Safety, interactions, side effects
To date, there have been no serious side effects with the use of MSM reported in published clinical trials. The most commonly reported adverse effects have been gastrointestinal upset, headache, and fatigue.8 Studies have confirmed, however, that MSM crosses the blood-brain barrier, and it is not recommended for use in pregnant or nursing mothers.9
Cost, how supplied, dose
MSM is chiefly supplied as either powder-filled capsules or in compounded creams with other ingredients such as glucosamine sulfate. Powder-filled 1,000-mg capsules of MSM cost $5 to $10 per 100 capsules, depending on the supplier.
Studies of oral MSM for large-joint osteoarthritis typically used at least 6 g per day, usually in two divided doses. Safety studies have shown no unanticipated adverse reactions at these doses for up to three weeks with tolerability that is similar to topical blends.8
The idea of a compound that is nearly harmless but possibly relieves some of the country’s tremendous burden of osteoarthritis pain is appealing. However, there is still a lack of robust data to determine the true efficacy of MSM in this condition. It is quite possible, however, that future research will find an even bigger role for MSM in cancer detection and treatment.
Sherril Sego, FNP-C, DNP, is a staff clinician at the VA Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where she practices adult medicine and women’s health. She also teaches at the nursing schools of the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas.
- Herschler RJ. Dietary and pharmaceutical uses of methylsulfonylmethane and compositions comprising it. Patent number: US4514421A. Available at google.com/patents/US4514421
- Jacob SW, Appleton J. MSM the Definitive Guide: The Nutritional Breakthrough for Arthritis, Allergies, and More. Topanga, Calif.: Freedom Press; 2003.
- Pagonis TA, Givissis PA, Kritis AC, Christodoulou AC. The effect of methylsulfonylmethane on osteoarthritic large joints and mobility. International Journal of Orthopaedics. 2014;1(1):19-24. Available at ghrnet.org/index.php/ijo/article/view/745/862
- Hasegawa T, Ueno S, Kumamoto S, Yoshikai Y. Suppressive effect of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) on type II collagen-induced arthritis in DBA/1J mice. Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2004;32(7):421-427.
- Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: A randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11:50. Available at biomedcentral.com/ 1472-6882/11/50
- Brien S, Prescott P, Lewith G. Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:528403. Available at hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/528403
- Kwak J, Gallagher M, Ozdener MH, et al. Volatile biomarkers from human melanoma cells. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2013;931:90-96.
- Bauer BA. Are there any adverse effects from long-term use of MSM for arthritis pain? Mayo Clinic Web site. Published June 6, 2014. Available at mayoclinic.org/ diseases-conditions/arthritis/expert-answers/msm/faq-20058526
- Engelke UF, Tangerman A, Willemsen MA, et al. Dimethyl sulfone in human cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma confirmed by one-dimensional (1)H and two-dimensional (1)H-(13)C NMR. NMR Biomed. 2005;18(5):331-336.
All electronic documents accessed June 3, 2015.