MSM Side Effects and How to Avoid Them!

| Modified on Oct 07, 2021
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MSM Supplement Side Effects

MSM, used as a health supplement, can cause mild to severe side effects. While many people use this supplement with great success, some do not have excellent results. The amount you take, other medications you take and your own personal constitution will affect how MSM works for you.

MSM is commonly taken to relieve arthritis and pain. MSM, also known as methyl sulfone, is a sulfur compound containing carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sulfur.

Side effects that affect the heart include palpitations, tightness in the chest, and increased blood pressure. More than one person has ended up in the emergency room with scary heart symptoms from taking MSM.

Emotional side effects caused by MSM can be equally as debilitating and frightening. Anxiety and mild to severe depression are side effects experienced by some who take MSM. Mood swings may be more pronounced.

MSM can affect the skin with rashes, dry skin, hives and itching.

While some who take MSM experience an increase in energy, others experience fatigue, exhaustion, and dizziness.

Digestive side effects can include gas, foul stools, constipation, diarrhea and urine retention.

Headaches, migraines, insomnia, muscle cramps, increased thirst and dehydration are other side effects reported by those who have tried MSM.

How to Avoid Side Effect when taking MSM

1. Start Slowly

Start with any new supplement it is usually a good idea to start with a small dose and increase your dose slowly so that you can watch for side effects and evaluation how the supplement is working for you. You can even start with ½ or ¼ or the manufacturer’s recommended dose.

2. Check Labels

Look for added ingredients in your supplement. Sometimes the ingredients added in the processing of supplements is the true culprit in side effects.

3. Use a Quality Brand

Use a brand that was recommended to you by someone you know, or your natural health practitioner.

4. Take MSM Early in the Day

Do not take MSM late in the day or at bedtime to avoid the side effect of insomnia.

5. Take MSM with Food

When you first start taking MSM, it is advisable to take it with food. It is more common to have side effects from new supplements when you take them on an empty stomach.

MSM: Is it for Everyone?

Some who have reactions to sulfa drugs also have trouble with MSM, so if you have reactions to sulfa drugs, you MSM may not be the best solution for you.

People with mood disorders seem to be more likely to have serious psychological side effects like anxiety and depression.

If you have mild to serious nutritional deficiencies, MSM could exacerbate that problem. MSM can deplete molybdenum, an essential trace mineral.

Individuals who take prescription or over the counter medications on a regular basis may find that MSM affects the way their medications work.

Those whose bodies are severely toxic or sick are at higher risk for detox reactions and side effects. It may not be that MSM is the problem, but if it removes undesirable metals or parasites from your body when you take it, your body may feel quite ill during the detox process.

If MSM causes side effects for you, or seems incompatible with your situation, do not lose heart. There are many wonderful natural remedies to consider in lieu of MSM.

Have you experienced side effects from MSM? We would love for you to share your experience with us!

Additional Pages of Interest:

Natural Remedies for Arthritis

Natural Remedies for Joint Pain


6 User Reviews

Posted by Kelly (Seattle) on 06/07/2016
0 out of 5 stars

In response to Cat from Nevada's post in the arthritis section regarding anxiety and heart palpitations from MSM

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?

According to the 'inventor' of MSM, Dr. Stanley Jacobs, MSM is a "cholinesterase inhibitor. Cholinsterase is an enzyme that stops excessive passage of nerve impulses from one nerve cell to another."

So if this cholinesterase enzyme is INHIBITED by MSM, then one may develop worsening anxiety, muscle twitching, cramping, and yes, heart palpitations, etc., -- all the symptoms of excess choline or acetylcholine.

I found this out the hard way, experiencing worsening leg cramps, muscle twitching and anxiety.

It may help some who have very low levels of choline, but should be avoided by others.

Replied by Trisha
(Columbus, Indiana)
0 out of 5 stars

I believe this is my problem! I've had other issues with high acetylcholine with fish oil supplements. I never put two and two together that MSM could affect choline levels. My joints and muscles have gotten terrible since starting MSM. Did your symptoms go away quickly after stopping MSM?

