In a recent study MSM produced a significant decrease in osteoarthritis pain and improved performance of daily activities when compared to placebo. Researchers found that 6 grams of MSM taken daily reduced symptoms of pain and improved physical function during a short intervention, without adverse effects.
MSM is now becoming recognized as the form of sulfur present in the earth's sulfur cycle: Algae and plankton absorb large amounts of inorganic sulfur from seawater and convert it into organic form. As these organisms die, enzymatic processes reduce this organic sulfur into Dimethylsulfide (DMS). DMS, which is volatile and poorly soluble in water, evaporates into the atmosphere where it is oxidized by ultraviolet light into Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Because MSM is highly soluble in water it concentrates in atmospheric water vapor and is returned to earth in rain. MSM is present in fresh fruits and vegetables in amounts ranging from 1 to 4 mg/kg.
The adult body contains approximately 140 grams of sulfur, the third most abundant mineral in the body after calcium and phosphorus. The amino acids Methionine and Cysteine have long been thought to be our most important sources of dietary sulfur. However, while it has been found that MSM can be consumed in virtually unlimited quantities without toxic effects, Methionine and Cysteine can cause symptoms of toxicity when consumed in similarly large quantities. A normal level of circulating MSM in the adult body is about 0.2 mg/kg; between 4 and 11 mg of MSM are excreted in the urine daily. Low MSM levels have been linked with complaints of fatigue and depression, sensitivity to stress, and certain degenerative diseases.
Studies using MSM-containing radio-labeled sulfur have shown that, following ingestion, MSM readily releases its sulfur to form collagen and keratin. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and a major component of all connective tissue. Flexible tissues such as connective tissue and cartilage are made up of proteins with flexible sulfur bonds. In skin, collagen works with another protein, elastin, to give skin its elasticity. In cartilage, the sulfur containing proteoglycans combine with collagen to give cartilage its structure and flexibility. Several studies suggest that the concentration of MSM in the body diminishes with age. The consequences of reduced MSM / sulfur are consistent with the changes characteristic of aging: stiffening of muscles and joints, wrinkling of the skin, and decreased elasticity of lung tissues and arterial blood vessels.
Supplementation with MSM provides a highly concentrated source of this nutrient, which may help ameliorate the progression of degenerative changes. MSM may reduce chronic inflammation and the associated pain of arthritis, bursitis, and tendonitis. It may also help reduce the discomfort of tension and migraine headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and recurrent cramps. It may be helpful in relieving air born and food allergies, asthma, and other mucosal inflammatory conditions. MSM supports healthy liver function and may help reduce gastrointestinal stress, including hyperacidity, nausea, diarrhea, and constipation. MSM may help resolve chronic parasitic and fungal infections.
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