The MSM Miracle
WHAT IS MSM?
MSM is an abbreviation of methylsulphonylmethane, an organic form of sulphur. The chemical formula of MSM is CH3SO2CH3. It is the form in which sulphur appears in nature in all living organisms, and in which it is biologically active. MSM is an odourless, white, crystalline powder that is highly soluble in hot water and in a wide range of organic solvents.1 Biologically active sulphur has unbelievable preventive and therapeutic properties. The medicinal activities of biological sulphur are so all-encompassing, and are based on such obvious principles, that its discovery is generally considered one of the biggest advances in orthomolecular medicine in the second half of this century.
THE DISCOVERY OF MSM
About forty years ago, Dr. Stanley Jacob and Dr. Robert Herschler, chemists with the pulp and paper plant Crown Zellerbach Corporation, were asked to find a use for lignin, one of the primary waste products of the plant. Oxidation of lignin in a reactor was shown to result in the formation of DMSO (Dimethylsulphoxide), a natural, organic form of sulphur. This water soluble compound has a strong and bitter taste, and is absorbed rapidly through the skin. Workers coming in contact with the DMSO-containing wastewater, noticed their perspiration began smelling like DMSO, and they tasted its bitterness in their mouths. Moreover, the water appeared to have special medicinal qualities. Many stories about miraculous recoveries and benefits still go around, but they can not be authenticated. It is certain, however, that cuts, scrapes, burns and sprains recovered more quickly when dipped in this water. Several workers also noticed that conditions caused by arthritis and asthma improved when they came in contact with the DMSO-containing water (George Bergstrom, personal information).
Following its original discovery, several thousand articles and publications have appeared in the United States discussing the medicinal properties of DMSO. Because of its bitter taste and penetrating odour, DMSO never became very popular with the general public. Another problem with DMSO was that it sometimes caused skin irritation when applied topically. For these reasons researchers began looking for a more user-friendly derivative of DMSO. Oxidation of DMSO was found to produce MSM, a much more stable, organic sulphur compound with medicinal properties at least equal to DMSO, but without the odour and skin irritation complications.4, 8, 9
NATURAL SOURCES OF MSM
MSM is the natural form in which sulphur is found in the earth's sulphur cycle.3 Algae and several forms of plankton in the oceans are capable of absorbing massive amounts of inorganic sulphur from seawater, and convert this into a simple, organically-bound form. When these algae and planktonic organisms die, enzymatic processes result in the breakdown of the organic molecules into DMS, or Dimethylsulphide. This compound is volatile and poorly soluble in water. It collects in the stratosphere, where it is oxidized under the influence of ultraviolet light into DMSO (Dimethylsulphoxide), and further converted into MSM (Methylsulphonylmethane). DMSO and MSM are highly soluble in water, and therefore concentrate easily in atmospheric water vapor, returning to earth in the form of rain. Plant roots rapidly collect and concentrate these sulphur sources. Laboratory research has shown, that a one ppm mixture of radioactive labeled DMSO and MSM, can concentrate one hundred fold in plant roots within hours.4
Rainwater in particular therefore contains a lot of MSM. It is also abundantly found in fresh fruit and vegetables in amounts generally ranging from 1 to 4 mg/kg.3 Raw milk from cows which graze in pastures contains 2 to 5 mg/kg MSM. Due to the volatile nature of MSM, it is rapidly lost due to heating during the preparation of food. It is also lost when vegetables and fruit are left for a period of time, heated or not. Pasteurized milk therefore contains less than 0.25 mg/kg MSM, roughly the same amount as found in milk from cows fed dried, artificial food.3 Due to our present day's dietary patterns, it is unavoidable that modern man suffers from a chronic shortage of MSM.
MSM AND HUMAN HEALTH
The natural level of MSM in the circulatory system of an adult human male is about 0.2mg/kg. Normal adults excrete 4 to 11mg MSM per day in their urine. Several studies suggest that the systemic concentration of MSM drops in mammals with increasing age, possibly as a result of changing diet or body metabolism. Some research suggests that there is a minimum concentration of MSM that must be maintained in the body to preserve the normal function and structure.8, 9 Low concentrations of MSM in our bodies have been linked with unspecified complaints of fatigue, depression, high sensitivity to physical and psychological stress, and with a large number of degenerative diseases.5, 6 MSM is an important source of sulphur, but also has unique properties related to its chemical structure and biological activities. To understand the preventive and therapeutic properties of MSM, a distinction needs to be made between "why humans need sulphur" vs. "why humans need MSM".
