It is found in every living cell of every animal and plant, as it is the nutrient that feeds all plant and animal processes. Hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and antioxidants all depend on it.
Due to the small molecular size of MSM, it is used in a wide range of processes making it a "universal currency" in the body. Sulphur is therefore extremely important in human nutrition. Small amounts of MSM are available in fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, and even unpasteurized milk. Sulfur is most abundantly found in foods such as eggs and red peppers, but can also be found in grains, legumes, animal proteins, onions, garlic, asparagus, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and broccoli. Although MSM is abundant in nature, even the richest natural sources only provide MSM in the level of several parts per million. Additionally, modern food processing depletes natural sulphur and most of the volatile MSM we need is lost in washing, cooking, or steaming.
Sulphur is not only required in the body for daily functions, it is required in larger quantities if systems are stressed or repairing damage. The required amount varies according to the age, stress level, activity level, and disease or injury of the individual. Studies have shown that low levels of MSM in the body correlate with physical and mental stress, impaired organ function, fatigue, and increasing susceptibility to diseases. Taking supplemental MSM appears to offer a multitude of benefits including combating a wide range of health problems, increasing resistance to diseases, and creating health and well-being.
MSM plays many different, but equally essential roles in the human body. MSM is a required structural mineral for healthy hair, skin, and nails. It is also necessary to help maintain the flexibility and elasticity of most all bodily tissues and is needed to maintain cell membrane permeability. Proper permeability allows cells to absorb nutrients and expel waste. MSM supports sulfur-containing amino acids such as methionine and cystine, which are necessary for the healing and repair of most bodily tissues, particularly skin, blood vessels, organs, and joints. MSM is a pure, stable, odorless crystalline powder without an unpleasant taste or odor. It does not produce intestinal gas or body odor that may occur with other forms of sulfur.
MSM May Assist the Body's Natural Maintenance & Repair of Joints By:
Reducing inflammation, which occurs as a response to damage, overuse, or injury in rheumatoid arthritis;
Speeding re-growth of damaged cartilage and improving the strength and resilience of cartilage by inhibiting the enzymes which break it down;
Aiding repair of ligaments, tendons and other connective tissue;
Reducing internal scar tissue, which may impede movement or bind nerves;
Keeping joint fluid healthy to lubricate and nourish joints;
Reducing chronic muscle tension around tender joints;
Supporting general health as it acts as an antioxidant in the Immune System;
Reducing auto-immune attack of joints intrinsic to rheumatoid arthritis
Reducing allergic responses associated with some cases of osteoarthritis
Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, and a restricted range of movement. All joints are similar in that they are comprised of two (or more) adjoining movable bones, whose adjacent surfaces are covered with a layer of cartilage, and are surrounded by a fluid-filled capsule encasing ligaments. More that 55 million Americans suffer from osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and related conditions. After strain or injury, or in a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis there is local inflammation. The area may feel swollen or hot to the touch, or simply tender. This tends to be a short-term response, although it may account for much of the initial pain and hence the popularity of anti-inflammatory drugs.
The nerves, which sense pain, are mainly located in the soft tissue of our bodies such as the muscles. Many types of pain can be attributed to pressure differential involving the cells that make up tissue. When outside pressure drops, cells swell and become inflamed. Nerves register the inflammation and we experience pain symptoms. When an area becomes inflamed, cells around the affected area become less permeable, that is, they do not allow the free passage of water to balance up the fluid pressures on each side of them. The pressure builds up on the inflamed side, causing pain. Often what are contributing to the pain are rigid fibrous tissue cells that lack flexibility and permeability.
MSM appears to counter inflammation directly. In fact, one of the most significant applications of organic sulfur is its ability to alleviate pain associated with systemic inflammatory disorders, such as arthritis. Use of MSM has been shown to restore flexibility to the protein layer of cell walls, allowing fluids to pass through the tissue more easily. MSM has the ability to sustain cell flow-through, allowing harmful substances to flow out while permitting nutrients to flow in. This prevents pressure buildup in cells, which causes inflammation in the joints and elsewhere and translates to pain. MSM allows fluid pressures to be balanced fairly quickly so inflammation subsides naturally. This softens the tissue and helps to equalize pressure thereby reducing if not totally eliminating the cause of the pain. MSM, by equalizing cell pressure, treats the cause of inflammation, unlike aspirin that treats the symptom by dulling the body's perception of pain.
In most cases of back pain, joint strain, stiffness, or aches associated with joints, there is damage to the tissues of the joint. The first tissue affected is generally cartilage. Cartilage is there to cushion joints and to allow joint surfaces to glide smoothly over each other. Cartilage is the first casualty of wear and tear at the joint, and this is the first stage of arthritis. Cartilage can be damaged by strain or injury, or by heavy use such as manual labor or repetitive physical movement in work or athletics. As we get older, cartilage loses its elastic resilience, becoming denser and harder, particularly in the discs of the back.
