Are there any adverse effects from long-term use of MSM for arthritis pain?
Answer From Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
That's not an easy question to answer because there's not a lot of research on the long-term effects of the dietary supplement called methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is formed using dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organic form of sulfur that's also used as a dietary supplement.
Animals observed for 90 days on a daily dose of MSM five to seven times greater than what's typically used in people had no serious problems. Stomach upset, diarrhea and headache have been reported in human trials of MSM lasting up to 12 weeks. However, people taking a placebo also reported similar symptoms.
Since little is known about the long-term safety of MSM, it's no surprise that the efficacy also is unclear. Some studies have shown slight improvements in arthritis symptoms, but these studies were small and short term, so no definitive conclusions can be made.
Although there is great interest in using MSM to treat a variety of conditions, including arthritis, more research is needed to determine its benefits and risks.
July 11, 2020
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Methylsulfonylmethane. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed June 15, 2017.
- Brien S, et al. Meta-analysis of the related nutritional supplements dimethyl sulfoxide and methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:528403.
- Dietary supplements for osteoarthritis: What the science says. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/providers/digest/osteoarthritis-supplements-science. Accessed June 20, 2017.
- Butawan M. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and safety of a novel dietary supplement. Nutrients. 2017;9:e290.
- Panush RS. Complementary and alternative remedies for rheumatic disorders. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 20, 2017.
- Debbi EM, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: A randomized controlled study. Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;11:50.