WHY DOES THE HUMAN BODY NEED SULPHUR?
Following calcium and phosphorus, sulphur is the third most abundant mineral in the body. A grown person contains approximately 140 grams of sulphur.6 Nearly half of all sulphur is contained in muscular tissue, skin and bones.5
When plants absorb MSM from rain water, they convert it into the sulphur containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. Taurine and cystine, the other two known sulphur amino acids, are synthesised from cysteine. The body manufactures about 80% of the amino acids it needs, and these are classified as nonessential. The remaining 20%, called essential amino acids, must be obtained from food. Methionine and cysteine are considered two of them. There are approximately 28 known amino acids. Each type of protein is made up of a unique collection of amino acids in a specific combination. Two molecules of cysteine can oxidise and bond together through sulphur (-S-S-) bonds.5 These sulphur bonds are the key factors that hold proteins in shape and determine the form, properties and biological activity of proteins.
Nails and hair primarily consist of a tough protein with a high sulphur content, called keratin. Flexible tissues like connective tissue and cartilage, contain proteins with flexible sulphur bonds. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, and a major component of all connective tissue. In skin, collagen works with fibres of another protein called elastin, to give skin its elasticity. In cartilage, the sulphur containing proteoglycans, glucosamine and chondroitin, form with collagen a fibrous protein substance that gives cartilage its structure and flexibility.5, 6
The importance of the connective tissue for the body goes beyond simply keeping cells together. The first biophysical regulatory model was developed by Prof. Dr. Pischinger which he termed the "Vegetative Building Structure." This theory was further developed by Prof. Dr. Heine who described proteoglycans and glycosamines, and by Dr. Popp, a biophysicist, who showed the importance of electromagnetic fields in bio-information. Their research has demonstrated that the soft, connective tissue, the extracellular matrix which surrounds cells, serves more purposes than structural and connective. It also is important in the transport of nutrients, electrolytes, signal compounds and atomic and subatomic particles. Thus, the soft connective tissue forms an essential communication network within the body through the transfer of fine matter bio-information.13 - 16
As many people notice later in life, the flexible tissues lose their elastic properties. A shortage of sulphur is the likely cause of this problem. The consequences are stiffening of muscles and joints, rippling of the skin, and decreased elasticity of lung tissues and arterial blood vessels. Without a doubt, the transfer of bio-information through soft connective tissue deceases also, and the occurrences of diseases at advanced age may well be caused by a decrease in communication between cells and body tissues.
Cell Membrane Permeability
All cells (and all organelles within cells) are surrounded by membranes. A membrane consists of two layers of molecules situated opposite one another and consisting of an essential fatty acid on one end, and a sulphur containing amino acid on the other end. The amino acids are interconnected in such a manner that they form a surface into which the proteins and other membrane constituents are inserted and secured. These proteins are necessary for the transport through the cell membrane of many types of nutrients and waste materials.
Sulphur bridges form flexible connections between the cells and the surrounding connective tissues. This allows the cells to retain their elasticity. When sulphur is in short supply, the cell wall hardens, and the cells lose their elasticity. The transport proteins of the membrane become locked, and the membranes become less permeable. This results in a reduced transport of oxygen and nutrients into, and excretion of waste products from, the cells. This causes a shortage of oxygen and nutrients, and an accumulation of toxic metabolic waste products inside the cells. Reduced vitality and eventually degenerative diseases are the result.
Recent insight in free radical pathology has shown that the thiol (-SH) groups of sulphur containing amino acids can protect cell membrane protein chains from oxidation. But that is not all. Studies by Dr. Johanna Budwig have demonstrated that sulphur containing amino acids in cell membranes resonate with the double connections of the fatty acids, resulting in the release of electrons. Electron clouds are formed, which can move along the fatty acid chains. In this manner, electrical currents evolve which form the basis of all electrical energy in the body. This energy can be measured in heartbeat, nerve stimulations, muscle contractions, in short, in all chemical and electrical reactions which make life possible.
