top of page


  • Writer's pictureLa La

Caution is required for fatal side effects of MSM widely known for its efficacy

MSM is known as the supplement that alleviates pain along with inflammation and beautifies the skin. However, it may cause pimples, headaches, and stomachaches. It is important to be aware of its effects to get the most out of the supplement. Below are the details of MSM we need to be aware of.

What is MSM?

MethylsulfonylMethane (MSM) Methylsulfonylmethane is also called dietary sulfur. It is a dietary supplement known to have various health benefits. MSM is a compound that occurs naturally in fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, plants, and salty milk. Also, it is abundant in green onions, garlic, eggs, onions, peppers, broccoli, and chives.

Sulfur (S) is the third most abundant mineral in the human body after Calcium (Ca) and Phosphorus (P). The human body contains approximately 140mg of sulfur equivalent to 10% of the minerals in the body. Human organs such as skin, cartilage, muscles, hair, and nails contain sulfur and most of the body’s sulfur is found in the Pericardium. Some experts even believe that sulfur prevents Heart cancer.

Our body is supplied with sulfur (S) from vitamin B7 such as amino acids or biotin, similar to how cysteine, taurine, and methionine supply it. A large amount of cysteine and biotin known for its efficacy in skin and hair care is found in high-quality protein. Women who are interested in skin care are recommended to eat high-quality meat regularly.

The discovery of MSM

MSM has been developed and commercialized by several scientists. Around 1930, Dr. Zhukov of the former Soviet Union discovered that boiled wood bark in paper factories contains a large amount of natural organic sulfur, which was the beginning of MSM usage. In 1950, Dr. Stanley W. Jacob who was studying refrigeration technology for kidney transplants discovered the inhibition of inflammatory responses and pain through DMSO (Dimethyl Sulphoxide). DMSO was very effective in reducing pain and inflammation. The New York Times even reported it extensively as the most amazing event in the medical community. Some called the discovery of DMSO as “A revolution in medical community comparable to the development of penicillin.” In 1978, DMSO was approved by the FDA for its use in interstitial cystitis and it has been widely used in 125 countries around the world to relieve symptoms such as arthritis, diabetic ulcers, and skin hardening. However, the distinctive odor such as oyster and fishy smell of people who took DMSO was the downside. In the early 1980s, Dr. Robert Herschler started researching for MSM, one of the metabolites of DMSO, to compensate for it. He found that the effect of DMSO derives from MSM that stays longer in the body. Most of MSMs are made by oxidizing DMSO even now.

A record of sulfur

Sulfur has been used in China, India, Egypt, and Greece since ancient times. According to Heo Jun's Donguibogam, sulfur has a very hot, delicious, and toxic nature that drives out cold air in the body to treat energy deficiency and controls stasis and Qi in the heart and stomach. It strengthens the backbone as well as muscles and prevents hair loss. Also, China's first pharmacology book indicates that Sulfur is known as “anti-aging and immortal drug" that defeats all diseases. According to the Emperor's Naegyeong Rumor (with the five energies of sulfur), the heart, liver and spleen, lungs, and kidney are in charge of the pulse, muscles, skin, and bones, respectively.

Types of sulfur

Yellow minerals from Sulfur hot springs or volcanoes are called organic sulfur. Organic sulfur is toxic and should not be consumed. Dietary sulfur is inorganic sulfur and most is chemically synthesized.

  • Mineral sulfur

Mineral sulfur is sulfur extracted from volcanic areas or ash where lava erupts. It is highly toxic and must not be consumed without going through tricky processing operations. The use should be limited to the following: plant cultivation after removal of toxicity, livestock feed (sulfur duck, sulfur pig), gunpowder, firecrackers, or matches, etc.

  • Animal sulfur

The gallbladder of a bear which is bear bile and that of a cow which is the main component of Cheongsimhwan as well as musk extracted from the navel of a roe deer contain a large amount of Animal sulfur.

  • Vegetable sulfur

Seaweed and plankton contain a lot of sulfur. Sulfur melts in seawater and evaporates, and as a result, it is absorbed by plants through natural circulation. Also, Korea’s popular food such as radish, cabbage, chives, mustard leaves, green onions, garlic, and ginger are rich in sulfur. Allicin in garlic which is sulfur amino acids and the main component of saponin, sulfur, is 60 times as much as wild ginseng and 36,000 times as much as ginseng.

