MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is a compound that contains sulfur and is naturally found in humans, plants, and animals. You can also buy it in supplement form, usually in powder or capsule form. MSM is used by many people to alleviate joint pain, improve immune function, and soothe inflammation. Research shows that it can also be a helpful treatment for arthritis. How can you use MSM for arthritis? Are there any side effects, and what dosage of MSM for Arthritis should you take?
MSM for Arthritis: How Does it Work?
The anti-inflammatory properties of MSM are what really make this compound an effective solution for arthritis. Research also shows that MSM can help people with joint degeneration, which is a major cause of pain in the hips, knees, hands, and back.
In one study, people with knee osteoarthritis took 3.4 grams of MSM daily for 12 weeks. Participants experienced reduced pain and stiffness as well as improved mobility.
For arthritis, MSM is often combined with glucosamine and chondroitin. Studies have found that the addition of MSM makes glucosamine and chondroitin more effective at alleviating pain and stiffness in people with knee osteoarthritis.
In another study involving 100 people over age 50, participants who took 1,200 mg of MSM for 12 weeks saw a decrease in swelling, pain, and stiffness in the joints compared to a placebo. Those who took MSM also reported having less trouble walking and getting up out of bed.
Another smaller study found that taking a glucosamine supplement with MSM helped reduce back pain and stiffness.
Along with reducing inflammation, research shows that MSM can help prevent the breakdown of cartilage, which helps protect joints.
How Does MSM Reduce Inflammation?
The anti-inflammatory effects of MSM are well-studied. Scientists believe that the compound inhibits a certain protein complex (NF-kB) that plays an important role in your body’s inflammatory response.
It also reduces the production of some cytokines that communicate with proteins associated with inflammation.
In addition to these effects, MSM can also boost glutathione levels, which is a powerful antioxidant.
In one study on mice with stomach ulcers, inflammation was greatly reduced after taking MSM supplements because the compound increased glutathione levels and inhibited the release of cytokines linked to inflammation.
Are There Any Side Effects?
MSM is naturally found in humans, plants, and animals. The substance is also found naturally in certain goods, such as fruit and in milk. Risks and side effects are minimal, with it being “safe” when taken in doses of up to 6 grams per day over a period of six months.
Topical usage lacks studies showing side effects, but there’s evidence showing eye and skin irritation in some people. Oral studies show minimal side effects, with gastrointestinal side effects being most common. Users may experience:
If users do apply it to their skin, it’s generally safe for up to 20 days – and possibly longer. Topical MSM often includes a combination of ingredients, including tea tree oil and/or hyaluronic acid.
There is some concern about mixing MSM with alcohol, as MSM contains sulfur. Sulfur-containing medications can have adverse reactions when mixed with alcohol, so there is concern that MSM may have the same effect.
Women that are pregnant or nursing should avoid consuming MSM.
Dosage of MSM for Arthritis
MSM dosage for arthritis varies from person-to-person. A meta-analysis from 2017 found that individuals can tolerate up to 4 grams of MSM per day. Side effects reported during the study mirror what was written in the previous section with little known side effects.
Participants of the studies had mild side effects.
When using MSM specifically for arthritis, one study found that 1.5g pf MSM helped:
- Improve pain
- Reduce swelling
Participants with osteoarthritis in their knees took up to 6g of MSM for a 12-week period, with 25% of individuals noticing improvement in pain and function. Interestingly, a similar trial was conducted, but with 3.375g of MSM.
The trial lasted for 12 weeks and participants noted an improvement in function, well-being, and pain.
MSM’s lack of side effects allows people to experiment with dosing to find the exact dose that works well for them. Adhere to the instructions on the supplement you’re taking and be prepared to use MSM for at least 12 weeks to see if it’s effective in reducing inflammation and pain.
Dosage should start around 1.5g, with the option to increase dosage levels higher as needed. Users that have any adverse side effects should cease taking their supplement.
MSM is a popular natural supplement and has many health benefits, and research backs its claims of being effective at reducing inflammation and joint pain. Along with being potentially effective for arthritis, MSM can also help boost your immune function, help you recover from exercise, and even improve your skin health. MSM supplements appear to be safe and have minimal side effects, making it an attractive treatment option for arthritis sufferers.