Enzymes are proteins which control all-important life functions. For example, they regulated all metabolic processes in our bodies. Sulphur bridges are responsible for the spatial structure of enzymes. Without sulphur bridges, enzymes would lack biological activity due to deviations in their spatial structure. Shortages in sulphur cause reduced production of biologically active enzymes, which result in a reduction of many metabolic processes. Sulphur is important for the cellular energy production in which glucose is metabolised under the release of energy.
Most important, sulphur plays a role in the electron transport system, as part of iron/sulphur proteins in mitochondria, the energy factories of the cell. Furthermore, sulphur participates in the vitamin-B Thiamine (B1) en Biotin. These vitamins are essential for converting carbohydrates into energy, by burning glucose. Insulin is a hormone excreted by the pancreas which mainly functions to regulate the blood sugar level. Insulin therefore plays an important role in the carbohydrate metabolism. Each insulin molecule consists of two amino acid chains, connected to one another by sulphur bridges (Figure 4). These sulphur bridges are very important for the proper functioning of insulin. Without these bridges, the hormone loses its biological activity.
WHY DOES THE HUMAN BODY NEED MSM?
Preferred Dietary Source of Sulphur
It is generally believed that in humans, the sulphur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine are the most important sources of sulphur. However, since the discovery of the earth's sulphur cycle, this theory is increasingly brought into question.3 Several hundred million years ago, algae in the oceans started producing simple organic sulphur compounds, which led to the formation of MSM. This biologically active sulphur was probably the most important source of sulphur for all subsequently developing life forms. This gives food for thought that the higher forms of life most likely are genetically preprogrammed to use MSM as source of sulphur. This theory is further enhanced by the discovery that MSM can be ingested by all organisms investigated so far in almost unlimited quantities without causing any toxic effects. The same cannot be said about the sulphur containing amino acids methionine en cysteine, which can be consumed in small quantities, but at larger doses cause undesired toxic symptoms.3
Experiments using MSM containing radio-labeled sulphur (35S) have shown, that following ingestion, MSM releases its sulphur to form collagen and keratin, basic ingredients of hair and nails, as well as the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, and serum proteins.8, 11 It appears abundantly clear that the importance of MSM as a source of sulphur has been grossly underestimated. The reason for this underestimation is most easily explained by the way food is processed in our western society, which causes the loss of the majority of the naturally present MSM. It is therefore for good reason that MSM is referred to as "The Forgotten Nutrient".6
Protection of the Mucosa
Additional experiments with MSM containing radio-labeled sulphur demonstrated that after ingestion, MSM is bound to the mucosa. Apparently, MSM is binding to receptor sites at the mucous membrane surface in the intestinal and urogenital tracts and the respiratory system. By doing so, it presents a blocking interface between host and environment.4 There are many health-benefiting implications to such natural interactions. Allergens and parasites cannot bind to the mucosa, toxins are oxidised and free radicals are eliminated.
WHAT CAN MSM DO FOR YOU?
Deficiencies in biological sulphur can result in less optimal functioning of each cell, tissue and organ in the body. Inorganic sulphur is poorly assimilated. Organic, biologically active sulphur is therefore extremely important for the health of every living organism. MSM is the natural source of biological sulphur. Use of MSM has the following benefits:
Perhaps the most remarkable discovery regarding MSM is that MSM is an effective pain killer which works with many types of chronic pain. In March 1999 a remarkable book was published: "The Miracle of MSM: The Natural Solution for Pain". This book is based on the experience of two medical doctors who have worked with MSM. The authors are: Stanley W. Jacob, M.D., Head of the DMSO Pain Clinic in Portland, OR, and Professor at the Oregon Health Sciences University; and Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D., Founder of the International Association for the Study of Pain, and the American Association for the Study of Headaches. Both doctors discuss their extensive experience with MSM in this book. Combined, they have over 20 years of experience with fighting pain with MSM. They conclude that of more than 18,000 patients that suffer from chronic pain, about 70% have experienced benefits from the use of MSM, i.e., the pain either diminished or disappeared altogether.
