joint health

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organosulfur compound found naturally in primitive plants and some foods and beverages. It is also known by other names such as methyl sulfone, and dimethyl sulfone. MSM is found in small amounts in every one’s blood and distinctively in human melanoma cells.

This colourless organic compound gained popularity after the publication of the book - “The miracle of MSM- The natural solution of pain”, which was authored by Stanley W. Jacob, M.D. In this book, he ascertained that MSM is a safe, natural, side-effect-free remedy for many types of pain and inflammatory conditions.

The action of MSM is probably due to the considerable amount of sulfur present in it, as sulphur forms a vital component of the connective tissues of joints. MSM is marketed as a dietary supplement and is recommended to Osteoarthritis (OA) patients (Brien, et al).

Chondroprotective Agent, Methylsulfonylmethane, Prevents Osteoarthritis (OA)

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis that affects the middle-aged and older adults across the world. It leads to a long-term disability and degrades the quality of life. Use of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) is the primary therapeutic intervention adopted in most of the cases.

However, these drugs lead to serious gastrointestinal side effects and do not treat the root cause of the problem (Brien, et al). Methylsulfonylmethane contains sulfate moiety which helps in overcoming a dietary deficiency of sulfur amino acids (SAA; cysteine and methionine), which are the primary sources of sulfate in human body.

MSM gets rapidly converted into free sulfate before or after absorption. Sulfur deficiency leads to different types of joint complications. Being a sulfate containing chondroprotective agent, MSM helps in overcoming the deficiency of sulfur amino acids (Cordoba and Nimni).

MSM tries to lessen the arthritic symptoms like stiffness, swelling, pain, and cartilage deterioration. It also helps to combat the oxidative stress and inflammation. MSM inhibits the release of inflammatory markers, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα).

These markers act as a component of the inflammatory pathway and thus enhance the joint swelling and stiffness (Kim, Kim, Lim, et al). In 2006, a pilot clinical trial was conducted on fifty men and women who were suffering from knee OA pain. They were given 3 g of MSM twice a day and they showed a significant improvement in the symptoms of pain and physical function (Kim, Axelrod, et al.). A meta-analysis of MSM also showed similar results.

Other Medicinal Benefits of MSM

Due to its anti-oxidant properties, MSM blocks nitric oxide (NO) and prostaglandin E(2) thus preventing the damage of the cells that lead to joint pain and irritation (Kim, Kim, Lim, et al). When MSM was given to mice for 13 weeks, a significant decrease in the degeneration of cartilage at the joint surface was noticed. In 1982, Robert Herschler, a biochemist patented "Dietary and pharmaceutical uses of methylsulfonylmethane and compositions comprising it".

According to him, MSM can be used to get relief from stress, mucous-membrane inflammation, allergies and gastrointestinal conditions. Some preliminary studies suggest that MSM simulates collagen production that leads to the improvement in skin health. It prevents untimely sagging and wrinkles of the skin. It detoxifies the body and removes the toxic wastes like lactic acid and its by-products. As a result, it speeds up the recovery process of the body.

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