MSM Side Effects and How to Avoid Them!


Posted by Ellen (London , Uk) on 04/21/2013
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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
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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.

Joint Pain

Posted by Joan (Ny) on 10/25/2016
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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.

Posted by Ashley (Los Angeles, California Usa) on 01/25/2012
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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

Posted by Rick (Newmarket, NH) on 10/16/2018
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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.


Posted by Elsa (New York, NY) on 01/03/2009
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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
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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.

Pale Stools

Posted by Leila (Europe) on 06/16/2015
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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.


Posted by Sharon (Perth, Western Australia) on 09/13/2016
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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.

Posted by Steve (Centennial, Co) on 10/29/2012
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I have been taking MSM for the past week or so. I had heart palpitations yesterday. One thing that msm appears to do is purge the body of heavy metals. I suspect it may also take with it some of the necessary minerals that are key for the electrical signaling of the heart to function properly (like some other heavy metal detoxes I have taken before). As soon as I became aware of what was happening, I took a general overall mineral supplement and the palpitations ceased immediately. I will have to monitor this point forward. Less MSM. More minerals. For detox the key is not to take them together as then it is just sweeping out the minerals you took, rather than the heavy metals deeply imbedded in fat and bones. For detox it appears there needs to be 6-8 hours in between the taking of the minerals and the taking of the msm. Hope this helps in your own research.

Posted by Karen (Seligman, Mo, Usa) on 01/15/2011
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Could someone help. This is strange. I started talking MSM a couple days ago and after second dose had palpitations and they don't stop and have been going on 24 hours now. I stopped taking MSM after it began and its still happening. Breath is hard to catch sometimes and I do not have these but maybe 2 a month and it's usually once. My BP is spiked at times and I have always had LOW LOW blood pressure. This is really creepy. I am also getting off white sugar at the same time and using brown for 4 days. So what's going on here? Don't yang about going to a Dr. If I hadn't already I wouldn't be here. They say nothing wrong but anemia.

Replied by Tom
Regina, Sk

Karen: It souns like you are having a reaction not due to allergy, but simply from the almost unique beneficial effect MSM has in greatly increasing cell membrane porosity throughout the entire body!

As such, any toxins will be mobilized in greater amounts, and that includes any Rx drugs or their metabolites.

MSM thus has the effect of amplifying the drug dose! So you have to increase the dose of MSM slowly over several weeks, and/or do not be on any Rx drugs when you do, if possible.

Drink lots of water to aid in flushing them out.

For the anemia, you are on the right track in that it can be caused by a lack of essential minerals, which can be had from things like a complete cane sugar, as near to unprocessed as possible:

To make demerara sugar, sugar producers press sugar cane and steam the juice of the first pressing to form thick cane syrup. The cane syrup is allowed to dehydrate, leaving behind large golden brown crystals of sugar. Because demerara sugar is not heavily refined, it has a rich, creamy, molasses-like flavor which enhances baked goods. The large grains also remain crunchy through cooking, which makes demerara sugar a great choice of sprinkled topping on scones and similar dishes which might otherwise have a uniform texture.

As such, you might want to move up from the "brown sugar", since it is merely white table sugar (sucrose) sprayed with molasses to turn it just dark enough!

Posted by Allmymarbles (New York, New York) on 02/02/2010
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MSM: Serious Side Effect

I started taking MSM for asthma. My husband takes it for arthritis and gets total relief. Unfortunately I reacted badly. I had developed high cortisol subsequent to using inhaled steroids (which I discontinued). The MSM drove the cortisol higher and I suffered an extremely high pulse rate, palpitations and insomnia. When I started using MSM I did not know of this side effect. So be warned. If you have high cortisol do not take this supplement. It can be very dangerous.

Replied by Steve
Spring Branch , Tx

The warning you posted wasn't because of the MSM you were taking, The warning was for the steroids that you were ingesting. These drugs have been proven to be very dangerous. MSM is not a drug, it's a element.

Replied by Peggy64
Montgomery, Al
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I don't take steroids and when I started the MSM, after a week or so, it caused me problems with elevated cortisol levels. So then, How would you explain that?

Posted by Lisa (Rockwell, NC) on 06/26/2008
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MSM WARNING: I began having heart palpitations and chest tightness & discomfort after taking MSM for 3 weeks. It did help with hip pain but I had to discontinue it because of side effects. This forum is excellent! I'm glad to know it wasn't just my imagination & that other people have had these side effects.

Panic Attacks

Posted by Diana (Florida) on 07/12/2018
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It helped with my pain but I was having panic attacks and an uneasy feeling. I eat only plants and am healthy but this was not for me. Sad about this


Posted by Rvee (Finland) on 02/28/2017
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I have used MSM powder(Doctors Best) two periods. I started with a small dose 1/4 teasp to 1 tablespoon.

It helped my back pain but what really scared me off was excess hairloss and PMS. I´m not kidding, I lost both periods on MSM half of my hair. I was really sceptical it was MSM what was causing those, but had to believe since it happened twice.

I created very sore breasts and I act like a maniac before menses so I had to get rid of MSM.

Now I´d like to know, since there is so little information of MSM and women hormone balance, what is actually causing this? My own opinion is that women with oestrogen dominance suffer the most of MSM. MSM might somehow decrease progesteron levels on pre-menopausal women. I found earlier a link about the progesterone levels and MSM, but I lost it.

Do you have any information about this?

Replied by Sdm
Northern New Jersey

I also saw hair loss but then I saw regrowth of what appeared to be thicker strands. I think MSM is a serious nutrient we do not know enough about & it appears to work differently in everyone.