MSM Side Effects and How to Avoid Them!


5 User Reviews

Posted by Vicky (Vic) on 04/25/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Hi, I've been taking msm sulfur because I've heard good things about it, but when I take it I can't go 2 sleep and I don't know why. Can anyone explain?

Replied by Zmerrill4361
(Upstate, Ny)

Since it oxygenates your blood it gives you energy. so start with small doses and take it first thing when you get up. I take it instead of coffee. never before bed. (I learned that just like you did.)

Good luck.

Posted by Nicole (Australia) on 12/23/2013
0 out of 5 stars

Hi everyone, I first decided to take msm sulphur because I wanted to detox and see if it could improve my rosacea and keratosis pilaris, among other health problems. I took 1 tsp for a week, the first few days I noticed it make my insomnia worse so I decided to take it in the morning, but nothing changed my insomnia was still worse, I also noticed my constipation was worse. I decided not to take it today and actually had a bowel movement. I just wanted to know am I taking too much? how much should I start off with? I was only taking 1 tsp why was this happening? Thanks in advance for your help:)

Replied by Timh
2100 posts

Nicole: This could simply be "die-off" reactions as the detoxification is undergoing. You may want to consider taking Vit-C at different time than MSM as they will compliment each other. Alpha Lipoic Acid will also sync w/ the C & MSM. 3-12mg Melatonin prior to retiring w/ help detox as well as sleep.

Replied by Nicole

I'm still having this problem if anyone can please help me. When I take msm in a glass of orange juice I either feel nausea or actually throw up.I try taking it in low dosage and build it but but it eventually makes me sick. Could it be because I don't drink enough water during the day?

Replied by Dave
(Fountain Inn, Sc)


Re nausea when taking MSM with Orange Juice;

Idea: Orange Juice is acidic and the combo might cause the reaction. Try taking the MSM with a milder juice. I take MSM with water...along with a dozen other nutrients...never get nausea.

I NEVER drink orange juice unless I know I'm alkaline. OJ is worse than coffee and is hard on the body.

Posted by Alijawales (Wales, Uk) on 11/08/2013

MSM has triggered severe insomnia in me, but it's because it is dealing with parasites in my body. They are always much more active at night and the MSM is driving them nuts. Hopefully this will pass.

If MSM is keeping you awake, it may not actually be the MSM that is the real issue...

Also, the body does its housekeeping at night when we are resting and not diverting our energy to other things. As Sulfur is one of the elements that helps the body detox, and absorb nutrition better, which helps in the healing process, it is very likely to trigger rashes, headaches, nausea, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, etc., in fact anything that could be used as a route to get unwanted matter out of the body.

We assume these things are 'illnesses', but they are just the body's way of cleaning itself. We go and get medications to suppress these processes, often driving toxins even deeper into the body instead of giving the body the tools, and the recognition for its amazingly designed ability to heal itself.

Replied by Sophia
(South Africa)

Thank you for a simple and very informative comment.

Posted by Ellen (London , Uk) on 04/21/2013
0 out of 5 stars

I am one of those people for whom MSM did not work. I had insomnia. What does this mean? Do I need to detox? My joints are very creaky and noisy but are less painful than they used to be. MSM might not be an option for me. Any advice? Thank you!

Replied by Cb
(Blaricum, Netherlands)

Hi, you can try Paida and Lajin, it is introduced by Hongchi Xiao. You 'clear' the meridians with Lajin (streching) and toxins will be expelled by Paida (slapping on the joints). It's is a holistic approach and is good for your overall health.

Replied by Alike
(Wales, Uk)

The body does a lot of healing and cleansing at night, so taking elements that help this process can trigger insomnia.

Some say that taking MSM late can keep them awake, but it's more likely the healing and detox response. Also some people may be unaware they have parasites. They become active at night. Taking MSM can help to deal with them, but initially it may make them very aggravated, and trigger a lot more activity.

Persevering with the MSM will usually find those detox or other issues resolving. Sulphur (MSM) aids the detox process and helps the body assimilate and use nutrition far better, so healing responses are often enhanced.

Posted by Kim (Macomb, MI) on 08/15/2008
0 out of 5 stars

It was good to read it's not just happening to me. I've been taking a liquid form of MSM, glucosamine, & chondroitin for one week STOPPING today. I have been experiencing rapid heart rate and chest tightness/pain. One night I didn't sleep at all. I've taken the gluc/chon before with no issues, so I'm sure it's the MSM. No more. Also of note, I'm allergic to sulfa as many women are, and I just learned that a person allergic to sulfa shouldn't take MSM. It was good to read your feedback. I hope mine helps someone too.

Posted by Lisa (SF, CA) on 07/21/2008
0 out of 5 stars

MSM sort of a warning...