The types of pain which have been treated successfully with MSM include:
- Personal injury due to accidents, burns, etc.;
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis;
- Lower back pains;
- Headaches, migraines;
- Muscle aches;
- Tennis elbows and other local sports injuries;
- Carpal Syndrome;
- RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury);
- Scars due to burns, operations, accidents, etc.
The way MSM impacts pain is currently explained by the following mechanisms:
- MSM is a natural analgesic—it blocks the transfer of pain impulses through nerve fibres (C-fibres).
- MSM blocks inflammations and inflammatory processes. MSM enhances the activity of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory hormone produced by the body.
- MSM improves the permeability of cell membranes. This improves the uptake of nutrients and many vitamins and the elimination of waste products and excess cellular fluids.
- MSM dilates blood vessels, enhancing the blood circulation. This, too, helps to eliminate waste products from the body, which speeds up healing.
- MSM is a muscle relaxant. This is an important and often overlooked benefit of MSM. Many chronic pains are aggravated by chronic muscle tension in the body.
- MSM aids the natural defence mechanisms in the body by regulating the prostaglandin metabolism, and regulates the formation of antibodies and immune complexes.
- MSM slows down and restores cross-linking in collagen. Cross-linking in collagen is a natural process in scar formation, causing hard and often painful scar tissues. Particularly in the case of burn scars, in which large surface areas may be affected, this may lead to chronic pain.
- MSM heals scar tissue which makes the skin more flexible. Dramatic examples are known of people who have treated burn scars with a MSM ointment and have seen their scars almost disappear and have eliminated associated pains.
MSM is considered a potentiator of most vitamins and other nutrients, such as vitamin C, Co-enzyme Q10, all B- vitamins, vitamin A, D and E, amino acids, selenium, calcium, magnesium and many others. MSM improves the cellular uptake of these nutrients, and prolongs their lives.5, 6, 8 The body can better utilise the nutrients, and taking dietary supplements is more efficient. Additionally, fewer dietary supplements need to be taken.
MSM is a strong antioxidant, capable of binding and inactivating free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules and atoms with unpaired electrons, which, by force of nature, attract electrons from their surrounding environment. Free radicals are not all harmful. Actually, life without free radicals is impossible. They are needed for cellular energy production. The liver produces free radicals during the breakdown of harmful substances. And the body's immune system uses free radicals to kill viruses and bacteria. The body houses antioxidants which bind and deactivate free radicals. The normal productions of free radicals in a healthy human therefore are harmless. However, the overproduction of free radicals can be very harmful. They can begin a chain reaction which eventually can cause great harm to cell membranes and chromosomes. Overproduction of free radicals is caused by physical and mental stress, malnutrition, air pollution, heavy metals and organic contaminants in drinking water and food, radiation and cigarette smoke. In such cases the body needs extra antioxidants from our food. MSM is such an antioxidant.
As a major sulphur donor, MSM is essential for the proper functioning of the body's anti-oxidation system. When neutralising free radicals, the body uses a variety of antioxidant enzymes that contain sulphur amino acids, and derive their structure and biological activity from sulphur bonds (S-S). Besides, MSM provides the sulphur for the amino sulphur acids methionine, cysteine and taurine, that are considered powerful antioxidants. When split off, the thiol (-SH) groups of these amino acids are capable of neutralising free radicals.17 Sulphur is also necessary for the formation of what is considered the most powerful nutritional antioxidant, glutathione.5 And as stated before, MSM potentiates the effect of well known nutritional antioxidants as the vitamins C and E, co-enzyme Q10, selenium etc.5, 7 MSM itself also appears to act as an antioxidant.7 The mucosa contains a carbon-sulphur bond cleaving enzyme, termed C-S lyase. Studies suggest that when bound to the mucosa, cleavage of MSM provides an electron deficient group CH3SO2which can neutralise free radicals.4
MSM is known to dissolve in many organic and inorganic compounds.1 Bound to the mucosa and split into an electron deficient group CH3SO2 , MSM reacts with toxins, affects inactivation and speeds excretion.4 Furthermore, MSM enhances the permeability of cell membranes, making it easier for nutrients to be taken up by the cells, and waste products to be eliminated. Practically speaking, MSM drastically increases the ability of cells to excrete toxic waste products. Many health practitioners working with MSM will state, that it is the most powerful detoxifying nutraceutical or pharmaceutical agent they have ever worked with.