Replied by Charity
(Faithville, Usa)

I use a lot of msm and vitamin c and it can deplete molybdenum and that makes some problems.

Molybdenum reduces symptoms of candida die off and also helps create enamel on teeth, from what I have read.

Replied by Madeline
(New York)

This is to Kelly. I see this is an old post but in case you see it, I wanted to suggest something. You were having such great effects from MSM, its a shame to have to go back to being disabled in so many ways. The suggestion I want to make is to try taking Magnesium. There is a supplement called "CALM". My husband gets racing heart palpitations occasionally. Especially after or during exertion (he is a Chef so working conditions can be fast paced and hot). When he drinks a dose of "CALM" during those incidents, it stops rather immediately. My best to you.


Yes, magnesium is important. I think I may have leaky gut or my system doesn't absorb what it requires. I have to take 2-3 400mg magnesium, a banana for potassium and use Himalayan salt every day or my calf cramps at night and heart palpitations can be brutal. Calm is good but after taking it for 2 years, my teeth became sensitive to the citric acid. Someone here on EC suggested Black walnut for tooth sensitivity and it works very well.

Posted by Om (Hope, Bc, Canada) on 06/03/2013

Re MSM side effects. I purchased MSM in crystal form. When I put 1/8th teasp. to my mouth I had instant pictures in front of my eyes of people in panic and an allover anxiety message. Now I am not suffering of anxieties nor do I do drugs. But since then I have sprinkled it over my pets' food but have not the courage to try it again. I don't think I swallowed it.

I wonder if this supplement works on the lower chakras as I have had experience with herbs and even homeopathics causing effects that, lets say, were not "wholesome" and in effect were psychedelic experiences. I believe these supplements work differently on the individual, as in old and established medicine systems it is imperative to know ones Doshas, otherwise healing can be mere guess work.

I don't like unwelcome mental experiences so I stay away from a product if this happens. Om

Posted by Kathy (Covington, Virginia) on 11/26/2010
0 out of 5 stars

I have read all the feedback on msm. Now I am confused. I am having pain in my knees and legs. Have for sometime. I mix 2 capsules of msm in lotion and apply as much as needed. This seems to help, but not for long. I would like to start taking msm by mouth, but now if it causes anxiety i can't do that. I already have chronic anxiety and am taking zoloft, have been for ten years. The msm i use is pure. What can i do?

Replied by Tom
(Regina, Sk)

Kathy: Again, any 'anxiety' reaction to the MSM is not seen in the majority, and even when it is it is likely simply the reaction to the body having too many waste products moving around at the same time due to MSM's nearly unique property of opening up cell membrane porosity for better efficiency moving things in and out across that membrane. This is for ALL organs and tissues, so in fact one minor problem but one to note well is that in addition to this temporary condition, there may well be a reaction ALSO caused by taking RX meds at the same time as being on a MSM regimen, because the increased porosity will cause the RX drug dose to be in effect multiplied, maybe 25%, 50%, or even double or triple! And what is one symptom of too high a dose of anti-depressant/anxiety medication? Why, it's ANXIETY! (Just do a Search. )

Also, remember it takes days at least even once stopped taking any RX drug for it to be really well cleared out by the liver and kidneys. So even if one goes off the drug in order to take MSM, it is best to wait several days at least before starting MSM. (one can lessen this down to non-existent by simply slowly increasing the daily MSM dosage, a week at a time, starting at the lowest dose for body weight and then after a month or two getting up to the highest). BTW, the antidepressant RX drugs have what must be the highest placebo effect of any drug class, at least for 'depression'(placebo effect for this drug class on other prescribed conditions like OCD, anxiety, etc. not given)

