Why You Want MSM

MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound. The only bio-available form of sulfur, it is a macro-mineral that is needed for healing and growth.

Originally published 2001

Methyl-Sulfonyl-Methane (MSM) is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in every plant and animal tissue. It is the only bio-available form of sulfur — a macro mineral that is used in significant amounts in the body. This article examines the requirements and benefits of MSM for health, and shows you how MSM Lotion can be used to cure Carpal Tunnel and Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSI).

Quite simply, MSM is probably the most significant discovery since Vitamin C. It’s pretty much a miracle in a pill. (Since we don’t eat raw food, fresh picked, we need to get it in a pill, just like Vitamin C.) It’s good for preventing muscle aches and sprains, general health, and a whole lot more:

  • It’s a sulfur compound isolated from food, so it’s more of a food that a supplement.
  • It is apparently the only form of sulfur the body can assimilate.
    (Why garlic is so healthy: Its high sulfur content.)
  • The compound (methyl-sulfonyl-methane, or MSM) is found in every plant and animal tissue.
  • But apparently it’s really volatile, easily destroyed by cooking, food processing, pickling, and even storage.
  • So taking an MSM “supplement” is like getting back to a healthy raw foods diet.

Why Sulfur is Important

  • It’s used in the formation of collagen — the “lattice” framework the cells fit in. Because of that, it’s required in large quantities. It’s a “macro mineral”, not a trace mineral. (Vitamin C is a “macro vitamin”, for the same reason.)
  • It creates the flexible bonds between cells, instead of the stiff cross-linked bonds.
  • That means it’s good for flexibility and prevents wrinkles.
  • I suspect that it also helps ameliorate age-induced difficulty in focusing on small print, which is essentially a stiffening of the cornea over time.
  • It’s very helpful for arthritis.
  • It produces strong, healthy nails, hair, and skin.
  • It promotes healing with flexible tissue. (Otherwise, scar tissue forms, which tears rather than stretches — the typical cause of reinjury.)
  • On the surface, wounds heal with healthy skin instead of scar tissue. Inside, muscles and tendons heal with flexible tissue instead of easily torn scar tissue.
  • Because recovery from a workout is essentially a building process, MSM users report “no soreness after workouts”.
  • How good is it? They’ve been giving it to multi-million dollar racehorses for decades to prevent sore legs and promote muscle recovery.
  • MSM is also an antioxidant, and it helps flush toxins.

That helps explain how it prevents muscle soreness, and why (along with Vitamin C and selenium) it would be good for the eyes. (The eyes see major free radical attacks from X-Rays, fluorescent lights, ultra-violet sunlight. Vitamin C combats it, but destructs in the process. Glutathione peroxidase reconstitutes vitamin C, but it requires selenium, which is deficient in most U.S. soils — hence the need for a selenium supplement.)

  • Because the toxin flushing occurs through the skin via sweat, it’s good for the liver. (Reduces strain on the liver, promotes healing.)
  • Apparently, it “paints” the insides of your stomach and intestines, in such a way that it effectively prevents food allergies.
  • Sulfur is also a major part of insulin. So MSM improves energy levels.
  • I’m not sure if it’s due to its insulin activity or to its intestinal activity, but MSM appears to have suddenly and dramatically, drastically reduced my sweet tooth. Could be that it is promoting the good intestinal flora. (Sugar promotes the bad ones.)
  • I also notice that I feel definitely, totally full at the end of a meal, now, as in not wanting to eat anything else.
  • Probably because it heals the myelin sheaths around the nerves, it promotes inner calm. (Alcohol wears away those nerve coverings which produces, quite literally, “raw nerves”, irritability, anxiety, and anger.)

On the minus side, taking MSM in a pill does seem to promote indigestion, even though the long term affect should be help prevent it! It’s sort of like exercise. It may hurt, but it makes you stronger. The thing is, if it hurts too much, it’s because you’re doing more damage than you can handle. So watch how you feel, and build up to the amount you need. (If you have problems, cut the amount in half. Keep cutting until you don’t have problems. Then build up by adding 10% a week until you’re where you want to be.)

Healing Carpal Tunnel / Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)

In the absence of Sulphur, scar tissue forms. The problem with scar tissue is that it’s not flexible. When you pull on it, it tears. So if you rest for a couple of days, you feel fine. But the minute you start you to use those muscles, the scar tissue tears and you’re in pain again.

The solution is to work on relaxing the muscles as you’re using them, and to vigorously rub in MSM lotion twice a day for a few weeks. When typing for example, I work to lighten my strokes on the keys, and I consciously relax the muscles between strokes. That minimizes strain on the muscles. But it’s the MSM lotion that is the real solution.