A recent example shows the dramatic detoxification action of MSM. A young artist sought help in a psychiatric institution for severe mental complaints. Anti-depressives worsened his complaints to such degree that he decided to look for alternative care. Microscopic examination of his blood using the Life Blood / HLB test showed undeniably that the man suffered from several heavy metal and solvent poisoning caused by the paints which he used in his art work. This person subsequently sought the help of various traditional and alternative medical professionals who prescribed various pharmaceutical drugs, homeopathic and orthomolecular detoxifier as well as bioresonance therapy. After one and one half years of detoxification the blood picture had somewhat improved, but he still exhibited severe toxicity symptoms (Figure A).
One and one half years later, his blood had improved somewhat but his basic complaints had remained unchanged. On the advice of the author, this man stopped taking the medications received so far, and was put on high dosages of MSM (15 grams/day), supported by weekly Ayurvedic sweat baths to stimulated waste discharge. Two months later a microscopic examination showed that his blood had returned to normal (Figure B), and he indicated that, for the first time since seeking treatment, he had noticed a significant improvement in his condition.
The brain is extremely sensitive to the effects of toxic materials such as heavy metals and organic compounds. Many of these compounds tend to accumulate in nerve cells where they can cause severe oxidative damage. Neurological disturbances such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, may be the result. MSM is one of the few antioxidants which can easily pass the blood-brain barrier. It prevents and repairs oxidative damage and restores cell membrane elasticity and permeability. This allows the nerve cells to start excreting waste products.
The powerful action of MSM is illustrated in the following example. An older woman suffered from poisoning caused by exposure to aluminium. This heavy metal had accumulated in her brains and caused severe neurological damage. The woman had been confined to her bed for six years, unable to communicate with her surroundings. All this time she had not spoken a word. Medical doctors could no longer help her and had given up on her. She was completely dependent on her husband who took complete care of her needs. A natural health care practitioner advised two teaspoons of MSM (about 15 grams) daily. The MSM passed the blood brain barrier, and restored the permeability of the brain cell membranes, following which her brain cells were allowed to purge the heavy metal poisons. Two weeks later, the orthomolecular physician prescribed a warm bath to her in which special substances had been added to help her eliminate the released poisons through the skin. After twenty minutes in this bath, the woman suddenly smiled and said "Gee, I feel much better now." These were the first words she had spoken in years. Several months later, the woman was capable of leading a normal life again.7
MSM alleviates the symptoms of a large number of allergies including food allergies, contact allergies, inhalation allergies, etc. The major anti-allergic property of MSM is probably caused by its ability to bind to the mucosa and present a natural blocking interface between hosts and allergens. Besides, MSM alleviates allergies through detoxification and elimination of free radicals, and improvement of cell permeability. A direct correlation between concentration of MSM used and resistance to allergens has been established. Several authors have noted that MSM works as a histamine inhibitor at least as well as the traditional antihistamines, without the negative side effects.5, 6, 7
MSM very effectively fights inflammations resulting from autoimmune reactions (in which the body's immune system turns against itself). For example, people who suffer from arthritis often benefit greatly from MSM. Several studies have shown that supplementation of MSM significantly reduced joint degeneration and inflammation. In one study, 24 people with symptomatic osteoarthritis were treated with either a regular (NSAID) drug, or with 3 grams of MSM daily. After one month both groups noted equal improvements in pain and stiffness.6 In another experiment, a special strain of mice was studied that is prone to the spontaneous development of rheumatoid arthritis-like joint lesions.
