Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM)
Supplement Forms/Alternate Names
Methyl sulfonyl methane (MSM) is a compound found in humans, plants, and animals. It has been used as an antioxidant to slow damage to cells and to ease swelling in muscles and joints. MSM can be applied as a cream or gel. It can also be taken as a pill or powder.
2 grams 2 to 3 times daily by mouth
What Research Shows
- Osteoarthritis —may ease pain and improve function.C1-C7
May Be Effective
- Hemorrhoids —may ease symptoms when used with hyaluronic acid and tea tree oil. A1
Unlikely to Be Effective
- Knee pain —may not ease pain.B1
Not Enough Data to Assess
- Rosacea D1
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
It is likely safe to use MSM on the skin. It is also likely safe to take MSM orally for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period or by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.
A1. Joksimovic N, Spasovski G, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of hyaluronic acid, tea tree oil and methyl-sulfonyl-methane in a new gel medical device for treatment of haemorrhoids in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Updates Surg. 2012 Sep;64(3):195-201.
B. Knee Pain
B1. Tennent DJ, Hylden CM, et al. A randomized controlled trial evaluating methylsulfonylmethane versus placebo to prevent knee pain in military initial entry trainees. US Army Med Dep J. 2017 Oct-Dec;(3-17):21-25.
C1. Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2006 Mar;14(3):286-294.
C2. Brien S, Prescott P, et al. Systematic review of the nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2008 Nov;16(11):1277-1288.
C3. Debbi EM, Agar G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011 Jun 27;11:50.
C4. Notarnicola A, Tafuri S, et al. The "MESACA" study: methylsulfonylmethane and boswellic acids in the treatment of gonarthrosis. Adv Ther. 2011 Oct;28(10):894-906.
C5. Notarnicola A, Maccagnano G, et al. Methylsulfonylmethane and boswellic acids versus glucosamine sulfate in the treatment of knee arthritis: Randomized trial. Int J Immunopathol Pharmacol. 2016 Mar;29(1):140-146.
C6. Lubis AMT, Siagian C, et al. Comparison of Glucosamine-Chondroitin Sulfate with and without Methylsulfonylmethane in Grade I-II Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Acta Med Indones. 2017 Apr;49(2):105-111.
C7. Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb;52(3):167-175.
D1. Berardesca E, Cameli N, et al. Combined effects of silymarin and methylsulfonylmethane in the management of rosacea: clinical and instrumental evaluation. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2008 Mar;7(1):8-14.
E1. Butawan M, Benjamin R, et al. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9(3):E290.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC Last Updated: 6/29/2020