National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus: "Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)."

Nutrients: "Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement." Nutrients: "Small Intestinal Absorption of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and Accumulation of the Sulfur Moiety in Selected Tissues of Mice."

Versus Arthritis: "MSM."

What Does MSM Do for Your Body? (2024)


What does MSM do to the body? ›

Laboratory studies have found that MSM has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Sulphur, which is a major component of MSM, plays an important role in making collagen and glucosamine, both of which are vital for healthy bones and joints, and in the production of immunoglobulins, which help your immune system.

What is the downside of MSM? ›

In some people, MSM might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach discomfort. When applied to the skin: MSM is possibly safe when used in combination with other ingredients, such as silymarin or hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil, for up to 20 days.

How long does it take for MSM to work in your body? ›

The effectiveness of MSM can vary from person to person and may depend on what condition you are taking it for. While some people may experience relief within a few weeks, it could take longer for others. As Soumya shares, “Generally, it can be anywhere from 3-16 weeks to start noticing any changes.”

What should you not take with MSM? ›

What Are Warnings and Precautions for MSM? This medication contains MSM. Do not take dimethyl sulfone, DMSO2, methylsulfonylmethane, Glucosamine & Chondroitin with MSM, Flex-a-min, MSM glucosamine chondroitin, Osteo BiFlex plus MSM, or Triflex if you are allergic to MSM or any ingredients contained in this drug.

Does MSM detox the liver? ›

Liver Detoxification Support

In the liver, various sulfur compounds and antioxidants bind with toxins through a process called conjugation, allowing them to be safely excreted. MSM can assist detoxification by donating sulfur groups needed for formation of important sulfur detoxifying agents.

Does MSM heal the gut? ›

Improves Digestive Problems

MSM can help rebuild the lining of the digestive tract and lower inflammatory responses in response to allergic reactions to certain foods.

Is it okay to take MSM every day? ›

So far, studies have shown minimal side effects when MSM is taken orally in a dosage of 3 grams daily for six months, but some people may experience mild gastrointestinal side effects such as discomfort or diarrhea. Risks. Don't take any chances if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Does MSM increase hair growth? ›

MSM is a naturally-occurring compound that some people report can help stimulate hair growth. But there's not yet enough research to support these claims. Talk with a doctor before using MSM for hair growth.

Does MSM get rid of inflammation? ›

Many of MSM's benefits have links to its anti-inflammatory action. Inflammation is a factor in many health conditions, including arthritis, allergies, and skin conditions. By reducing inflammation, MSM may be able to reduce or eliminate certain symptoms.

What does MSM do for the brain? ›

Appearance of MSM in significant concentrations in the human brain indicates ready transfer across the intact blood-brain barrier, of a compound with no known medical benefits.

What foods are high in MSM? ›

MSM is found in protein-rich foods, such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and legumes. Other good sources include garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, and wheat germ.

What is the best way to absorb MSM? ›

MSM is a small molecule and can be quickly absorbed by the skin. All preparations offer different benefits. The dosage plays the most decisive role.

What are the negative effects of MSM? ›

In some people, MSM might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, and stomach discomfort. When applied to the skin: MSM is possibly safe when used in combination with other ingredients, such as silymarin or hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil, for up to 20 days.

Should you take magnesium with MSM? ›

Research indicates that MSM aids in the absorption of essential nutrients, making it an ideal partner for magnesium. This means you're not only getting more bang for your buck but also enjoying a higher level of effectiveness.

Do you need vitamin C with MSM? ›

MSM was found to work best when taken alongside vitamin C. It's likely that the presence of the vitamin improves the rate of absorbance of the MSM, producing more potent effects. Additionally, vitamin C and MSM share several complementary roles, making them ideal companions when taken as a supplement.

Does MSM help hair growth? ›

One of these supplements is the naturally occurring compound methylsulfonylmethane, which has become a popular supplement, used most commonly for its anti-inflammatory properties. Methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM for short) is also believed to stimulate hair growth and treat male pattern baldness.

Does MSM release toxins? ›

This is because MSM is a potent detoxifier. It dissolves many compounds, reacts with certain toxins and greatly facilitates elimination of toxic wastes from the cells.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Manual Maggio

Last Updated:

Views: 5683

Rating: 4.9 / 5 (69 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Manual Maggio

Birthday: 1998-01-20

Address: 359 Kelvin Stream, Lake Eldonview, MT 33517-1242

Phone: +577037762465

Job: Product Hospitality Supervisor

Hobby: Gardening, Web surfing, Video gaming, Amateur radio, Flag Football, Reading, Table tennis

Introduction: My name is Manual Maggio, I am a thankful, tender, adventurous, delightful, fantastic, proud, graceful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.