Top Health Benefits of MSM for Pain Relief, Skin and Lungs

| Modified on Apr 13, 2024
Health Benefits of MSM

MSM, an organic sulfur compound, is a popular health supplement commonly used as a natural remedy for joint problems, allergies, and asthma. Additional health benefits of MSM include improved health and vitality of skin, hair, and nails.

While this supplement provides excellent relief to some, it does cause significant side effects in others.

Earth Clinic readers have reported a wide range of benefits from taking MSM every day. They range from healing cervical neck injuries to alleviating rosacea. MSM is also an potent topical remedy for skin health, according to feedback from our readers.

What is MSM?

MSM is the abbreviation for Methylsulfonylmethane. It is also known as Dimethyl sulfone or DMSO2. MSM is not the same thing as DMSO, though they are undoubtedly close cousins in the natural health world. Both are commonly used for joint issues. Fortunately, MSM does not leave its user with a garlicky odor as DMSO often does. MSM is also not used as a carrier to get other nutrients into the system through the skin, as DMSO is.

MSM's chemical compound formula is C2H6O2S. (1)

While the name may take you a long time to learn to pronounce, it is merely a carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur compound. Each of those elements is critical to life. MSM brings much-needed sulfur to the body.

MSM is naturally occurring in plants, fruits, and vegetables. It has a reputation as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. One study found that MSM has the potential to be a promising supplement for those with ulcerative colitis.

In times past, people would travel a long way (long before modern transportation was available) to soak in mineral springs that contained many minerals, including sulfur. Sulfur springs are not as pleasant as normal hot springs because they smell strongly like eggs. (Eggs are a source of sulfur, too!)

One study in 2002 found that "sulfur bath therapy could cause a reduction in oxidative stress." (2)

How the Body Benefits from MSM

Pain Relief

Pain from a variety of causes has been effectively reduced or eliminated by an MSM supplement, including the following:

  • Joint Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Trigger Finger
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Cervical Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Nerve Pain

Breathing Issues

Breathing issues have been relieved with MSM, not the least of which are:

  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • COPD

Gastrointestinal Issues

Digestive concerns that are often alleviated with MSM include:

  • Constipation
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • IBS

Skin and Hair

Cosmetic Benefits from MSM include:

  • More robust and faster-growing hair
  • Stronger fingernails
  • Improved Skin
  • Reduction of Melasma
  • Elimination of Acne

How Could One Supplement Help So Many Diseases?

Many diseases are caused by nutritional deficiency. Sulfur is necessary for your bones, joints, hair, skin, nails, digestion, and many other functions. It is the third most prevalent mineral in your body. If your body lacks in sulfur, that deficiency may be evident now, or it may be apparent in the future when the cumulative effect of a chronic nutritional deficiency surface.

One study suggests that a significant proportion of the population may not be receiving sufficient sulfur. (3)

What Kind of MSM Should I Take?

MSM is available in powder form and capsules.

The powder form is typically less expensive and less likely to contain additives. (But check the label - some MSM powders contain additives.)

The capsule form is more convenient and a good option if you do not like the taste of MSM. The powdered form gives more flexibility in the dosage so you can suit your supplement regimen to your own needs. You can even add the powder to your morning smoothie.

How Much MSM Should I Take?

As with any new supplement, it is wise to start with a small amount and increase the dose slowly, if needed.  Side effects from MSM can be significant and cause undue stress. They include anxiety, heart palpitations, racing heart and detoxing symptoms.

While some people take 1/2 teaspoon a day and feel it helps them, others find it takes a tablespoon a day or more to experience the level of relief desired.

Don't start with more than 1/2 teaspoon a day. Starting with 1/4 teaspoon might be more prudent. If you are taking capsules, start with the lowest recommended dose. and no more It may be best to start with half the amount of the lowest recommended dose on the bottle.

MSM and Animals

MSM is a popular remedy for pets, farm animals and is mainly known in the equine world. Horse owners have long recognized the benefit of MSM to sore joints and muscles of their horses.

Dog owners use it to treat hip dysplasia and arthritis. Cat owners use it to treat allergies in their cats.

Earth Clinic readers suggest setting down a 2nd bowl filled with water with a teaspoon of MSM added to it. If your pet needs sulfur, he or she will take sips from the MSM. If it is not needed, the animal will stick to the fresh water dish and ignore the MSM water.

Caution is advised, however. Like with people, MSM can also cause side effects in dogs, including anxiety and heart palpitations. Proceed cautiously and if you notice any new changes in your pet, remove the MSM water. It was take a day for side effects to subside.

MSM Side Effects

While you may read on the internet that MSM as safe as water, those who end up in the emergency room with side effects from taking MSM would likely disagree with that assessment. Heart palpitations and anxiety attacks are among the many reported side effects of taking MSM, even in small amounts.