If this cartilage layer becomes thinner through wear, injury or aging, the vertebrae may impinge upon nerves causing tingling, muscle spasm, or at worst, trapped nerve pain. It has been shown that MSM can help prevent the breakdown process of cartilage by inhibiting cartilaginase enzymes. Moreover, for rebuilding cartilage, sulphur is vital and if insufficient quantities are available this limits the rate of cartilage re-growth. Additionally, in bones, joints, and ligaments carbohydrate metabolism, sulfur is needed to produce insulin and other vital components that contribute to healthy carbohydrate metabolism.
MSM provides a ready source of bio-available sulphur that is easily absorbed and transported within the body. The matrix of cartilage is like a sponge that draws in water to act as a cushioning support. Sulphur compounds are an essential part of the "sponge". MSM also plays a part in production of collagen, the tough fibers within cartilage that provide its tensile strength.
MSM has been shown to reduce excessive cross-linking of collagen, which is the cause of the loss of elasticity of older people's skin. Elasticity of the internal connective tissue is just as important to allow free in expansive movement. When a scar forms for any reason, either on the skin or internally, abnormal cross-linking can cause excessive harder scar tissue. Internal scarring can restrict movement or bind to nerves. The fluid that surrounds the moving surfaces of joints, lubricating and nourishing them, is another place where sulphur is vital. It has been found that in osteoarthritis there is less sulphur in this fluid and correspondingly, in the blood stream. Boosting sulphur levels in the blood by taking MSM provides a supply of organic sulphur to the joint fluid. A good blood supply to the joints is crucial for bringing nutrients and removing breakdown products. MSM significantly increases the success rate in cases of joint pain or malfunction.
Muscle Soreness & Cramping
Muscles locked in spasm can restrict blood flow. They are also a direct cause of pain in the affected area. MSM has demonstrated the remarkable ability to reduce the incidence of or eliminate entirely muscle soreness, and leg and back cramps, particularly in geriatric patients who have such cramps during the night or after long periods of inactivity, and in athletes after periods of high physical stress.
Marathon runners and other athletes who compete or exercise vigorously can learn from trainers of million-dollar racehorses. These trainers will administer MSM to their prize horses both before a race to prevent muscle soreness and afterward to lessen the risk of cramping. Post-athletic fatigue syndrome, which generally follows intense athletic activity and usually persists for eight to ten days, was gone in two to three days in individuals who had taken 1-2 grams (1,000 to 2,000 mg) of MSM per day in split dosages for the preceding six months.
Over 40 million people are affected by allergies with reactions ranging from somewhat bothersome to potentially fatal. An allergic response occurs when the body's immune system reacts to otherwise harmless substances we call allergens. Your body produces antibodies to fight the allergens. Once our immune system decides that a particular type of pollen, for example, is a hostile invader, it becomes "sensitized" to it, and reacts by producing antibodies that give us allergy symptoms. This can last for years, and perhaps a lifetime.
MSM coats the mucous membranes, occupying the binding sites that the food allergens would otherwise occupy. This facilitates normal digestion and allows the body to extract the maximum nutritional value from foods. Individuals who experience an allergic response to certain foods, i.e. food allergies, with foods such as milk, citrus, wheat, cereals, or shrimp have reported an improved, or complete, tolerance to these substances with MSM use.
MSM helps the body maintain its natural barriers against allergens, which alleviates the allergic response to pollen, dander and foods. MSM supports the integrity of healthy mucous membrane tissue. Dr. Earl L. Mindell, author of The Power of MSM and The MSM Miracle, recommends allergy sufferers begin taking at least 6,000mg of MSM per day for three weeks and reduce to 3,000mg per day thereafter. Additionally, he recommends people drink more water and increase their intake of Vitamin C to lower histamine levels. For this reason, it is highly recommended to take Vitamin C in conjunction with MSM.
Additional Roles of Sulphur & MSM
Tests indicate that MSM may present a blocking interface against parasites by competing for binding, or receptor, sites at the mucous membrane surfaces. One study demonstrated MSM's effectiveness in knocking out Giardia. Additionally, added flexibility and permeability to the gastrointestinal tract can result in reduced diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and hyperacidity.
MSM has been shown to reduce cataracts by allowing proper levels of fluids to flow through optical tissues, removing harmful particles.
MSM assists healthy lung function by supporting the cell membranes involved in oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange.
Sulfur is necessary for the production of collagen and keratin. These are the primary proteins that make up hair, skin, and nails. MSM supports tissue pliability and encourages the body's ability to repair damaged skin. MSM strengthens hair and nails, and aids in wound healing.