I started taking MSM a few weeks ago, in the hopes of getting rid of, or at least fading, the melasma I have. I started with 2000mg capsules in the a.m. Then increased to 3000mg, and last week to 4000 mg., a combo of tablets and powder (just because I had both, so mixed 'em up). I have not noticed a difference in the melasma, (I am applying topically, too) but have experienced sleeplessness. I already have a problem with insomnia, so this is not good. I noticed the sleeplessness got really bad after increasing to 4000mg., so I've cut down to 3000mg. I really noticed the increase in energy when I started taking the MSM, despite a lack of sleep. About 2 months ago, I began taking SAM-E for mood, and it seems to have helped, but that is also a sulphur compound, so perhaps that with the MSM is too much?

Joint Pain

2 User Reviews
1 star (1) 

Posted by Joan (Ny) on 10/25/2016
0 out of 5 stars

MSM causes joint pain...

I now realize that msm is the culprit behind my wrist pain. I had stopped taking it about 1 year ago and I just restarted. I am taking .5 tsp. of Kala health OptiMSM.

Joint Pain
Posted by Ashley (Los Angeles, California Usa) on 01/25/2012
1 out of 5 stars

Regarding MSM, I just wanted to warn people that I have had adverse affects with it. I started taking it for joint pain (2 to 4 thousand milligrams a day) and it seemed like it was healing, until about 30 days in one of my knees started to hurt. I thought I may have just injured it slightly and didn't think anything of it. Then maybe another week and a half in my other knee (that never had any pain prior) and both my shoulders started hurting. MSM was the only thing that I had never done before that I was doing differently. I quit taking it and about a week later all of the pain was gone. I also just injured my right knee and have to question whether or not this actually made my joints worse.

Kidney Stones, Long-Term Reactions

1 User Review

Posted by Rick (Newmarket, NH) on 10/16/2018
0 out of 5 stars

Initially, MSM was the most profound remedy I had ever experienced. It gradually but successfully treated my chronic prostatitis, tendinitis, even substantially improved depression symptoms I'd lived with for a decade.

After taking 2-3 grams for almost 3 years, however, it riddled me with imbalances and complications that I have yet to recover from. initially I started passing kidney stones- not realizing the MSM could contribute to this. After reading of a few similar cases online, I stopped taking the MSM and had a brutish withdrawal period.

I broke out in full hives on my back, fever, etc. after the withdrawal, all of my original symptoms returned, but with a twist. Over time I became similarly sensitive to most anti-inflammatory herbs/nutrients. I can't even take fish oil without having reactions. My kidneys behave irregularly, I have cardiovascular involvement, and more recently significant adrenal dysfunction. I suspect I imbalanced something nutritionally from taking the sulphuric, but i've had little to no luck finding a combination of nutrients to restore the balance. Please use caution with MSM, and even if you find it to help you. PLEASE take regular breaks when using it. Do not stay on it long-term. It's been over a decade since I stopped, and I'm not certain whether I'll ever get my life back completely.


2 User Reviews

Posted by Elsa (New York, NY) on 01/03/2009
0 out of 5 stars


MSM and glucosamine in combination were extremely helpful to my lower back and hip pain (arthritis), but it triggered daily migraines, so I had to stop taking it. I can take glucosamine alone without getting the headaches.

But about arthritic pain: I have found that applying arnica gel, which I get at the health food store or from iherb, stops the pain. (It also helps prevent/reduce bruising.) I wake up with a bad backache, apply a tsp or so onto my back and hip (rubbing it in well), and can get back to sleep.

I wish I could take MSM. My husband takes it every day and has no aches or pains.

Posted by Cindy (Silver Spring, MD) on 11/07/2008
0 out of 5 stars

MSM & Migraine Headaches:

I tried MSM after reading in several places it helps w/joint deterioration & pain, & also seeing that it is a component of several glucosamine & chondroitin supplements.

Years earlier, my orthopedic surgeon (a Johns Hopkins University professor) recommended Cosamin DS (a brand of glucosamine & chondroitin w/no added MSM), which he also takes, because it's purity & dosage accuracy were verified in (independent, double blind, placebo controlled) research trials. I took the it for years w/no side effects, & w/much pain relief & improved function. I saw other brands of glucosamine & chondroitin w/MSM, which Cosamin DS does not contain.

My doctor was not opposed to my trying MSM, but he was adamant I stick w/Cosamin DS, although it costs more than most other brands. My pets' vets also insisted I use the same company's pet formulation (Cosequin) & not switch their brand. I decided to stick with it, but add in MSM separately, which my doctors did not oppose.