Vigorous rubbing breaks the adhesions in the muscle (the places where scar tissue has formed). The MSM lotion then provides the sulfur needed to rebuild with healthy, flexible tissue. Do that twice a day, and see if your RSI hasn’t cleared up entirely in 2 or 3 weeks. (It did for me. The first time I did it, it was two years before I had carpal tunnel again. After the second time, it has been four years, and counting.)

Healing (and Preventing) Backache

As detailed in Relief for Your Aching Back, MSM crystals are the cornerstone of the healing process!

More Information

MSM is available in health food stores, and it’s quite cheap. When taken internally:

  • It’s best taken 1-for-1 with Vitamin C and a phytochemical supplement.
    • Both vitamin C and MSM are used to form collagen
    • 1gm Vit C + 1gm phytochem + 1gm MSM per day for a 200lb person.
      (1.5 to 3 gms per day is the standard requirement)
  • Think that’s a lot?
    • Gorillas share our metabolism with respect to Vitamin C, and they are very expensive. Linus Pauling (the discoverer of Vitamin C) reported that veterinarians make sure gorillas get about 1.5 to 2gm for every 100 lbs of body weight every day.
  • For cartilage healing, add a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement
    • Glucosamine is the precursor for cartilage formation.
    • Chondroitin becomes part of cartilege, creating spaces that absorb water for a cushioning effect.
    • Amount: 1 gm glucosamine/chondroitin per gm of Vitamin C.

It Even Grows Hair!

The folks at Hair Loss Revolution have provided links to studies showing that MSM, in combination with other ingredients, has been found to grow hair.

Learn more: MSM for Hair Growth

I have not personally evaluated the studies they reference, and have no financial interest in the product they are promoting. But the quality of the information they provide sets them apart from other article-suggestions that have crossed my desk, so I decided to give them a link. If you or anyone you know has evaluated the studies they reference, or the product they offer, please put a not in the comments! (If needed, I will revise the article. But my spider-sense tells me that folks who need it might find this possibility worth pursuing. I don’t have a problem in that area — but whether that is the result of genetics or the MSM lotions I use, I can’t say.)

Finding A Good Source of MSM

Read the label. Be sure MSM is the first or second ingredient, and that the list of ingredients is short.

There are two keys to identifying a good MSM lotion or cream:

  1.  Make sure MSM is the second ingredient.
    The FDA requires companies to list ingredients in order, with those present in the highest amounts coming first. (Thanks, FDA!) Right after MSM became popular, several products came out that printed MSM in large, proud letters on the front, but which listed MSM back at the end of the ingredients. Those manufacturers add their MSM with an eye dropper. They’re useless.
  2. Make sure the list of ingredients is short.
    Either the FDA made those companies stop, or consumers got wise to the scam. (Probably the former. This is government at it’s best, embodying wisdom on behalf of the citizenry.) At any rate, these days it is just about impossible to find an MSM lotion or cream where MSM isn’t the second ingredient. “Progress”, I thought. Until I noticed that the lists of ingredients on most are very long. It’s like this: If you have 2 ingredients in a list, then the first ingredient is guaranteed to be at least 50% of the product. But if you have 100 ingredients in a list, then the first only has to be two percent to be listed first. (The same rule applies when MSM is the second ingredient, since the first ingredient is invariably water. But if you can find one where Aloe is the first ingredient, that’s even better.)

Here is one brand of MSM Lotion I can recommend, when you can find it. Water, MSM, and Aloe Vera are the only ingredients!

MSMPure Skin and Facial MSM Gel


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Here are some references from the Web:

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  1. Amy hazelrigg Author September 16, 2019 (11:15 pm)

    I thought the major age-related eyesight issue was farsightedness. You say it’s nearsightedness. I do think you’re mistaken.

    Reply to Amy hazelrigg Report comment
    • Eric Armstrong Author September 17, 2019 (7:48 am)

      Hmm. I believe you’re right. As we get older, the cornea tends to stiffen, due to oxidation and a less-than-perfect diet.

      Unless exercised regularly, flexibility is lost, making it harder to contract the cornea in order focus on small things like the fine print. I’m calling it “nearsighted”, but that’s probably the wrong term. On the other hand, calling it “farsighted” isn’t exactly right, either–because the ability to expand the cornea is equally impaired. It might feel like being farsighted, but that’s only because we’re rarely trying to see things that are far away, and are unaware of the deterioration of vision. I’ll revise the article to include the longer explanation, and remove the term.

      BTW: My new Bench Yoga program includes eye muscle exercises! Combined with a good diet, those exercises keep the cornea in tip-top condition! :__)

      Reply to Eric Armstrong Report comment
  2. Nicole C. Scott Author June 26, 2017 (5:13 pm)

    If you add fresh ripe tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, and cut the corn kernels off the cob and add to your salad, you are going to get lots of MSM in your diet naturally. It also is found in fruits such as apples and raspberries, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, so supplementation is less necessary if you eat foods like this regularly.

    Reply to Nicole C. Scott Report comment

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