Dimethyl Sulfone (MSM): Top 5 Benefits & Uses

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5 Benefits of Dimethyl Sulfone

Dimethyl Sulfone a.k.a methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a chemical compound which has been steadily gaining in popularity over the last few years. And logically, more supplements containing this ingredient have started to emerge onto the scene. Providing a very basic and essential nutrient that most people lack, sulfur, getting more into your diet may be something to consider.

Many people are still unaware of dimethyl sulfone’s benefits, or even existence for that matter.  This basic supplement may be up there with things like magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids, Vitamin D, and Bone Broth as an everyday wellness strategy.

In this article we will discuss Dimethyl Sulfone and its potential health benefits for the body and help you decide if it is something you need to add into your wellness stack.

What is Dimethyl Sulfone?

Dimethyl Sulfone is an organosulfur compound (or to put it simply, an organic sulfur) that comes in the form of many names like methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), DMSO2, and methyl sulfone among others.

This chemical can be found in leafy green veggies, radishes, garlic, onions, and chives. Other great sources include organic, pasture-raised eggs and raw milk products from pasture-raised cows. The problem with this is that MSM is water soluble and very volatile, meaning it degrades quickly with cooking.

Dimethyl sulfone is an oxidation product of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and provides a source of sulfur, used for the creation of two amino acids – methionine and cysteine.

In supplement form, dimethyl sulfone is an odorless, white, crystalline and water-soluble compound.

Dimethyl Sulfone MSM

Fundamental Role of Sulfur

Sulfur is an abundant and fundamental nutrient in human cells. One of the most important functions of sulfur compounds and sulfur-containing amino acids is to assist in the production of glutathione. Glutathione is the body’s most important antioxidant which regulates other antioxidants, detoxification, and helps to control inflammation. Glutathione also serves the vital role of protecting DNA from becoming damaged, a potentially major source of aging and increased cancer risk (1, 2).

Having inadequate levels of sulfur and glutathione, increase your susceptibility to chronic inflammation and genetic damage, potentially opening the doors for pretty much every other chronic disease people face today (3, 4).

Why Considering a Supplement May Be Important

High dietary sulfur levels are thought to be fairly common in some of the healthiest cultures around the world. For example, Icelanders are known for being extremely healthy, having low rates of depression, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. One potential explanation for this is the sulfur-rich volcanic ash that makes up much of the island. This sulfur content passes into drinking water, produce, and meat products.

As US farming practices have become highly industrialized and profit-centered, little has been taken into consideration having to do with the sulfur content of our soil. In fact, many fertilizers used contain high amounts of phosphates which interfere with the small amount of sulfur compounds that may be present in the soil.

Depletion of Minerals in Soil

Top 5 Benefits of Dimethyl Sulfone

Dimethyl Sulfone provides sulfur to the body, which as explained already, is a fundamentally important nutrient for cellular health and function. Researched benefits of dimethyl sulfone vary widely and include everything from anti-inflammatory to improvements in athletic performance (5).

The following are the top 5 benefits discovered so far in scientific research.

Osteoarthritis & Joint Pain

In 2006, the medical journal of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage published conclusive data concerning MSM and its supposed potency of alleviating knee pain, associated with osteoarthritis (6). This resulted in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial including 50 men and women, aged 40-76 (all of them had osteoarthritis-related knee pain).

The researchers went for a dosing protocol of 6g MSM daily (split into two doses) for a total of 12 weeks and the results were pretty self-explanatory.

Patients who took methylsulfonylmethane experienced a considerable decrease in pain, while their physical function was improved. Also, those who took MSM saw an improvement in performing their daily activities, in comparison to the placebo group.

Needless to say, the scientists concluded that dimethyl sulfone does help to decrease symptoms of pain and physical impairment. They also stated that there were no major side effects from MSM were observed during the entirety of this trial.

The good news is that this trial likely took very little into account with regards to dietary intake and by consuming the foods outlined below, these benefits may be even better.

Bone Foods

Improves Exercise Recovery

MSM is also associated with an improvement in post-exercise recovery.  There’s some interesting and relevant scientific data out there, concerning the connection between methyl sulfone and improved recovery periods following intense bouts of exercises (7).

In a 2016 study, the Journal of Sports Medicine embarked on the mission to find if MSM could be effective for dealing with post-exercise inflammation. After all, MSM’s anti-inflammatory capabilities have been previously proven.

This clinical trial included only physically active men, that received either a placebo or real methylsulfonylmethane at a dose of 3g/day, for a total of 28 days. They were taking their MSM or placebo prior to doing 100 reps of eccentric knee extensions.

And after these 28 days, the researchers came to a conclusion. Their collective data points out to the fact that MSM (as an active antioxidant) blunts tissue damage and all the resulting inflammation. By doing so, MSM actually prevents leukocyte death (8).