Within a couple of days after starting MSM, I developed a migraine. Initially mild, it worsened over the next 10 days, becoming severe. I'm prone to both muscle spasm & migraine type headaches, & can distinguish clearly between them. I didn't initially attribute the migraine to MSM, since so many other things can trigger migraines, including stress, irregular sleep, hormonal cycles (especially during peak estrogen levels), as well as certain foods/beverages, medications, smoke, fragrances, & chemical odors/fumes.
I'd learned I must stay on a preventative medication (in my case Verapamil), which enables me to avoid most migraines. With it, I can get away w/some things which otherwise trigger my migraines, including certain favorite foods (in small amounts) & unavoidable whiffs of problem scents & tobacco smoke. (See list of common migraine triggers at end, if interested).

I stayed on the MSM, regulated my sleep cycles (no late nights or sleeping in), avoided stressors, & avoided known migraine triggers--including the foods I sometimes 'cheated' on & places where I could be exposed to problem scents or smoke (malls, rest rooms, smokers, crowds, etc.). Friends & family helped by not exposing me to perfumes or scented products & staying across the room if they had tobacco smoke on their clothes.

These measures had always worked in the past, but this migraine did not lessen. An increase to the maximum dose of Verapamil did not help. I temporarily went on a diet of unprocessed foods w/simple ingredient lists, began stress reduction techniques, & avoided new medications & household or personal products, to no avail. After a 5 week period in which I should have been through a full female hormonal cycle (& into the next one) w/no reduction or fluctuation in severity of the migraine, I was concerned. By week 6 I was spending a lot of time in a dark, quiet room, & getting a little desperate. Lights were like daggers & sounds were like bomb blasts. I considered a trip to downtown Washington, DC, to see a trusted migraine specialist, but couldn't imagine making the trip.

As I looked back for what was new in my regimen since onset of the migraine, I considered the MSM. It seemed so innocuous, but it was the only truly new variable I could identify. No literature available to me at the time I first considered taking it had mentioned anything about MSM & headaches. There was little mention of side effects at all, other than sulfa allergy, at the time. I asked two pharmacists, but neither had heard of MSM triggering headaches, nor had my doctors.

It made sense to all of us that I stop the MSM immediately, but if the migraine ceased, we knew it could be coincidence. The migraine DID cease within about a week of stopping the MSM, & I went back down to my original dose of Verapamil a week later. My primary doctor suggested I just stay off MSM.

However, MSM was enough help for my joint pain that I wanted to be as sure as possible that it was not coincidence that the migraine ceased after stopping MSM. I waited a month, during which I stayed on my migraine reduction/avoidance routine & had NO migraines. Then, while continuing this routine, being careful to add in no new foods, products, medications, or other supplements, I restarted the MSM.

Unfortunately, the migraine returned again, about a week after restarting the MSM while eliminating all other variables that I could control. Of course, there were variables I could not control outside a research setting, including my own knowledge of whether I resumed taking the MSM & when. However, there have been so many times I thought things would cause me a migraine but they did not do so (or conversely I thought they would not cause a migraine but they did), that I strongly suspected the MSM was the cause of my protracted status migrainosis.

About 4 years later, I was diagnosed w/a more severe joint disease, which eventually causes destruction of the entire affected joint. With 8 major weight-bearing joints involved & few treatment options, I decided to try MSM one more time. I had been nearly migraine-free for the better part of a year. With my doctors' agreement, I went doubled my Verapamil (to the maximum dose), went back on my strict migraine avoidance/reduction routine, waited 10 days so my body had the full benefit of these measures, & restarted MSM.

This was my third trial of MSM. I took what I was told was likely the minimum effective dose. On this trial, I intentionally chose a different brand of MSM, in hope that any additive or contaminant in the first brand which might potentially have caused the first 2 migraines would not be present in this new brand.
This time, I developed a migraine 3 days after starting MSM. (Usually, things that trigger migraines in me most strongly do so overnight if ingested orally, but fragrances/fumes/smoke do so w/in minutes, via the nasal route. Things less "migrainogenic" for me take 2 to several days at 1 serving/day, but act more quickly w/several servings daily. While I wish there was an environmentally controlled, double blind, placebo-controlled study of MSM side effects, so most other variables could be eliminated, after 3 trials I consider it very likely that MSM caused my migraines, despite use of a migraine-reducing medication, & consider it likely it would do so in others who are prone to migraine headaches.

