MSM Side Effects and How to Avoid Them!

Feb 28, 2017

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


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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.

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 greatful 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 asteopenia 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 discribed here concerning the heart beating weird, anxiety(I quess) because I don't know how else to expain how I was feeling, shaollow breathing, heaviness of chest etc. All this had been going on for sometime and I normally could meditate on scriptures and it would go away, this night was different. My jaunt to the ER, showed irregular heatbeat, palputaions to be exact. However, all of my blood work came back normal, showing no previous heart attacks or heart desease. I have been refered 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, every bodies matabolism is differnt, so what works for others may not work for someone else. I am very happy for those folks that this works for. Of course, every bodies matabolism is differnt, 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


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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


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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!


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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.


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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  

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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  

Posted by Shelleyjr (Albuquerque, NM) on 04/01/2014

I started MSM 5 days ago for Osteoarthritis pain and have had terrible headaches and bloating/gas. I got molybdenum yesterday and while it cured the headache, I still have tummy issues. (Arthritis is already better! )

I am taking 4 Doctor's Best MSM 1000 mg/1 gm capsules split between am and late afternoon. I took 450 mcg of molybdenum this morning with 2 gms of MSM and did the same this afternoon. Again no headache but my stomach feels bloated/gassy.

Health History;

I had hair analysis done a while back and each time it showed very high amounts of calcium and copper. (I had a copper toxicity using a skin care product on my clients. I absorbed a lot of copper through the palm of my hands doing facials.) Since then I have been doing a lot of detox's over the years.


I take Iodoral iodine, K2 and D3, CoQ10, boron/borax, tart cherry capsules for the OA and gout, and topical magnesium.

Today I have taken 900 mcg of molybdenum and feel it is working somewhat but not to the extent that Dr. Ben Lynch says on his podcast. Which he states molybdenum will eliminate bloating/gas associated with MSM. Also, in Dr. Lynch's podcast he list all the symptoms of a molybdenum deficiency which I answered "yes" to all. Since I am not worried about depleting my copper levels should I take more? And has anyone taken molybdenum in high doses over 950 mcg?

Thank you for any insight on high dose molybdenum.

Replied by Timh
Ky, Usa

Shelleyjr: I also had very high Calcium levels as per hair analysis. Bill from Philippines says it's probably due to leaky gut or malabsorption. I feel like I have made improvements in that category but will need to repeat test for sure.

Sunbathing for Vit-D should help absorb the calcium in the event that your gut isn't doing well. An herbal parasite cleanse might be of big value as parasites are very common in folks, particularly those w/ pets or livestock. Oil of Oregano will kill any pathogens in the gut.

As for the MolyB and excessive copper, it appears warranted to add at least 50mg Zinc daily as Zinc will combine w/ Copper to form Zinc/Copper Superoxide Dismutase, a major antioxidant enzyme in the body. Ionic Major & Minor Mineral supplement will help bring about a balance of minerals. Taurine will help mineral function. A complete B vitamin will combine w/ minerals to form coenzymes involved in many metabolic processes. Vit-E and Selenium will combine w/ the CoQ10 for a major antioxidant boost.

Pineapple, Turmeric, and Omega 3 fats are the major ant anti-inflammatory naturals. Magnet therapy is a powerful anti-inflammatory.


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Posted by Zach (Upstate, Ny) on 11/14/2015
0 out of 5 stars

I recently started taking MSM (about 3 days ago) first day I took 1000 mg tablet on my way home from work (I stopped at a local supermarket at 5:15 am cause I work overnights) and had insomnia that night... should have read not to take it before bed. So I tried it the next day 1000 mg 2x's. Felt exhausted, slight headache and I drank distilled water about half a gallon.

Next day I took 3 tablets (1000 mg each) finished the other half a gallon of distilled water and had same symptoms. I woke up after that my eyes were pounding in my skull worse headache and exhausted more than usual. I want to take advantage of the benefits but I can't do 2 weeks of the detoxing.

Could it be I got a low quality (wegmans brand MSM), taking too high a dose (i weigh 230 6'5 male) , or is it just not for me? I take atenolol for pre hypertension celexa for my social anxiety, and aderal for adhd. my anxiety gives me slight ocd like behaviors as far as "ticks" go. I have zero emotion on the meds so I'm trying to get off them.

