Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – Studies show benefits for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

Studies of MSM have suggested some benefits, particularly for treatment of osteoarthritis.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO2. It is also known by several other names including DMSO2, methyl sulfone, and dimethyl sulfone.[1] This colorless solid features the sulfonyl functional group and is considered relatively inert chemically. It occurs naturally in some primitive plants and is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages and it is marketed as a dietary supplement.


Evidence from clinical trials

Small-scale studies of possible treatments with MSM have been conducted on both animals and humans. These studies of MSM have suggested some benefits, particularly for treatment of osteoarthritis.


A review by S. Brien, P. Prescott, N. Bashir, H. Lewith and G. Lewith of the two small randomized controlled trials of methylsulfonylmethane in osteoarthritis knee pain relief[11][12] “reported significant improvement in pain outcomes in the treatment group compared to comparator treatments; however, methodological issues and concerns over optimal dosage and treatment period were highlighted.”[13]

The two trials included only 168 people, of whom 52 actually received the drug, so the review authors are careful to state: “No definitive conclusion can currently be drawn” and there is no “definitive evidence that MSM is superior to placebo in the treatment of mild to moderate osteoarthritis of the knee.”[13] While one of the two studies suggests that taking MSM for 12 weeks or less may be safe, “further research is needed to assess its safety for long-term use.”[14] Side effects of MSM ingestion include stomach upset, diarrhoea and headache.[14] In the absence of studies into dosage, longer-term safety and definitive efficacy trials, MSM must be considered experimental and should not be self-administered or prescribed outside clinical trials.[14]

After several reports that MSM helped arthritis in animal models, one study by P.R. Usha et al. had suggested that 1.5 g per day MSM (alone or in combination with glucosamine sulfate) was helpful in relieving symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.[12] The Usha clinical trial, however, was outsourced to India and conducted by researchers with little prior experience in clinical trials; tests were described without associated data, while some results were unsupported by the data that was shown. K.S. Jayaraman has warned that such outsourcing of clinical trials can be “rash” and “risky,” citing deficient ethics committees as well as an unethical approach to patient recruitment.[15]

Kim et al. conducted a second clinical trial of MSM for treatment of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Twenty-five patients took 6 g/day MSM and 25 patients took a placebo for 12 weeks. Ten patients did not complete the study, and intention to treat analysis was performed. Patients who took MSM reported reduced pain and improved physical function, but no evidence was found of a more general anti-inflammatory effect; there were no significant changes in two measures of systemic inflammation: C-reactive protein level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.[11] Not counting an unpublished, no-control group trial by Lawrence, these two articles are the only clinical-trial support for MSM for osteoarthritis.


About Dr. Timothy Durnin

Dr. Durnin is the owner of Lansing Chiropractic Clinic and Wellness Medical, S.C. He is a second generation Chiropractic Physician with over 27 years of clinical experience. Presently serving as co-admitting staff at Olympia Fields Osteopathic Hospital, (Now St. James Olympia Fields), for several years and writing many newspaper articles on wide ranges of neuromusculoskeletal pathologies and treatments, he is now in private practice serving the needs of south Chicago. He has been featured in many local newspapers for his extensive knowledge in neuromusculoskeletal disorders. He is a member: Phi Theta Kappa honorary fraternity, American Chiropractic Association, American Association of Spine Physicians, Illinois Chiropractic Society, Who's Who in America, Presidential Cabinet Member of the National Univerisity of Health Sciences and Board Certified in AMA Impairment Ratings, Medical Director Life extension Laser and a member of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce. Dr. Durnin is also a member of over 40 Qualified Credentialed Health Plans.
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1 Response to Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) – Studies show benefits for the treatment of osteoarthritis.

  1. Robert says:

    MSM is closely related to DMSO except that DMSO has only one oxygen(much more active than the pair found in MSM) and is more quick to donate this Oxygen to Oxygen Depleted /Acidic/Anaerobic Tissue. MSM and DMSO form a Bio-Oxative transport system within the body, they are both small molecules and highly hydrophilic, that is until the oxygen has been donated. At that point hydrophobic Hydrogen Sulphide is left and tries to escape the aqueous body near any air interface it can. Also recent research is suggesting hydrogen sulphiode is essential for good brain and neurological health and researches are looking for ways to enhance the bodies own production of it, or perhaps you could simpley supplement with MSM.


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