Leukocytes are white blood cells involved in fighting off different immune threats to the body. When strenuous exercise may lower your immune system activity by killing off leukocytes, dimethyl sulfone helps to preserve them. The best effect occurs when consumed during the workout.

Improves Leaky Gut

It has been shown the sulfur compounds in fermented vegetables such as kimchi may provide benefits for those with leaky gut by protecting and supporting the mucosal barrier in the digestive tract (9).

Supporting the mucosal barrier is absolutely vital for healing leaky gut as it acts to protect the thin and delicate lining of the digestive tract from irritants. Using dimethyl sulfone alongside nutrients that strengthen the gap junctions of the gut, such as L-glutamine, may be a perfect combo for healing leaky gut for good.

Stretching these benefits even further, MSM may be a helpful strategy in the battle against autoimmune conditions considering the common connection between gut issues and autoimmunity.

Supports Skin, Hair, and Nail Growth

Sulfur is involved in the process of collagen and keratin formation. This means that if you have wrinkled or brittle skin, hair, or nails, you may be lacking in sulfur compounds. Dimethyl sulfone can used both internally and topically for these purposes. Many people use MSM as a facial scrub with great results.

Additionally, MSM used internally and topically may help to provide relief for those who suffer from eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, acne, dandruff, and dermatitis. For added benefits, dimethyl sulfone can be mixed with a colloidal silver solution for an antimicrobial effect.

Supports Antioxidant Systems & Detoxification

Sulfur is critical for the formation of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant. Research has shown that those who consume MSM on a regular basis have significantly higher levels of the pre-oxidized form of glutathione, plasma-reduced glutathione (9).

Glutathione occurs in two forms in the body, the active form plasma-reduced glutathione (GSH) and plasma oxidized glutathione. Once glutathione becomes oxidized, it loses its antioxidant power. MSM essentially improves the life of available glutathione within your body.

This effect helps glutathione perform its job more effectively to maximize its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and detoxification benefits.

Dimethyl Sulfone Side Effects

There is very little evidence of adverse reaction to MSM when used as advised. Also, there’s no data that suggests a potential interaction between MSM and other supplements, medications, herbs or foods.

Some mild gastrointestinal adverse effects (like diarrhea) sometimes occur, especially when consumed in excess. However, this side effect usually diminishes quickly and does not reoccur.

If you are pregnant or nursing, you may want to speak with your physician before beginning on a regular Dimethyl sulfone regimen.

Top Foods

MSM can be found in a variety of foods including leafy greens, radishes, garlic, onions, and chives. Perhaps an even better source of sulfur compounds and amino acids are eggs from pasture-raised chickens as well as raw milk products from pasture-raised, 100% grass fed cows. Even some types of algae such as chlorella and spirulina can be great sources of sulfur compounds.

Keep in mind that MSM is highly water soluble and volatile. This means it will degrade rapidly when cooking. Consuming the above foods as close to raw form as possible is ideal. Also keep in mind that the sulfur levels of these foods are likely nowhere near what they used to be before industrialized farming practices, making supplementation an important consideration.

Supplementation

Dimethyl sulfone provides sulfur, a key nutrient, for a number of different processes in the body. The benefits of getting more sulfur include anti-inflammatory, boosting of the immune system, improved connective tissue strength, and more.

As with any beneficial compound, many companies are trying to capitalize on a trend by setting out their own products. The problem is that not all companies prioritize purity and often contain cheap fillers that you don’t want to be consuming. When looking for an MSM supplement always look for 100% pure MSM with third-party lab verification of purity.  I like this Pure Encapsulations MSM as well as the Ancient Minerals topical magnesium w/MSM.

Sources for this Article Include:

1. Schulz JB, Lindenau J, Seyfried J, Dichgans J. Glutathione, oxidative stress and neurodegeneration. Eur J Biochem. 2000 Aug;267(16):4904-11. PMID: 10931172
2. Mytilineou C, Kramer BC, Yabut JA. Glutathione depletion and oxidative stress. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2002 Sep;8(6):385-7. PMID: 12217624
3. Glutathione, Oxidative Stress And Aging. Link Here
4. Reid M, Jahoor F. Glutathione in disease. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2001 Jan;4(1):65-71. PMID: 11122562
5. Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3) PMID: 28300758
6. Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthr Cartil. 2006;14(3):286-94. PMID: 16309928
7. Withee ED, Tippens KM, Dehen R, Tibbitts D, Hanes D, Zwickey H. Effects of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) on exercise-induced oxidative stress, muscle damage, and pain following a half-marathon: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2017;14:24. PMID: 28736511
8. Van der merwe M, Bloomer RJ. The Influence of Methylsulfonylmethane on Inflammation-Associated Cytokine Release before and following Strenuous Exercise. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2016;2016:7498359. PMID: 27844051
9. Nakhostin-roohi B, Barmaki S, Khoshkhahesh F, Bohlooli S. Effect of chronic supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exercise in untrained healthy men. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2011;63(10):1290-4. PMID: 21899544

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