Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in various green plants, species of algae, vegetables, and grains. It is also found in human and bovine (cow) adrenal glands, milk, and urine. MSM has been used to treat a variety of conditions including muscle pain, muscle cramps, and hay fever; however, it is most commonly used to treat arthritis pain.
In a recent study presented at the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, 50 patients with arthritis took either 3 grams of MSM twice daily or a placebo pill. After 12 weeks, those who took MSM had significantly less pain and improvements in physical functioning than those who took the placebo. Studies evaluating the long-term use of MSM are needed to examine the safety of its use for longer than 12 weeks. Typical MSM doses range from 1 to 3 grams daily with meals. Possible side effects may include nausea, diarrhea, headache, and pruritis (itching of the skin). MSM should not be used by people with sulfa allergies. There are no known interactions between MSM and other drugs.