It seems I am not alone in having moral qualms about blowing the whistle on antidepressants. That first analysis, in 1998, examined 38 manufacturer-sponsored studies involving just over 3,000 depressed patients. The authors, psychology researchers Irving Kirsch and Guy Sapirstein of the University of Connecticut, saw as everyone else had that patients did improve, often substantially, on SSRIs, tricyclics, and even MAO inhibitors, a class of antidepressants that dates from the 1950s. This improvement, demonstrated in scores of clinical trials, is the basis for the ubiquitous claim that antidepressants work. But when Kirsch compared the improvement in patients taking the drugs with the improvement in those taking dummy pills clinical trials typically compare an experimental drug with a placebo he saw that the difference was minuscule. Patients on a placebo improved about 75 percent as much as those on drugs. Put another way, three quarters of the benefit from antidepressants seems to be a placebo effect. Remember this is NEWSWEEK talking, THE Establishment mass news outlet, so for them to put it out there means it's already long obvious to most.

Did you read over the ANXIETY section?:

If anything, there's too many things there you can try! So pick one that's cheap, easily available, and has some YAYS behind it.

Posted by Denise (Brooklyn, New York) on 08/10/2008
0 out of 5 stars

I just started taking 1000mg of msm with 1000 mg of vitamin c and GSE to treat my melasma but today my third day I am feeling kind of strange, anxious, restless and nauseos I dont know much about this supplement and am a little concerned. As much as i want to get rid of the melasma my health is first does anyone know if this passes I already suffer from insomnia and this is making it worse. Would the vitamin c and GSE work on its own?

Posted by Sherry (Jacksonville, North Carolina) on 11/27/2007
0 out of 5 stars


re: Side Effects of MSM --

I am so grateful to God for this forum. I can totally relate to DL from CA, that posting is almost a total duplicate of what I just recently experienced. I had been having constant pain in my legs and feet for over a year and had, had my fill. I did some research and came across the MSM. I was also diagnosed with osteopenia about the same time, so I decided to try it.

Two night ago I had my son take me to the ER, I was having a lot of what's been described here concerning the heart beating weird, anxiety(I guess) because I don't know how else to explain how I was feeling, shallow breathing, heaviness of chest etc. All this had been going on for some time and I normally could meditate on scriptures and it would go away, this night was different. My jaunt to the ER, showed irregular heartbeat, palpitations to be exact. However, all of my blood work came back normal, showing no previous heart attacks or heart disease. I have been referred for a stress test. I am going to discontinue my use of MSM and see what happens. I will keep you posted as to what happens after I am no longer taking this product. Oh yeah, one of the other effects is headaches. I also started getting headaches that wouldn't go away. I sorta fluffed that off figuring it was a sinus thing, however, these aren't sinus area specific. So, I'm thinking this is all related. Time will tell.

I am very happy for those folks that this works for. Of course, everybody's metabolism is different, so what works for others may not work for someone else. Anyone else that may have related info. that would be helpful to my situation please feel free to e-mail me. God Bless

Replied by Michele
0 out of 5 stars

I went to the ER too. MSM was helping me with hair loss and arthritis. Then I had chest pains and started taking a beta blocker. I overdosed and went to the ER. I had pains seemingly in my vein in my neck. I thought maybe I was experiencing a blood clot. I went to the ER 2 more times before I made the connection.

Anxiety, Caution for Pets

1 User Review

Posted by Deirdre (Ct) on 08/28/2020
0 out of 5 stars

Thank you for your great post on MSM, Art!

I think people do need to be very careful when they take MSM orally. I have taken it in the past and it caused anxiety and this sensation of pressure on the heart that was intense! I think that is a common side effect for people starting out on MSM.

Turns out you also have to be equally careful with dogs too! I gave a very small amount to my dogs in their dinner recently to help with arthritis and the next day, one of them wouldn't stop whining all day. He was clearly feeling punk from the supplement. No more of that! After 24 hours it left his system and he was back to his happy old boy self.

I will have to try it topically (on myself, not the dogs) and see if has the same side effects.