Please see our extensive page on the side effects of MSM and how to avoid them.

Where to Buy

MSM is available in health food stores and online. It is a very inexpensive supplement. Here are a few Amazon links with pricing:

Kala Health MSMPure Fine Powder, 1 lb, Fast Dissolving Organic Sulfur Crystals, 99% Pure Distilled MSM Supplement, Made in USA - $21.95 MSM Powder (Methylsulfonylmethane) (1 Kilogram)- $19.95

Continue reading below for extensive feedback from Earth Clinic readers on MSM usage and let us know how MSM has helped you!

Related Links:

MSM Side Effects: What You Need to Know Before You Take It


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Jepps (Finland) on 11/27/2016

I've been using MSM for 3-5 months now, and only side effects so far have been that my acne healed away and pimples are gone! But it seem I've got more wrinkles around eyes, but that might only be cause I'm aging.


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Posted by Fiona (Sydney) on 12/20/2018

For nearly forty years I have had a problem with reactions to animal dander (horses, cats and some dogs).

After taking 1 tablespoon of msm 3 times a day they ceased!

I went through some detox reactions - headaches and mild flu like symptoms - lots of emotions surface, predominantly tears, but each episode passed quickly. It seemed with each emotional release my reactions to animal dander decreased so I embraced that by watching plenty of sad movies to speed up the process!

Msm has been life changing for me.

Posted by Barb (Ky) on 05/06/2017

I agree about msm for allergies.. I truly love this & noticed relief from the first week after talking..

I also love this for my joints (nothing better) & without the side effects for me.. 1,000mgs in my morning coffee!!! Absolutely a great supplement that worked wonders for me.. I will never be without this wonderful supplement msm. No, side effects ever.

Posted by Francisca (Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France) on 02/15/2011

I had said here a while ago that I wanted to try MSM for my allergies, hoping it would do something for my lower back pain as well but unfortunately, after almost 5 weeks nothing happened. My allergies are the same as before, sometimes itching eyes and throat and sneezing, my back pain has actually got worse. Since yesterday I am really worrying but I don't want to go to the doctor yet. Before I started taking it I read a book and I was convinced, in the meanwhile, because I had a friend coming over from the USA I ordered another book which was a lot less expensive over there to be sent to his home address. I am now starting to read it and really, it feels like a bad joke! Is it as good as they say but it just didn't work with me? It seems to do wonders for so many people.....

Right now I really fear for my back! I am 53, not too old yet but feeling like an old lady! The pain started almost 5 years ago when we got a foam mattrass, equally for me and for my husband so we thought the mattrass was to blame. 18 months ago we decided to go for one twice as expensive. My husband didn't want foam again but I felt comfortable in this one and too bad he didn't insist he didn't want it. He still has problems but I am far worse than he is especially because during the week I tend to read in bed for a bit in the morning. If I sleep on my back it is even worse. The only thing that seems to have got better with the MSM is my digestion, nowadays I eat and I never feel full.

Replied by Bess
(Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

Hi Francisca - Sorry that MSM didn't help your allergies. It was one of the few things that worked for me.

However, in Dr. J. Wright's newsletter (he operates a clinic in Washington state), he recommends the following for allergies:

There are several vitamins that can help reduce -- and in some cases eliminate - inhalant (i. E. , environmental) allergy symptoms.

Vitamin C is always the first vitamin to try. It's been shown to reduce bronchial, nasal, and sinus allergy symptoms. I recommend the "bowel tolerance" quantity of vitamin C. Basically, this means using as much vitamin C as possible, every three to four hours, without causing gas or loose bowels. For some people, this is 1, 000 milligrams (1 gram) three to four times daily; for others, it can be 4 grams or more three to four times daily.

Some people with inhalant allergies also find that taking 1, 000 milligrams of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) along with vitamin C three to four times a day helps relieve their symptoms even more than vitamin C on its own.

I don't know if that is something you might consider trying. Good luck!

Replied by Francisca
(Michelbach-le-bas, Alsace, France)

Hi Bess, thanks so much for all the information, I really appreciate! Yes, quite odd the MSM didn't help... I am taking three half teaspoons three times a day so that would make 7, 5g a day but there were no changes at all, not for my back pain either..... I feel rather frustrated! I am now reading "The power of MSM" by Earl Mindell and he advises taking MSM together with Vit. C, quercitin and pantothenic acid for allergies so a bit like what I read in your post but adding MSM and quercitin. In the past I have taken quercitin but not in this combination although, if I am not wrong, it was a complex with pantothenic acid but again it didn't really solve my problem.

