How MSM Might Help Your Arthritis

Glucosamine and MSM pills
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MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) has been hyped as a cure for arthritis, based on testimonials but little valid scientific data. Stanley Jacob, M.D. who developed MSM maintains that the supplement does not cure arthritis, but he believes it offers many benefits.


MSM has been marketed for pain and inflammation associated with:

MSM also claims to help constipation, allergies, and even snoring. MSM has not been shown to preserve cartilage, nor halt joint destruction and deformity. Any beneficial effects of MSM last only as long as MSM is taken.


MSM is a naturally-occurring sulfur compound found in fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, fish, and grains. While MSM is found in the normal human diet, as foods are processed, MSM is destroyed. MSM is an odorless, tasteless, white, water-soluble, crystalline solid in its purified form.

Is MSM Natural?

MSM can be found naturally in foods, but it is marketed as a dietary supplement and sold as a chemical compound derived from DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide). DMSO is found in an industrial-grade and also a medical-grade. DMSO, which was touted as a miracle treatment for arthritis in the 1960s, became controversial because of potential problems and unpleasant side effects. As DMSO faded from use as an arthritis treatment, MSM gained momentum.

What the Research Says

Animal studies have supported the benefits of MSM. Human studies published in peer-reviewed medical or scientific journals are few. In animal studies involving mice, MSM relieved symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus nephritis.

There have been two human, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials that have indicated that MSM is effective for osteoarthritis. One of the studies was published by the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage.

How MSM Is Marketed

MSM is sold as an oral formulation (solution, tablets, or capsules). It is sometimes combined with other dietary supplements, such as glucosamine, chondroitin, vitamin C, and others. MSM is also sold as a topical cream.

Before Trying MSM

Be sure to inform your doctor that you are going to take MSM. Interactions between MSM and other prescription medications, non-prescription medications, dietary supplements, or herbal remedies are possible but unknown.

If you are going to buy MSM, it is important to buy from a reputable manufacturer or vendor. Choose a product with a USP notation (for US Pharmacopoeia standards). It is important to select a quality brand. Different brands may vary in the amount of active ingredient they contain.

How to Take MSM

The Arthritis Foundation recommends starting with a low dosage of 500 mg twice a day and increasing gradually to 1,000 mg twice a day. Note any side effects and notify your doctor. After starting MSM, allow a reasonable amount of time to notice any benefits. If after a certain time period you do not notice any benefit, decide along with your doctor if you should discontinue MSM.

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Article Sources

  • Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Kim LS. et al. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2006 Mar;14(3):286-94.

  • Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM, Drugfinder
  • MSM, Quackwatch
  • MSM - DMSO, Arthritis Today, 1999