MSM is the abbreviation for methylsulfonylmethane, an organic form of the mineral sulfur, meaning the form in which the chemical appears in all living things. Biological sulfur has many preventive and therapeutic qualities.
Decades ago, Dr. Stanley Jacob and Dr. Robert Herschler, chemist employed by a pulp and paper company, were tasked with finding a use for lignin, one of the primary waste products produced by the paper plant. This led to the eventual discovery of DMSO (dimethylsulfoxide), a substance which seemed to enhance the healing of cuts, scrapes, burns, and sprains of the workers who came into contact with it. There was also anecdotal evidence as to its benefits in improving such conditions as asthma and osteoarthritis. In the United States, thousands of articles appeared expounding on the curative properties of DMSO, but it never really caught on, possibly because of its rather off putting bitter taste and odor. In addition, when used topically, it could cause skin irritation at the application site.
MSM, as indicated before, is a naturally occurring organic form of sulfur existing in all living organisms. While we can almost certainly obtain sufficient quantities of the substance in a healthy diet, supplementing this diet can be beneficial to a number of conditions. Many scientists believe that concentrations of MSM naturally decline in our bodies as we age, and this deficiency has been linked to such things as fatigue, depression, a high sensitivity to stress, both physical and psychological, as well as a large number of degenerative diseases. All these symptoms may be construed as the natural results of the aging process, but clinical studies, involving both animal and human subjects, have indicated that MSM, with its’ many positive therapeutic benefits, could counteract these conditions, especially when it comes to osteoarthritis and oxidative stress.
MSM has been demonstrated to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis, particularly as it involves the knee joint. While it may not greatly relieve inflammation, it does seem to improve function and relieve pain to a significant degree.
MSM is also useful as a agent against oxidative stress. While it is not, per se, an antioxidant, studies have shown that it can, indeed, help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. This type of stress occurs when there is an imbalance in the number of free radicals in our systems, and the body’s ability to neutralize them. Free radicals can wreak havoc as they interact chemically with the components of our cells, such as DNA, trying to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from individual cells. These damaged cells, themselves now destabilized, then go about the process of attempting to re-stabilize themselves by going in search of electrons in other cells. This, in turn, sets off a damaging chain reaction at a cellular level in the body. Human studies have demonstrated that MSM can help prevent such damage from occurring to muscles during exercise.
Some studies also suggest that supplementing with MSM can reduce pain and inflammation, alleviate allergic reactions, promote wound healing, and enhance performance during exercise.