Right now, together with the MSM powder (I buy it in the UK because here I only find tablets and even there they don't seem to sell crystals) which is almost finished I take 3 times a day 1g of Vit. C and also Vit. E. For the pain I might try Hyaluronic Acid which I can buy in the UK (we are going there soon and I always visit the same health food shop). But I am also going to the doctor tomorrow, something I dread doing, because I stopped taking the anticonceptive pill and the fact that the pain now is worse might be a consequence of me missing some hormones, that has always given me back pain in the past! The troubles of menopause, I suppose.....

Posted by Tim (Berkeley, CA) on 07/07/2008

I have had seasonal allergies for the past 6-7 years. Earlier this year I read about how MSM can alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies, so I decided to give it a try. The allergy season was just starting and I could feel my eyes getting a bit itchy.

I started taking 1000 mg of MSM and within 1 hour I was feeling better. It works as well as any OTC allergy medicine with out the negative health effects. As a matter of fact it is supposed to have beneficial health effects. I now take 1000 mg of MSM twice per day and have not had any more symptoms of allergies.

I love this stuff.


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Posted by Cat (Elko, Nevada) on 02/16/2015


I began after using the MSM gel for my arthritic knees and thumb. I experienced almost immediately within 2 days better movement and no pain in my knee, hip and thumb. On the 4th day I even walked a mile with my grandchildren which I was unable to do since April of 2014. My allergies were gone, and so was brain fog, I felt fantastic and could move around and be normal but? I began experiencing heart palpitations on day 5 and felt quite uneasy. They continued until I became frightened. I wrestled with feeling fabulous or heart problems as I do not like feeling disabled at 56, but have discontinued the product. This morning my walking is worsened, the pain is coming and my allergies are terrible. So extremely sad. I was taking 1/8 teaspoon once a day and had increased to 1/4 2 times a day. Any ideas?

Replied by Michaela
(Cambridge, Ma)

Hi Cat,

I had the EXACT same response as you when I tried taking MSM - heart palpitations and increasing anxiety and unbearable pressure on my chest when I lay down to sleep. I read that you should stop for a few days and then start again with a very small amount of MSM and work your way up very slowly. I have a giant bottle of MSM powder but have yet to try it again because m first experience was very scary. What if you roll on just the MSM gel and not swallow any? Maybe that's the key. Please let us know how it goes.

Replied by Lynn

Hi, quality organic msm should only be consumed. Also, some people can have a sensitivity, mild gas and bloating. Msm does detox, which can cause heart palpitations, gas, diarrhea, headache. So start off slowly, increasing the dosage over time.

Replied by Mama To Many

Dear Robert Henry,

I happened to be near a tractor supply store today so I popped in. I wanted to get some MSM to try out. I know you say you get yours at the farm stores. As you said, this brand they sold has only MSM. I noticed online that powdered MSM costs twice as much and at least one of them had extra ingredients.

I asked an employee if they had MSM for horses. (I didn't mean to imply that I had a horse, but I know that would help them know what I was looking for.)

When I left, she said, "Good luck with your horse! " I decided not to try and explain why I wanted it and that I didn't even have a horse!

I have had to explain to several children why I have a horse supplement on the kitchen counter, though. It has a picture of a horse and everything! ("We are not getting a horse." "It's for me, actually.") I got some raised eyebrows but they didn't get too excited. They are used to me always trying something new around here. :)

I may give some to my dog, too, as a preventative. His breed is prone to hip problems.

Always something new to learn about, isn't there?

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Robert Henry
(Ten Mile, Tn)

MAMA,,,,,,,, at our Co-Op there are several brands of MSM, but only one is 100%. My Tractor Driver picked up the 99% and we returned it for the 100%. Like anything else you have to read the labels.

You are right about supplement suppliers raising prices as the the demand goes up. Like Big Pharma, they will " sock it to you baby". I stole a diddy from my an ole boss back in '61 when he told me that "all companies are " chicken sheet. The only difference is the degree". Then, I thought that was a terrible thing to say, but 56 years have passed under the bridge, and I now agree.


Replied by Michael
(New Zealand)

Hi ORH, it's me again! Your posting reminded me of an interesting observation my favourite Aunt espoused when I was very small. Amongst other accomplishments, she graduated with a Diploma in Horticulture, which greatly impressed me as a small boy fascinated by all things natural and gardening. I asked her why we had white bread as well as brown bread? Same for rice, flour and sugar etc. She was an environmentalist and an advocate for organics before those terms were coined in the main stream. She was a woman ahead of her time who put her knowledge into practice on the land. I admired her a lot. She famously said to me, "The companies take all the good stuff out and feed it to the pigs and we are left with the rest". I never forgot that but I should have promptly taken up shares in a pig farm I suppose!