Researchers have found that two-month old mice who were given water containing a 3% solution of MSM for a period of three months suffered no degeneration of articular cartilage. In the control group of mice receiving only tap water, 50% of the animals were found to have focal degeneration of articular cartilage. Nearly all (95%) control animals had inflammatory reaction in the synovial tissues, compared to less severe inflammatory reaction in 50% of the MSM group.8, 10 The beneficial effect of MSM is due in part to its ability to improve cell permeability, allowing harmful substances (lactic acid, toxins) to flow out while permitting nutrients to flow in, thereby preventing a pressure build up in cells that causes inflammation in the joints.5
Mice prone to the development of Autoimmune Lymphoproliferative Disease (ALD) were fed a diet that included a 3% solution of MSM as drinking water from the age of one month. The mean life span of the control group was 5.5 months, whereas the mean life span of the MSM group was extended to more than 10 months of age. The MSM group showed decreased anti-nuclear antibody responses and significant diminution of lymphadenopathy, splenomegaly and anaemia development, thus suggesting that MSM provided significant protection against the development of the autoimmune disease ALD.12 Other experiments were conducted on mice bred for their propensity to acquire the autoimmune disease Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
These experiments showed MSM to have a protective effect both before and after the onset of the disease. Mice which are maintained on a diet including 3% MSM in their drinking water from age one month, suffered lower death rates and liver damage than control groups drinking only tap water. After seven months 30% of the control group had died, while all the MSM mice were still alive. Also, when mice seven months old and already showing signs of advanced lupus were fed the MSM diet, 62% of the animals were still alive after nine months compared to 14% for the control group that received only tap water.8
Several experiments have shown that oral administration of MSM can protect rats against the onset of cancer. In one study rats, specially bred to be susceptible to breast cancer when given certain carcinogenic compounds, were fed a diet containing MSM for a period of eight days. The control group did not receive MSM. Following this preliminary period all rats were given oral doses of cancer-causing agents. There was no statistical difference in the number of tumours developing in the two groups. However, the MSM diet rats developed their first tumours some 100 days later than the control rats, and these tumours became cancerous some 130 days later than those in the control group. Considering a two-year average life expectancy of rats, 100 days are the equivalent of about ten years in human life.8
In another research, rats received MSM as 1% solution in their drinking water throughout the time of the experiment. The control group received only tap water. One week after the start of the dietary regimen, all rats were injected with dimethylhydrazine, a chemical that induces colon cancer. Over the nine months that the experiment was conducted, the number of bowel tumours occurring in the rats was statistically the same for the two groups. However, the time of appearance of the first bowel tumours was considerably longer in the MSM treated rats. The researchers concluded that MSM significantly lengthens the time of tumour onset compared to the controls.8
One of the most amazing discoveries on MSM is its anti-parasitic action against Giardia, Trichomonas, roundworms, nematodes, Enterobius and other intestinal worms.5 Animal studies include laboratory mice, determined to have pin worms (Enterobius) by fecal cast examination. They were given commercial food and drinking water, both containing 2% MSM by weight. After 17 days, faecal examination indicated the faeces were free of worms and eggs. The blood level of MSM in one animal examined exceeded 30 ppm or mg/kg.3 Human studies include a man with confirmed Giardia lamblia, apparently contacted from contaminated water in a primitive area. He was given 500 mg MSM three times a day for 14 days. By the eighth day he was free of symptoms, and two stool specimens collected one week later were free of the organism.3 In another study, Trichomonas vaginalis was successfully treated by oral dosage of 1 gram MSM a day, and a daily topical application of 5% aqueous MSM for one week.3
The major anti-parasitic property of MSM is probably caused by its ability to bind to the mucosa and present a natural blocking interface between hosts and parasites. It is as though MSM puts down a coating on the mucosa, which parasites find impenetrable and cannot cling to. Unable to stick, the parasites are simply flushed out of the body.5, 9 In vitro research has shown the anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial action of MSM concentrations. MSM concentrations of 1 mg/mL and less demonstrated no significant inhibition of Giardia lamblia. However, at 20 mg/mL concentrations it was strongly inhibitory, and concentrations above 40 mg/mL promptly killed the organism. According to Dr. Herschler, one can safely administer up to 1-2 gram MSM per kg body weight on a daily basis. One therefore builds a safely tolerated blood level up to 4000 ppm (mg/kg), which level is highly toxic to many infective organisms yet is harmless to the host.3
A growing number of natural physicians are expressing concerns about parasites. It is becoming increasingly clear that they can be a continuous source of poisoning which can spread throughout the body and affect the immune system. It is an intriguing thought that MSM may be nature's original means of protecting us against parasites.