Replied by Rsw

Hi Deirdre,

Recently, my husband was having pain in his golf hands, and he read that MSM could be helpful. I told him I had some powder and he is using it with good results. However, when I got it out, I have written in black magic marker, “Not for RW! Allergic! Do Not Take.” I am allergic to sulfa medicines, and I think this is the reason I can't take MSM. It is the only supplement I have marked with a warning. I honestly can't remember what happened, but it may have been breathing or anxiety problems, but must have been bad for me to label it that way. It seems to work well to relieve pain for many people.

Replied by Art
1002 posts

Hi Rsw,

You can be allergic to sulfa drugs and you can be allergic to an organic sulfur like MSM, but they are two different allergies and having one does not mean that you also have the other.


Replied by Rsw

Hi Art,

There must be something in both that makes me feel terrible, sometimes with breathing problems. I also noticed a long time ago, as did my family, that if I had a glass of red wine, I could count on getting very congested afterwards, we thought possibly from the sulfites. I try to stay away from anything that contains any of those words.

My husband's hands were about the same, but he hadn't used the hand cream very long before he read about the kidney info. He almost died when he was a child from nephritis, and he has some kidney numbers that aren't optimal now, so he is hesitant to try something if he reads anything adverse.

Thank you for the info on several topics. I will post on the LP later. I am trying your homeopathic back treatment at the moment. I have had back pain with gardening or cleaning since I hurt my back years ago while shoveling and spreading a truck load of mulch. Not sure it is stenosis, but thought it couldn't hurt. I will take it until January or February, at least.

So good to read your posts with such good documentation. You give so many people hope with your research!

Anxiety, Insomnia

1 User Review

Posted by Cheryl (Philadelphia ) on 05/06/2017 2 posts
0 out of 5 stars

I have had insomnia for a long time. I currently had it under control when put on nature throid for Hashimoto's. I also take sleep mess which weren't really working before. Then I started MSm and started with 1 gram and increased by a gm/ day for 10 days. Fine until the 10th day when I started to become anxious and couldn't sleep and had a massive headache for 3 days. I cut back to 1gm and the headaches and anxiety went away but I still have the insomnia. Don't sleep at all for 2 nights and 3rd night sleep 3-4 hours. Thinking of stopping the MSm for a few days to see if it helps the sleep. I was using the MSm because I have chronic neck pain and some back pain and most recently injured my rotator cuff and want to avoid surgery.

Bladder Irritation

1 User Review

Posted by Stephanie (Oregon) on 02/12/2021
0 out of 5 stars

Hello, When I take MSM, 1000 capsule, I start getting what feels like a UTI, doctor finds no infection. I feel this must be some reaction to MSM. Has anyone else had this sort of reaction and how did you cure it? Thank you


1 User Review
3 star (1) 

Posted by Alex (London, England) on 07/05/2009
3 out of 5 stars

Better But With Side Effects

I have just started taking MSM for IC cystitis. I feel an improvement already but have come out in big spots over my head and neck like boils. Has anyone else experienced this? Is this part of the detox? Love to you all Alex


1 User Review
4 star (1) 

Posted by Rsw (Oh) on 01/23/2017
4 out of 5 stars


I have been reading about the many health improvements that can come from taking MSM, so I ordered some 100% OptiMSM Silicon Dioxide. I had read it could help with muscle pain, stress, seasonal allergies, sleep, etc, and I did notice that a couple of hours after taking 1/4 tsp., I could breathe through both sides of my nose, not usual for me. However, at the same time I began coughing, which I thought was a fluke.

The next day, I took another 1/4tsp. and the same thing happened. Clear nose, increased coughing, until I woke up this morning with a lost voice, much coughing and tightness in the chest. Has anyone else had a similar response?

I have no temperature, so I am not sick. I was pretty much unable to understand the article that Art posted, (my lack of knowledge, nothing against the article, Art) so if that was a warning, please post in simple terms so I will understand.

Could this be an allergy to MSM? Maybe just a fluke?

