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  • Home  > Articles on Health  > MSM



    "We have MSM!" scream health-food store windows. Inside the store, salesclerks and further advertising tout the benefits of this new dietary supplement:

    • You hear, "MSM helps osteoarthritis."
      You read, "MSM results in less muscle ache after a workout."
      You are told, "MSM reduces wrinkles."
    Are these statements true, or just marketing hype?

    MSM—methylsulfonylmethane—is naturally present in foods and the human body. It is a biologically active form of the mineral sulfur, which is the fourth most plentiful mineral in the body and is found in every cell of the body. Sulfur plays a particularly important role in tissue structure.

    The formation of MSM begins when marine algae release sulfur compounds that are transformed in ocean water into a substance known as dimethyl sulfide (DMS). DMS rises into the atmosphere where it is transformed into dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and MSM. These compounds are returned to the earth via rainwater, where they are absorbed by plants.

    Osteoarthritis and pain relief

    MSM does appear to give relief to those suffering from osteoarthritis and other types of joint and muscular pain. Stanley W. Jacob, M.D., and Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., in their book The Miracle of MSM, recount that many of their patients found relief with MSM. They believe that MSM helps osteoarthritis by reducing pain and possibly slowing cartilage degeneration.

    They note that MSM may provide pain relief because 1) it inhibits pain impulses along a major nervous system network known as C fibers. These fibers carry pain messages from the site of the pain to the brain; 2) it reduces inflammation, which puts pressure on nerves and other tissues and causes pain; 3) it promotes blood flow, which helps in healing; and 4) it reduces muscle spasms, which are often found in painful conditions.

    Although Jacob and Lawrence give no reason for how sulfur in MSM is used by the body to combat cartilage degeneration, they believe that it may contribute to the maintenance of cartilage and joints. Their own clinical observations may indicate this. They found that adding MSM to glucosamine, which is frequently used for osteoarthritis and does help maintain cartilage, results in even less pain and a greater feeling of well-being.

    One well-known nutritionist, Earl Mindell, Ph.D., has a different idea on this. In his book, The MSM Miracle, he notes that MSM may relieve pain by making cells more flexible and permeable. These qualities help equalize a pressure differential involved in pain. He notes that when pressure outside the cell drops, cells inflate and become inflamed. Nerves then register the inflammation and we feel pain. MSM has been shown to add flexibility to cell walls while allowing toxins to exit and nutrients to enter the cell. This softens the tissue and helps to equalize pressure buildup that results in inflammation and pain.

    Jacobs and Lawrence, although agreeing with Mindell on the benefits of MSM, are not yet ready to champion the role of MSM in increased cell permeability. They note that although cell permeability is a function of DMSO, and that MSM is a derivative of DSMO, there is no evidence that MSM has this function.

    Whatever the mechanism, people who have studied MSM and others who have used MSM all agree that there is no doubt that MSM helps relieve joint pain.

    MSM and sore muscles

    Another benefit noted by Jacobs and Lawrence as well as Mindell is that MSM helps with muscle aches after exercise. Jacobs and Lawrence give several examples of athletes and those involved in fitness using MSM to eliminate muscle soreness after a workout or to decrease the length of time muscles are sore. Although Jacobs and Lawrence do not say why this might happen, Mindell once again puts forth his idea of cell permeability. Again, those who have used MSM in their sport and recreational activities have no doubt that it does indeed provide benefits.

    MSM and wrinkles

    The world would love to believe that MSM can reduce wrinkles. However, this is not quite true.

    One definite benefit of MSM is its effect on the skin—it makes the skin softer—and this may soften wrinkle lines. This softening effect is probably due to the sulfur content of MSM. Sulfur is necessary for collagen, the primary constituent of cartilage and connective tissue. According to Mindell, MSM is responsible for flexible bonds between cells, including those in skin. It also acts to block something called “cross-linking,” which is associated with tough, aging skin. With sufficient MSM, skin becomes softer, smoother, and more flexible.

    Boswellian extract

    Unlike MSM, boswellin extract has not yet entered the nutrition radar screen. You don’t see it being hyped in health-food stores, and most probably don’t know what it is. But being unknown does not mean being ineffective, and boswellin extract actually has a longer history of use than MSM.

    Boswellia serrata (Indian frankincense) has been used for centuries in the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine to maintain healthy joints. Boswellic acids improve blood supply to the joints and maintain the integrity of blood vessels. At least one study has indicated that they may open up collateral blood circulation to provide adequate blood supply to the joints.

    Boswellic acids have been known to reduce joint swelling, maintain blood supply to inflamed joints, maintain mobility, and reduce pain and stiffness in joints. They also have no side effects.

    Boswellic acids appear to have anti-inflammatory effects because they inhibit an enzyme that is responsible for the manufacture of leukotrienes. Leukotrienes increase blood vessel permeability, which in turn results in the swelling and tenderness that characterizes inflammation.

    According to Muhammed Majeed, et. al, in Boswellin, the Anti-inflammatory Phytonutrient, boswellic acids have been tested in both animal trials and human trials with positive results. In animal studies, they have been shown to reduce the number of glycosaminoglycans, which are integral in building tissue that supports joints.

    Again according to Majeed, there have been a number of studies using boswellic acids in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In three studies noted, the boswellic acid provided relief from morning stiffness in one, and lowered the arthritic score by about 50 percent in the other two.

    MSM and boswellin extract sound good, don’t they? What do you suppose happens when these two new kids are combined with glucosamine? Hmm.

    This article is reproduced from Partner's Magazine with the permission of AIM International

    AIM Frame Essentials - glucosamine supplement
    Combines a glucosamine complex with boswellin extract and MSM, helps maintain healthy joints.
    Size: 120 tablets
    Code: 2129-USD
    Retail: USD$ 34.00
    Add to cart to see special price


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