The sulphur-containing B vitamin biotin is a critical part of glucokinase, the enzyme involved in the utilisation of the sugar glucose. Sulphur is also a component of insulin, the protein hormone secreted by the pancreas that is essential to carbohydrate metabolism. Lack of nutritional sulphur in the diet can result in low production of biological active insulin. Studies indicate, that MSM improves cellular glucose uptake by improving cell permeability, thus balancing blood sugar level and returning the pancreas to normal functioning.5
Muscle Soreness and Cramps
Especially in combination with vitamin C, MSM has demonstrated remarkable ability to reduce or eliminate the incidence of muscle soreness, leg and back cramps. MSM is particularly successful with geriatric patients who have such cramps during the night or after long periods of inactivity. Many people with stiff muscles and joints have reported a marked improvement after using MSM for some time. Several cases have been reported of people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, who have been cured by using MSM. An elderly woman was slated to have an operation performed on both wrists. On the advice of the author she started using MSM. A month later her symptoms had all but disappeared, and the operation was no longer necessary.
Athletes who compete vigorously can learn from trainers of million-dollar racehorses. For many years and with great success, trainers administer MSM to their prize horses before a race to prevent muscle soreness, and afterwards to lessen the risk of cramping and improve physical recovery.4 The physical fatigue syndrome following intense athletic activity in competitive sports, which usually persist for 8-10 days in athletes, was gone in 2-3 days in individuals who had ingested 1-2 gram MSM per day for the preceding six months.3
Constipation and Stomach Acidity
One study reveals that at least 75% of individuals taking one or more antacids or H2 histamine receptor antagonists against stomach acidity, were able to sharply reduce or eliminate such medication within a week of initiating MSM as a dietary supplement. In another study, twenty-one subjects with a history of constipation were given 500 mg daily doses of MSM together with 1 gram of ascorbic acid. All subjects with abnormal colon function returned to normal and remained normal while MSM was part of their diet (5). These studies point out, that MSM often gives more relief from stomach acidity and constipation, than commonly prescribed medication. Many people have experienced, that one of the most exciting and rewarding benefits for those who begin taking MSM, has been the prompt and continuing relief from stomach acidity and constipation problems.7
MSM allows the body to more effectively take up oxygen. In the first place, it improves the elasticity of the lung cells and the permeability of long cell membranes, allowing more air to be breathed and oxygen to pass through the membranes into the blood stream. Secondly, MSM prevents and corrects the clotting of red blood cells, allowing the blood to absorb more oxygen. Moreover, by improving the cell membrane permeability, cells throughout the body can take up more oxygen from the blood, and hence produce more energy. People suffering from lung dysfunctions may benefit greatly from treatment with MSM. In one study, seven human subjects with respiratory deficiency were given MSM in amounts ranging from 250 - 1.500 mg/day. Five had emphysema, and two had lung tumours with additional function impairment due to pleural fluid accumulation. Both were on radiation chemotherapy prior to including MSM in their diet, but without apparent benefit. Before and during the test period, the five subjects with emphysema were required to walk a measured distance compatible with their physical capabilities. Within four weeks of beginning the ingestion of MSM, all emphysema sufferers had at least doubled their 'comfortable' walking distance. The two subjects with lung tumours were assessed by attending physicians and nurses as more alert and with a better attitude than before the test. Most strikingly however, the lung fluid had disappeared during the first months of the test period.3
Many people using MSM have reported to feel better and stronger, with increased endurance. During a test with 14 persons using MSM for periods from seven months to over one year, none of them became ill.3 One stress study involved two groups of 25 goldfish, which were removed from a large aquarium and placed in two identical, small aquariums. One group was fed ordinary goldfish food, and the other group received the same food with 2% by weight of MSM added. Movement confinement, temperature changes and marginal oxygenation stressed the fish in both aquariums equally. After five days, only one fish of the MSM group had died, against 11 (almost 50%) of the control group.3
It is common practice in intensive cattle breeding to add antibiotics to animal feed to promote growth and prevent the outbreak of stress-related diseases. Animal products such as meat, milk and eggs contain residues of antibiotics, which are readily consumed. The abundant usage of antibiotics is largely responsible for the creation of resistant bacteria strains. Well known examples are the "hospital bacterium" MRSA (meticillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and the VRE's (vancomycin-resistant enterococci). Today, increasing resistance of bacteria is considered one of the major threats of human health. It is an intriguing thought that adding MSM to animal feed might reduce stress and improve animal health to a level where the usage of antibiotics can be strongly reduced.