Replied by Janet

Zach, When I started MSM the first time I could not breath, felt awful. Found Earth Clinic, got off wheat products. Then I tried MSM again. No problems. First check the ingredients if it contains titanium dioxide, it can make you sicker than whatever you are taking the supplement for. There are other ingredients that are not great but titanium dioxide seems the worst offender. I have read much about it and the new nano technology and it is the first additive to be used with this in it. I inadvertently took MSM with it and was very ill for 2 months headaches aches tiredness just terrible feeling. I also had some chest tightness. I upped my usage of alkalizing drinks of Apple Cider Vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to three a day, and used hydrogen peroxide spray from Earth Clinic's video to push it out of my system .I am almost over it, it took awhile, about a month. Janet

Replied by Mary

Sounds like your dosage is too high too soon. Headaches are a sure sign of that. Start low, and add dosages week by week. If you get headaches or any undesirable affect back down on dosages for awhile then proceed to desirable dosage.

Replied by Zmerrill4361
Upstate, Ny
5 out of 5 stars

Here is an update for any interested. I went off it for a few days to stop going through detox and purchased the MSM powder with no additives, then went from 1000 MG each morning and added 1000 MG to the regiment every week till where I'm currently at (8000).

But then I added some more supplements.

Since I work overnights and rarely see the sun I started taking vitamin D3 and K2 as I hear they are a good combo and milk thistle since the MSM detox your liver and kidneys. Also I'm taking Rhodiola for stress. I still take the blood pressure meds but its as low as its been in years and off the anxiety all together.

So thank you for all your advice

Posted by Nikki (Usa) on 09/17/2015
3 out of 5 stars

Better But With Side Effects

In a nutshell, MSM is amazing, but not for everyone. It erradicates my allergy symptoms at "moderate" doses 5grams/day but I have to take much more for relief from spine pain. However when I got a routine of taking 1 tbsp (Crystal form which by volume is a lesser dosage than fine powder) once or twice a day. My skin looked great (more youtheful but without the blemishes) and my body was starting to feel flexible with much less pain. Sadly, I had headaches daily. The migraines I had grown to expect came with the same frequency as before, but I had this other less intense but certainly very unpleasant headache day and night. Perhaps I was detoxing, but it went on for two months and I had to stop MSM to see if it was the culprit. The headaches cleared up in a few days. When I went back to a moderate dose of 4-5 grams per day, allergies were mostly erradicated and I didn't have a daily headache, but the back/neck pain and inflammation in general didn't seem very much improved. I have just read the notes here on MSM posibly depleting Molybdenum so I will research this and try taking Molybdenum as well, if it appears safe to do so. I believe MSM is a useful detoxifier and might be especially helpful to detox after vaccination (at any point after, but certainly the sooner the better).

I appreciate links to research and notes on these matters as well as personal experience of MSM and it's ability to cause headache (indirectly or however).

Posted by Joyce (Manteca, Ca Usa) on 04/13/2013
0 out of 5 stars

I was so happy to find this site. I took 2 tsp MSM for 2 days and 1/2 tsp for 2 days and 3 weeks later I'm still having reactions. I wake in the middle of the night with my body buzzing and I'm having headaches (which I've never had in my life). My energy level is very low. I'm 75 and very healthy otherwise; I'm still working as a substiture teacher. I'm allergic to sulfa and that may be the problem since some others on the site said they were unable to take MSM because of that. I was really hoping it would help with my shoulder problems. I have a damaged rotator cuff (inoperable) from hairstyling for 34 years.

Replied by Linda
New Haven, Ct, United States

Joyce, regarding your shoulder issue, both my husband and myself have rotator cuff issues. We have had very good results with turmeric powder. We take 1 teaspoon 2 or 3 times a day. We either mix it with a glass of milk or scramble it into our eggs. Add a dash of black pepper and some fat (we use coconut oil or butter) for better absorption.

We both noticed improvement starting on the 3rd day or so. It's marvelous!


Replied by Little Wing

Instead of MSM for your shoulder issues, I highly recommend and praise to the sky MAGNESIUM OIL. Try it, rub on every night, see if you see a difference within a week or so. It can be drying and make your skin itchy, so I usually follow up after about 20 minutes with coconut oil, which can also help with joint and muscle issues.