Rachel Carlson (sp?) wrote "Silent Spring" about the same time I would guess. Oh my, we have not learned a lot since then have we??

Cheers, Michael

Posted by Paula (Mississauga, Canaa) on 10/19/2013

Never take MSM before bed for the simple reason that it gives you energy! The best book out there on MSM is by Dr. Jacob, The Miracle of MSM. He is the foremost informative author on MSM. I just started taking MSM for my painful arthritic knees after reading the book 1st. I am 48 and have been suffering for years. I have had major surgery on one and scopes on both. I get Monovisc injections and it does help and makes my life easy but I am looking for more help and I hope MSM will be it. I must say right off the bat that applying MSM cream topically to my knees and legs and face has had amazing results.

I have suffered from dry skin ALL my life and in short order my skin is healthy and moisturized like I have never experienced. I walked down some stairs after a week on MSM and couldn't believe the ease I felt in more than a decade. Still experiencing pain doing simple things like walking but I am hopeful and will give it a year. The longer you have lived with your trouble it will take longer to benefit from MSM (as the book states) or any other remedy.

Posted by Jeffrey (Hartly, Delaware) on 06/12/2013

I was suffering arthritis in my right knee, pain so severe I began wishing for amputation. At a friend's suggestion I began taking MSM, 1 heaping tablespoon with each meal, and 1 @ bedtime. It tasted terrible, but the results were great. The pain has completely vanished, and it has been more than a year since I stopped the regimen!

Posted by Lucy (Carletonville, South Africa) on 11/15/2012

MSM for arthritis- MSM purchased from the veterinary shop or stables is cheap and it works like a charm. I have been taking the powder (very bitter!!! ) for 6 months and my arthritis is cured, although it is an ongoing remedy but the dosage is less per day.

Posted by Gail (Greater Manchester, United Kingdom) on 04/26/2011

I have been taking msm for about 6 weeks now and am amazed at the results. I was taking a high dosage of sulfasalazine for the past 3 years. I weaned myself off them in November. I can honestly say the msm has an even better pain relief than the medication.

I was taking 2 level teaspoons then increased the dosage to 2 level tablespoons until I got my joint pain under control. I am now taking a level teaspoon twice daily. This site is wonderful and I have tried many of the remedies. Thankyou all for your posts best wishes.

Posted by Joyce (Joelton, Tn) on 08/31/2009 495 posts

When I first learned about MSM from an artcle in Journal of Longevity about 15 or more years ago, I read that one of the doctors treating patients with it had been taking the race horse dose for years to see if any adverse side effects occurred. Supposedly at the age of 75(at time article was written), he still had a full head of dark hair and was still teaching medicine as well as practicing medicine.

I started off at the race horse dosage myself and continued at that dose. I wasn't aware that it was doing anything until one night I noticed it was raining and my joints that had always warned me that weather change was coming, hadn't warned me! I took MSM daily for several years at the large dosage for race horses.

I have to admit that I have gotten quite lax with it over the last few years, but my knees are giving me twinges now and then. When they do I go back on the large dose daily until I forget I had the problem, and then get slack again.

MSM supposedly has both antiinflammatory properties as well as cell regeneration. You can find a lot of information on line about MSM. There is also a book written by the doctor who wrote the article that let me in on the MSM, and I believe Dr. Jacobs (the one taking racehorse dose for years) co-authored the book on MSM. You should be able to find it in any bookstore.

Posted by Laura (Ferndale, MD, USA) on 04/20/2007

I have had Psoriatic Arthritis since I was 10 years old, & one of the worst symptoms I've had for 38 yrs now, is daily shooting nerve pains in my extremities. The good news: when I take 1000 mgs of MSM daily, the shooting pains are completely gone. If I miss a few days, they always start up again. Love this site.

Posted by Jane (Poulsbo, WA)

I have found that taking MSM seems to reduce pain from old injuries and arthritis. Also, MSM seems to add an essential nutrient to the system. It would be good to read one of the books written about this ingredient, nutritional sulphur, since it will answer many questions that people will have.

I told a friend about MSM and he started to take it, and found he felt immensely less pain in his back.

Arthritis, Hair and Nails

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Posted by JoJean (La Grande, OR) on 02/23/2007

I also take MSM, however, if you read the tells you not to take it after 2 pm as it may cause sleeplessness. I have never experienced anxiety. I take 4 100 mg caps in the morning and 4 at noon with no problems. It does help my arthritis and my hair and nails grow like crazy.


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Posted by Darlene (Downey, Ca) on 07/24/2014

MSM worked great for my daughter's asthma. She's doing awesome and no more inhalers. Amazing stuff. I use MSM for my allergies.