The entry will not be very “scientific” as MSM is not very well researched. There have been a few clinical trials on this substance, there have been a few for its twin – DMSO, but that’s about it. Most of it has to be guessed at – and possibly risked by testing on yourself.
Sometimes these tests can be a very good idea. Literally just yesterday a friend wrote to me bragging that after a few days of MSM her hair stopped falling out. She always had literally hundreds of them stuck in the bathtub after bathing, now – two, three….
My experience is probably even more interesting. A long, long time ago during a martial arts training I tore a muscle, thus ending my promising career. To make matters worse, the damage was permanent – for a good 7 years I was not able to do forward bends, I had a slight limp when walking and I still felt slight pain when the weather changed.
That’s when I became interested in MSM – I read that quite a few people had significant cardiovascular improvement after it. As I had some problems with peripheral vessels, I thought – what the hell. I bought it, started eating it, watched my skin every day looking for changes. Nothing. Apparently another non-working supplement that the internet lied about… well, it was time for my evening stretch. And then I felt something was wrong. During a forward bend, instead of keeping my fingers a good 15 cm off the ground, I touched it with both fists. In a bit of shock, I tried a couple of kicks – all OK, no pain… what’s going on? The injury disappeared, after 7 years suddenly not the slightest trace of it remained. After only 3 days (yes, there is no mistake!) of taking some strange supplement from the internet. What is more, the effect has lasted till this day, for more than 10 years. It was some kind of magic.
What is this substance and what role does it play in the body? It is hard to say. It’s a sulfur compound, and of course you can write about where in the metabolic pathway of the methylation cycle it occurs, at what point in the intracellular metabolism it plays its role, but does that make sense? Has knowledge of the atomic weight of oxygen ever helped a drowning man? Even with a thorough knowledge of all the chemical relationships, we won’t be able to tell if the healing effect – strong and pronounced – comes from supplementing a deficiency or flooding the body with an excess. Does it come from MSM itself, or from some reaction it causes? It is said to have an anti-inflammatory effect, it is said to provide methyl groups to the body, presumably large amounts of it can block some reactions in our bodies. There are simply too many possibilities to go into here.
What does the research say? Very little. Something that forum users suffering from rheumatoid arthritis confirm – it is extremely effective in reducing the pain associated with the disease. In practice, it happened that patients were able to get out of bed after a few days and return to activity. It eliminated hay fever. The Internet is buzzing with rumors, but as is usually the case, half of them come from the websites of sellers of this specific product. In fact, it is still a great unknown, as the modern medical machinery is mainly interested in banning sales and sweeping the matter under the table, rather than in studies indicating potential benefits.
At one time there was much talk about the potential role of the twin substance DMSO in the treatment of systemic scleroderma. Many doctors claimed that the effects were as incredible as in my case, with patients returning to daily activities after a short time, almost completely healthy. One of the few studies conducted did not show reversal of the disease, but there was a great improvement in pain. On the other hand, there is an incredibly interesting study in which the brains of monkeys were experimentally damaged to mimic a stroke. Every monkey in the group that received the saline solution (something like a placebo) died, half of those that received the “standard drug” died, while only 7% of those that received DMSO died. What’s more, those that survived had significantly less damage than the monkeys receiving the standard treatment. Since stroke is one of the more common causes of death and disability, one might ask – why hasn’t it been tested until now to see if MSM can increase the chance of survival? The study being described was done 43 years ago!
There are about 140 grams of sulfur in our bodies. In comparison, iron only has 4 grams. Anyone ever heard of the problem of “sulfur deficiency”? Seen the content of this element written on the package in the store? Sulfur is responsible for two of the most important systems in our body – movement and blood circulation. Without it, veins and arteries burst or clog, bones and tendons weaken, skin wrinkles and begins to sag. I’ll admit that I don’t understand the silence around the problem. Perhaps I would conclude that since no one is addressing it, there is apparently nothing there to look for, were it not for my own personal experience.
I can’t answer the question of whether it should be supplemented, and if so, how much. As I wrote at the beginning, it is impossible to answer how MSM works. Maybe it simply supplements a sulfur deficiency? Maybe it provides methyl groups? Or is it so complex that it would take dozens of pages to dissect? The answer, of course, would be clinical trials, which are necessary since no one can predict all the consequences of putting large amounts of a substance into the body. Theoretically, it may turn out that we will enjoy good health for several years and then develop Alzheimer’s disease. But it may also turn out that the opposite will be true, and supplementation will provide us with 100% protection against this disease. I personally use very small doses over long periods of time – I last ate a teaspoon a good month ago.
Some research on cancer, an animal study study in which it was almost as effective as chemotherapy:
Similar study shows protective effect against cancer, reducing disease risk in animals by half:
An article on MSM in cancer: