MSM — How Much to Take? What About Adverse Reactions?

. . . answers to frequent questions about MSM

There are some compelling reasons to add MSM to your supplement protocol, especially if you’re dealing with pain and/or inflammation. MSM is also an excellent source of sulfur, known as the “beauty mineral.” Sulfur provides support for strong, thick, lustrous hair; a complexion free from blemishes and wrinkles; and nails that are strong without being brittle. In addition, MSM promotes detoxification.

For more on what MSM can do for you see my article on MSM in our website Article Archives.

But how much should you take? And what about the possibility of adverse reactions?

One 500 mg capsule a day is good insurance for most people to prevent sulfur deficiency and support construction of healthy connective tissues, detoxification, and beautiful, strong hair, skin and nails.

Treating specific health problems can require anywhere from 1,000-6,000 mg a day (and higher doses under professional supervision) depending on body size, age and severity of symptoms. MSM is particularly good for symptom-relief related to allergies, asthma, athletic injuries, arthritis (and any other “-itis” — “‘itis” indicates inflammation), cancer, digestion, lung disease, and lupus, and for skin problems such as acne, sunburn, dermatitis, and scars. Reduction in symptoms is usually seen within 2 to 21 days.

For osteoarthritis, combining MSM with glucosamine sulfate (see our Joint Support Formula), has been shown to work better than either alone in reducing pain and inflammation, and in increasing joint function.

For many people, MSM has been a miracle — an answer to their prayers. But adverse reactions, especially at the beginning, prevent others from staying with it long enough to get MSM’s benefits.

MSM is very safe. Animal toxicity studies have shown it’s as safe as pure water, and there are no reported allergic responses to it in the medical literature. However “mild adverse reactions” are common. According to anecdotal reports, these stop when MSM is discontinued.

Many adverse reactions are probably to impurities in the MSM, not to the MSM itself. But uncomfortable reactions are common with even the purest MSM. (To my knowledge, our MSM is the purest on the market.) This is because MSM is a potent detoxifier. It dissolves many compounds, reacts with certain toxins and greatly facilitates elimination of toxic wastes from the cells. Detoxing too fast can produce a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, such as nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, insomnia, depression or anxiety, skin eruptions, itching, the worsening of allergy symptoms and even palpitations. Reactions, if there are any, tend to be quite individual. If you’re prone to getting headaches, MSM may cause headache; if you tend to experience insomnia, MSM may lead to insomnia; and the same with other potential reactions.

With any new supplement, it’s wise to start out with a small dose and build up gradually, and this is particularly true with MSM. Start out with half a capsule (250 mg) for several days to see how you do with it before adding more. If you’re very sick, very toxic, or know you are extremely sensitive, begin with even less.

If you experience really uncomfortable detox symptoms it is an important message from your body that it is being asked to do more than it can handle. Reduce or stop the MSM completely. Drink plenty of water and take extra vitamin C to help clear the symptoms. When you’ve recovered, you can start the MSM again, slowly and cautiously.

Some people are allergic to sulfa drugs and avoid MSM because it contains sulfur, unaware that they inevitably ingest small amounts of sulfur daily in the food they eat without any problem. The chemistry of MSM and sulfur are quite different from the chemistry in sulfa drugs. If you are allergic to sulfa drugs, could you possibly react to MSM? Although it’s possible, there are people who are allergic to sulfa drugs who do just fine on MSM, and it’s more likely you are experiencing detox reactions.

Some gastrointestinal symptoms can be alleviated by taking MSM with food. Taking MSM early in the day can prevent problems with insomnia.

There are no known drug interactions with MSM, although MSM can release old drugs stored in your body fat and may make drugs you are already taking more effective so that you need less. Although concerns have been raised about MSM as a possible blood-thinner, in at least one clinical trial, 6,000 mg (6 grams) daily had no blood thinning effects.

Long-term studies on the effects of large doses of MSM have not been done. It is best used for symptom relief and as part of a complete program to repair tissue and address the underlying causes of disease.

Although you may have no problems with MSM whatsoever, if you should, it is well worth some extra effort and putting up with some bumps along the road to find a dose that’s comfortable for you. MSM is one of our less expensive supplements ($19.95 for 150 500-mg capsules) and it offers some very big rewards for your persistence.

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