I also want to let people know that I stopped taking my LDN for all of December in order to try Daisy's recommendation for non-alcoholic Essiac tea tonic, (which I feel helped to detox my system, but did not alleviate the Lichen Planus as it did for her), and I have been very achey, and feeling less well than normal. I will not be doing that again!

I didn't realize how much better I felt all the years I have used it, and I can't remember even having a cold in over six years that I have been taking it. I am thinking about trying the GAPS diet soon to see if I can rid my body of these autoimmune problems.


Have you looked at the feedback on the MSM Side Effects page here?

Chest tightness is one of the reported side effects.

Replied by Rsw

Thank you, Earth Clinic. I looked over all the MSM comments, and noticed several people say they were unable to take MSM because of a sulfa allergy, which I also have. This coughing and chest tightness is actually the same symptoms I got (only worse) when I was prescribed sulfa pills for a throat infection a long time ago. I was under the impression that sulfur was different from sulfa, but there may be some crossover. Although many people seem to benefit from MSM, I don't think it is going to work for me. So happy you directed me to those comments! Thanks!

Replied by Wendy

Sulfa is not the same as sulphur. Two completely different things. When they say "sulfa allergy" it usually involves rx drugs. Sulphur is a very common component to food in low amounts, so it's unlikely one would have a sulphur allergy.


1 User Review
1 star (1) 

Posted by Joanna (New York, New York) on 10/25/2007
1 out of 5 stars


I started taking 2 grams of MSM per day for about 9 days (NOW Foods brand in capsule form). As soon as I swallowed a capsule, I became excessively thirsty. I'd even wake up in the middle of the night to drink 2 full glasses of water. I perspired much more (perhaps from all the water I drank), which didn't bother me because I liked sweating more in the sauna. I got pains in my body, especially in my arms and hands - I felt like I was getting arthritis/tendonitis, which was weird because I thought MSM was supposed to help if you have that. My bowel movements increased from 1 per day to 4. At night I'd notice my heart was beating fast. I can usually walk for miles but I got really scared when I found I had trouble walking fast and breathing well on a fairly short walk. I was searching the web for allergic reactions to MSM but couldn't find any. The only other supplement I was taking at that time was 50mg of Ubiquinol (CoQ10). So I stopped taking both. The thirst and breathing/heart problems went away fairly fast, but the pains in my arms lasted a few weeks. Since the time I stopped taking it (probably 1.5 months now), I've been getting sharp pains in my upper abdomen (left and right sides), which have been slowly getting better.


2 User Reviews

Posted by George (Melbourne, Australia) on 08/28/2010
0 out of 5 stars

Side effects: Insomnia and severe depression after taking msm for 3 weeks.

Posted by TammyQ (Chicago, IL) on 11/18/2008
0 out of 5 stars

MSM caused severe mood swings in me, then severe depression, so if you have mood disorders, I don't recommend to take it.

Difficulty Breathing

1 User Review
1 star (1) 

Posted by Paula (Tulsa, OK) on 11/27/2007
1 out of 5 stars


re: MSM suppliment, 1000 mg -- I had some bad symptoms similar to Joanna's taking only 1 capsule a day for several days. I'm not allergic to any substances to my knowledge but awoke with difficulty breathing, very sharp pains in my sides, an ache in my back,and my eyes dried out. I'm not real fond of this MSM supplement. Also, my mood was downcast.Watch yourself with this one..

Digestive Problems

2 User Reviews
5 star (1) 

Posted by Darlene B. (Us) on 08/01/2017
5 out of 5 stars

I have ibs and for some reason after supplementing with msm for about a week, I start to suffer a lot of bloating, gas and eventually diarreah. It seems to need to build up in my system for about a week before the symptoms begin. I stop for several weeks and then try again and again the same thing happens.

Replied by Timh
2083 posts

It appears you are not properly absorbing the MSM. Try Oil of Oregano softgels + one spoon of Milled Flax Seed once or twice daily for couple wks, then add one gram Vit-C taken with the MSM, and you should notice some positive changes.

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