Sulphur is called nature's "beauty mineral," because it keeps the skin smooth and youthful, and the hair glossy. Sulphur is necessary for production of collagen and keratin, protein necessary for health and maintenance of skin, nails and hair.6 Several experiments have shown, that all kinds of dermatological disorders which are often allergy-related, respond favourably to a diet supplemented by MSM. Oral dosages of MSM have shown to be effective against acne, Rosaceae and dry, scaly or itching skin.3 When used topically in the form of an ointment or lotion, MSM is helpful in treating skin disorders including acne, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, dandruff, scabies, diaper rash and certain fungal infections.1, 6 Scars resulting from operations and from burns also respond well to topical application. New scars can heal so perfectly, that they are almost invisible. Old scars, too, can improve markedly.
FOR WHOM IS MSM INTENDED?
MSM is intended for everyone who appreciates good health and intends to keep this as long as possible. Sport enthusiasts and athletes can use it to improve their performance and speed up recovery. People with degenerative diseases can use it to drastically improve their health.
MSM is no cure-all solving each and every health problem. It is a food supplement which people in ancient times probably received in sufficient degree. In our present time, this is demonstrably not the case. MSM assists the body to better cure itself and maintain its vitality. MSM cannot do this by itself. The basis for good health is maintaining healthy living conditions, in which one feels happy and takes good care of one's health. Such living conditions include:
- Healthy food which, at a minimum, includes MSM, vitamin C and trace minerals and elements, as these are food ingredients which nearly everyone obtains insufficiently;
- Loving relationships;
- Sufficient sleep;
- Sufficient sunlight and fresh air;
- Periodic meditation or prayer;
- Attainable life goals which fit one's essence.
DOSAGES AND USAGE
The optimal dosage depends on the nature and intensity of the complaints. In most cases, it is sufficient to take an initial dose of three 1 gram tablets twice daily (children ten and under take a tablet twice daily, older than ten, take two tablets twice daily). After several months this dosage can be reduced to two tablets twice daily. People with serious ailments have been shown to benefit from higher dosages, up to four 1 gram tablets three times daily. Such a high dosage may be advised to fight parasital infections. Case studies have been reported in which patients did not show noticeable improvement until they received a daily dosage of 30 grams.6 Such extreme dosage is not generally recommended for most people, although no negative effects were reported.3, 6
It is recommended to gradually increase the dosage from two tablets twice daily, and not to increase the dose as long as detoxification symptoms persist. Although uncommon, these symptoms may include nausea and headaches (see below). MSM is best taken with a glass of water one half hour prior to taking a meal. As it tends to stimulate one's energy level, it is generally advisable not to take it prior to retiring for the night.
HOW SAFE IS MSM?
MSM is considered to be one of the least toxic substances in biology, similar in toxicity to water. When MSM was administered to human volunteers, no toxic effects were observed at intake levels of 1 gram per kg of body weight per day for 30 days. Intravenous injections of 0.5 grams per kg body weight daily for five days a week produced no measurable toxicity in human subjects. The lethal dose (LD50) of MSM for mice is more than 20 g/kg body weight. MSM has been widely tested as a food ingredient without any reports of allergic reactions. An unpublished Oregon Health Sciences University study of the long-term toxicity of MSM over a period of six months, showed no toxic effects. More than 12,000 patients were treated with MSM at levels above two grams daily, without toxicity.8
In practice, most people who use MSM notice very little at the onset, or may experience slight detoxification symptoms. These symptoms may include mild forms of diarrhea, skin rash, headache and fatigue. After one week, these symptoms usually disappear. Fewer than 20% of users of MSM may feel moderately sick in the first few days of using MSM. It may be small consolation to know, that the stronger the symptoms are, the more toxicants had been stored in the body and the more MSM was needed for its purification. If more moderate symptoms of detoxification are experienced, it may be advisable to reduce the dosage of MSM, and to gradually rebuild it once the symptoms disappear.
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