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For more information, go to www.arthritisresearchuk.org

MSM

Back to Complementary medicines for osteoarthritis

MSM classification

MSM is rich in organic sulphur, an important ‘building block’ for healthy bones and joints, and it’s very useful for your immune system. Available evidence from short-term RCTs shows that MSM may have a moderate effect in improving joint pain and swelling as well as general functional wellbeing in people with osteoarthritis. In one trial this effect was greater when MSM was combined with glucosamine.

What is it?

Family: Organic sulphur (nutritional mineral)
Scientific name: Methylsulfonylmethane
Other names: OptiMSM®

Methylsulfonylmethane is a sulphur (a chemical) found in fresh raw foods including fruits, vegetables and meat. The compound used to treat diseases, MSM, is a white crystalline substance that contains 34% sulphur. You can buy it from high-street shops.

How does it work?

Laboratory studies have found that MSM has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Sulphur, which is a major component of MSM, plays an important role in making collagen and glucosamine, both of which are vital for healthy bones and joints, and in the production of immunoglobulins, which help your immune system.

Is it safe?

Evidence suggests that MSM is well tolerated as a short-term treatment, even with high doses. A daily dose of 1,500 mg per day for up to three months was used in one RCT in participants with osteoarthritis, but doses up to 2,600 mg per day have been used in non-RCT studies.

Only mild side-effects have been reported, the most common of which was gastrointestinal discomfort. The long-term side-effects of MSM haven’t yet been studied.

There are no well-known interactions but MSM has been reported to improve the effect of glucosamine in reducing pain and swelling in osteoarthritis.

MSM trials for osteoarthritis

A summary of trial evidence for this complementary medicine.

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