MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is an organic sulfur compound that occurs in humans, animals, and plants. It can be found in small amounts in milk, seafood, meat, vegetables, fruits, coffee, tea, and chocolate. All sorts of health claims have been made regarding MSM’s ability to treat various health conditions, but, to be quite frank, few of them have been substantiated by credible scientific research.
Some researchers have suggested that many Americans are deficient in sulfur, but this is likely a bare assertion; evidence suggests that Americans ingest ample quantities of sulfur from their diets. It is rare to see a stand-alone MSM supplement; it is generally used in conjunction with other potentially efficacious substances, like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate.
MSM is used for an array of health conditions, including joint inflammation, musculoskeletal pain, muscle cramps, scleroderma, scar tissue, stretch marks, hair loss, wrinkles, wounds, cuts, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, HIV/AIDS, constipation, migraine, pneumonia, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and, notable, osteoarthritis.
Though scientists are unsure if MSM provides any legitimate health benefits, some research seems to indicate that that possibility still exists. A few randomized, placebo-controlled trials suggest that MSM may be effective at reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis. However, these findings are preliminary, and a definitive trial on this apparent effect has yet to be conducted. There is a notable lack of clinical evidence supporting any of MSM’s other uses.