Migraine triggers:
This is somewhat individual, & doctors don't all agree on items, such as tomatoes.
-Foods: For me, migraine triggers include all foods & beverages high in tyramine (an amino acid), so I eat a low tyramine diet, eliminating or reducing foods such as tomatoes (fresh are less of a problem than tomato sauce, catsup, or paste), some fruits including bananas & all citrus fruits, a few veges & beans including avocados & fava beans, processed or organ meats including liver, hot dogs, balogna, & salami, cultured dairy products such as yogurt, buttermilk (regular milk is OK), & aged cheeses (fresh cheeses such as cottage & farmer cheeses are about all that are OK), fermented products including all alcoholic beverages (red wines are notorious), soy sauce, chocolate, monosodiumglutamate, abbreviated "MSG", (which legally can be hidden on food package ingredient lists in the U.S. under the term "natural flavoring"), etc.
-Caffeine* (including in coffee, tea, & some medications including some headache medicines)--ironically, caffeine can both help treat migraines & can trigger migraines, so avoid it unless you have a migraine already, but if you get one & have no other remedy available, it is worth a try to have a cup or two of tea.
-Estrogens in food or medicine: Foods high in natural estrogen-like compounds such as sweet potatoes & soy beans, plus medications w/estrogen (even w/low-dose estrogen, such as some birth control pills & hormone replacement therapy), & including the estrogen-like compounds now known to leach out of plastic food & beverage containers such as milk or water jugs
-NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: such as Motrin (Ibuprofen), Alleve/Naprosyn (Naproxen sodium), Feldene, Clinoril, Indocin, etc. which are said to cause a rebound effect, intially helping, but making migraine worse w/continued use (but Tylenol, which is not an NSAID, seems to be OK)
-Other medications: Variable. (According to at least one specialist, narcotic pain medications make migraines worse, though in my experience this is NOT the case if the person is on a stable, long-term dose. Rapid increases, reductions, or fluctuations in dose DO trigger migraines, in my experience.
-Smoke: Tobacco smoke(including second-hand), & other smoke including wood smoke, & incense
-Perfumes, Colognes, & Scented Products: highly individual but includes air freshener products in all forms, scented soap or laundry detergent, fabric softener, scented oils (including for aromatherapy), scented candles, scented personal products, such as shampoo, conditioner, hair spray, scented lotions, etc., & scented household cleaning products, including scented air or surface disinfectant sprays
Chemical odors: including unscented household cleaning products w/fumes, freshly printed newspapers, nail polish remover (acetone), "liquid bandages", many disinfectant sprays, moth balls, dry cleaning chemicals, gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, propane, natural gas, "bug sprays" (insecticides), "weed killers" (herbicides), fungicides, formaldehyde (including in plywood, & as preservative for animals used for dissection in biology labs such as in high schools & colleges), paint fumes, glues (white glue is usually OK), various solvents

Hint: If you smell a problem scent unexpectedly when out in public, try breathing through your mouth until out of range. If it is just a matter of a few steps to get out of range of the scent, hold your breath & walk rapidly upwind (if outside) & away. Apparently it is the short, direct route from the nasal nerves to the brain (&/or blood supply to the blood-brain barrier) which allows such rapid migraines induction from scents. When one inhales the same substance through the mouth to the lungs, avoiding nasal exposure, these substances do not seem to trigger rapid-onset migraines. They can still trigger breathing problems in those w/asthma.

Muscle Cramps, Emotional Lows

1 User Review

Posted by Marid (Noblesville, IN) on 02/21/2021
0 out of 5 stars

I started MSM a couple of weeks ago because I discontinued my Chondroitin Glucosamine, and I have been experiencing cramping in my feet and legs. I see from this article that my occasional insomnia may also be from taking my MSM later in the day when I have forgotten it in the morning. I have also recently experienced some mild emotional lows.

Pale Stools

1 User Review

Posted by Leila (Europe) on 06/16/2015
0 out of 5 stars


Recently I started taking MSM and noticed a change in the color of my stools, much paler, wondering if anyone has had the same experience or know if this is a normal reaction? Many thanks! Leila

Replied by Angela

I did have a lighter stool at the beginning but later on it was normal, so I thought I was detoxing. After four years I stopped using it because I started to have panic attacks and flashing lights.


7 User Reviews

Posted by Marsh (Colorado) on 03/13/2021
0 out of 5 stars

We purchased pure MSM in November (2020). My husband takes it daily and he feels it's helped his frozen shoulder and joints.

After the 7th day of 1/2 teaspoon MSM, I was besieged by heart palpitations. They finally began lessening in January. Made appt with cardiologist, all tests came back fine. I increased magnesium to 400mg 3x day, a banana and himalayan sea salt, which eliminated the palps.

2 days ago, I tried about 1/8 teaspoon of MSM and yup, a couple palps occurred. I think I'll try 1-2 crystals because my joints were feeling much better to see if that keeps the joints and heart happy.

Posted by Sharon (Perth, Western Australia) on 09/13/2016
0 out of 5 stars

MSM helps with my fibromyalgia but I also get heart palpitations...if I keep taking it will heart palpitations go away?

Replied by Nikit

Take potassium and magnesium.