MSM offers a natural way to reduce pain and inflammation without side effects. It may even deliver as much or even more pain relief as some of the standard painkillers. It just doesn't work as fast. That is due to the fact that MSM is a nutritional supplement, not a pharmaceutical drug. Persons supplementing with MSM will often notice easing of pain & discomfort, more energy, and generally better health.
Possible External Uses of MSM:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Red, irritated, & tired eyes Stronger Fingernails
Bruises Skin Problems
Rashes Eye Inflammation
Sunburn Muscles Cramps and Pain
Wrinkles Varicose Veins
Thicker Hair Tendonitis & Bursitis: Joint Pain
Other Documented Uses:
Increases Blood Circulation
Asthma Relieves Stress
Allergies Crones Disease
MSM & Other Beneficial Nutrition
Glucosamine is part of the structure of cartilage, ligaments and tendons. It is made by the body, for which sulphur in an organic form is required. The rate of Glucosamine production may be limited by diet or age. Glucosamine is a much larger molecule than MSM and so less readily absorbed in the intestine. Because of this it may be more efficient to take MSM with Glucosamine to boost the body's own production of Glucosamine , than to take Glucosamine alone. Clinical evidence supports taking a combination of both MSM & Glucosamine for best effect.
Although there are several products on the market containing both Chondroiton and Glucosamine , studies show that Chondroiton sulfate consists of derivatives of Glucosamine sulfate, which are partially hydrolized (called glycosaminoglycans), which are further attached to sugars. These are long chemical strings, 50-100 times the size of Glucosamine sulfate. Based on their size, according to recent studies, these chemical strings will pass through a healthy human intestinal lining with only 0 to 13% of the Chondroiton being ingested. Chondroiton is quite expensive; a quality product with both Glucosamine and Chondroiton would retail for about $45-$50 for 100 capsules. That equates to expensive urine!
Certain vitamins may play a part in healing degenerated joints, and taking these with MSM is likely to give greater benefit than taking either independently. Vitamin C, like MSM, is very important in tissue repair, and it is known to play a major role in making collagen. Vitamin E assists the body's natural control of inflammation. A combination of MSM and Vitamin E may be of great benefit, especially in rheumatoid arthritis. B Vitamins have been used with success for arthritic conditions in some clinical trials.
Essential oils of the omega-6 and omega-3 types can boost the body's "firefighting" against inflammation too. Evening primrose oil and cod liver oil may be very helpful especially in the short term. Regular use of seed oils like sunflower oil, and oily fish in the diet is recommended. For anyone not eating fish, fish oil capsules are well worthwhile (or flax oil for vegans).
Of the trace minerals, boron and manganese have been found to protect against osteoarthritis and may help to recover joint health.
A Word on Fibromyalgia According to the Merck Manual, a standard reference book used in allopathic medicine, Fibromyalgia is defined as achy pain and stiffness in soft tissue, including, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Fibromyalgia pain may occur throughout the body or may be restricted in certain locations. Women tend to have more pervasive Fibromyalgia symptoms throughout the entire body, where as men often have localized pain in specific joints or other regions of the body.
The cause of Fibromyalgia is unknown. There may be a link between Fibromyalgia and a sleep disturbance, since most patients have disruptive sleep patterns. Other factors that may contribute to the development of Fibromyalgia or sustain symptoms are psychological stress, immune or endocrine abnormalities, or biochemical abnormalities in the central nervous system, such as altered serotonin levels.
Diagnosis A physician bases diagnosis on the patient's description of chronic widespread pain and the finding of tender points at specific locations in the body. There are no blood or x-ray tests that are abnormal in Fibromyalgia. Common conditions that may mimic Fibromyalgia include hypothyroidism, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and infections. These can usually be excluded by examination and laboratory tests.
Summary of Sulfur needs in the body:
Sulfur is needed to form blood proteins and amino acids
Sulfur provides the chemical links needed to form collagen, the protein found in connective tissue
Sulfur is essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails
Sulfur activates and helps the body utilize Vitamin C, B1, B5 (pantothenic acid) and biotin
Sulfur is used by the liver to manufacture bile, a necessary element for proper digestion
Sulfur is essential in maintaining body pH, the acid-alkaline balance
Sulfur is an important component in insulin production, and aids in carbohydrate metabolism
Suggested Usage: Effective intake is generally in the range of 2-8 grams per day in 2-3 divided increments. To be effective, MSM should be taken frequently, ideally, every day. In severe cases, up to 60 to 80 grams per day have been used without side effects. The optimum effective dosage is dependent upon body size, age, the MSM blood level prior to administration, and the nature and severity of the condition for which you are using it. Experiment with different amounts to find out what works best for you. Individual results can vary dramatically and in some cases, may take up to 3 weeks for effects to be noticed. We suggest taking 4 capsules or 2 tsp. daily to start.