The efficacy of MSM

  • The enhancement of immune system and anti-inflammatory effects

MSM inhibits NF-KB involved in inflammation induction and reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-∂.interleukin 6. According to study by J.Altern Competition Med.(2002), 50 allergic rhinitis patients given 2,600 mg of MSM daily had less allergic symptoms such as coughing, congestion, and itching. The research indicates that MSM helps with allergic rhinitis and itching.

  • The improvement of Cartilage joint health

Cartilage consists of type 2 collagen, chondrocytes, proteoglycan, and water. Chondrocytes produces cartilage from collagen, water, and polysaccharides. Collagen fiber and proteoglycan are required for making cartilage well. Damaged cartilage is restored and becomes more flexible as sulfur which is a component of proteoglycan helps building the network of collagen.

  • Detoxification effects

Sulfur is necessary for detoxification. It is a crucial substance of phase 2 metabolism in liver and is supplied by glutathione, acetylcysteine, and taurine. It is contained in the structure of glutathione called antioxidant. The concentration of glutathione increases just by taking MSM. MSM is effective for intestinal leakage syndrome, atopic dermatitis, and allergies by detoxifying and strengthening mucous membranes. Some people take high doses of MSM for chemotherapy.

  • Hair and Skin health

Sulfur is used for the disulfide binding of keratin protein and MSM glues the twisted structure of collagen. MSM improves hair loss, thinning hair, fragile nails, acne, skin wrinkles, dryness, itchy skin, psoriasis, dermatitis, wound healing, atopy, and damaged skin tissue.

  • Pain-suppressing effect

MSM plays a role in suppressing inflammation and pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. It not only inhibits the reaction of prostaglandin causing pain, but also inhibits the mechanism of pain transmission along the C-fiver (a nerve fiber that transmits pain or temperature). Therefore, in the United States, MSM is used for patients where the painkiller NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) or MSM doesn’t work well. It can also be helpful for patients with severe menstrual or other pain.

The side effects of MSM
  • A person with a lot of heat

  • A person with oily skin

  • A person allergic to Antifungal antibiotics

MSM may cause small pimples, skin upset, pimples, allergies, swelling like mosquito bites, face burning, heart palpitations, insomnia, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, gas chasm, headache, the disturbance of a good night's sleep, and dreams, etc. They improve naturally when you stop taking MSM, but it is recommended to receive medical treatment if the symptoms are serious.

Glutathione, alpha-liposan, and SAMe can be used instead of MSM.

How to Choose MSM
  • Check Raw material company

The companies whose dietary sulfur raw materials are internationally proven are Lignisul and OPTI MSM in the United States, and Distill Pure in Canada. OPTI MSM in the U.S. is the only raw material that received a safe GRAS rating from the U.S. FDA. The company uses distillation instead of crystallization as a means of processing the material. Distillation is effective for removing impurities, contaminants, and heavy metals during the production process. As a result, it produces raw materials of very high purity of 99.9%. However, a disadvantage is that the price is twice as much as other products. The purity of the products distributed in Korea is considered to be less than 98% since the domestic standards of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety states that raw materials with purity less than 98% cannot be used.

  • Check price per content

Each product has a different daily intake. Some products should be taken twice a day, and some should be taken once a day. Thus, it is recommended to check daily intake and price per content before purchasing the product.

Tips for taking MSM

MSM is excreted as 144 mg of urine per day and thus a recommended daily standard of dosage is 1,500-2,000 mg. For anticancer purposes, up to 8,000 mg a day is allowed, and you can take 12,000-24,000mg a day in some cases. More than 24,000mg is considered safe as well. It is highly recommended to consult with a doctor or expert because some people may have side effects.

  • Skin beauty: MSM + vitamin C + collagen

  • Allergies, inflammation, liver detox, chronic fatigue: MSM + vitamin C megadose

  • Autoimmune disease, arthritis, headache: MSM + magnesium + calcium

  • Muscle pain relief: MSM + vitamin B + coenzyme Q10

Drugs not to be taken with MSM

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen, naproxen, etc.

  • Aspirin, warfarin, dalteparin, enoxaparin, ticlopidine, etc.

  • A product extracted from herbal medicine or plants


bottom of page