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MSM -- The Healing Sulfur

A Feel 21, Inc. Health Report

In the Victorian era, natural sulfur springs were found to bestow tremendous rejuvenative properties; spas and fountains sprang up and it became all the rage to visit and partake in the healing, but foul-smelling, waters. Many of these fountains can still be visited, where the earth-cooled and refreshing waters can still be drunk -- albeit with one's nose held firmly.

That odor indicates the strong presence of the mineral sulfur; and a cousin, methylsulfonylmethane -- MSM -- can also heal quite nicely and conveniently.

MSM, explain Stanley Jacob, MD, Ronald Lawrence, MD, PhD and Martin Zucker, authors of The Miracle of MSM, is made from DMSO, which is commonly used for the relief of arthritis and other problems such as muscle and skeletal disorders and even acute head and spinal cord trauma. "MSM deliver many of the remarkable healing properties of DMSO -- but with out the annoying odor of DMSO," they write. "MSM is a source of sulfur, a mineral element critical to the normal function and structure of the body. Sulfur is a raw material for the protein and connective tissue that makes up our body mass."

Earl Mindell, RPh, PhD and Milissa Block, MPh, in their book Earl Mindell's Arthritis: What You Need To Know, assert that methysulfonylmethane's potential uses are numerous -- "it relieves pain and inflammation, improves blood flow by dilating blood vessels, reduces formation of scar tissue, improves health of skin, hair and nails, helps normalize the immune system, reduces muscle spasms and even has some anti-parasite activity."

In their book, Arthritis, an Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide,authors Eugene Zampieron, ND, AHG, and Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, HNC point out that although MSM is produced in the body, as with most everything else, levels decline with age. MSM levels are also adversely affected by degenerative diseases such as arthritis, and poor dietary habits. "Supplementing with MSM can reduce inflammation and scar tissue, relieve pain, increase blood flow for improved exchange of nutrients, reduce muscle spasms, promote peristalsis, increase cell-wall flexibility, and reduce allergic reactions," they write.

MSM, describe Mindell and Block, is theorized to alleviate arthritis pain and inflammation through several mechanisms of action:

  • Reduces muscle spasms around arthritic joints. "Muscle spasm occurs in damaged joints as they try to protect themselves from further damage and these knots can contribute a great deal to joint pain," they write.
  • Relieves inflammation by providing a sensitizing effect to cortisol, an anti-inflammatory chemical produced by the body. Patients who use MSM (or DMSO) don't need as much cortisone.
  • Provides sulfur molecule for collagen manufacture. "Without adequate sulfur, the body can't repair the damage that happens naturally with daily wear and tear, or the accelerated damage seen in arthritis," explain Mindell and Block."
  • Inhibits the nerve impulses that deliver pain messages to the brain.

Zampieron and Kamhi write that MSM has special significance for those with rheumatoid arthritis, as this source of biologically active sulfur can help stabilize the immune system and thereby reduce the autoimmune response.

Intestinal Relief

For those suffering from inflammatory bowel conditions, which are said to be quite common, MSM can help ease the discomfort and help normalize bowel function. Inflammatory bowel conditions include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. "Oral MSM helps relieve inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Crohn's usually affects the lower segment of the small intestine, causing both severe pain and diarrhea," explain Jacob, Lawrence and Zucker. "The diarrhea, in turn, leads to painful irritation and inflammation in the perineal are between the anus and the genitals. MSM helps reduce the inflammation in the gut, which will lessen pain and diarrhea."

Allergy sufferers can also obtain relief from MSM. Allergic reactions frequently are related to inflammation. Jacob, Lawrence and Zucker attribute the efficacy of MSM in allergies to its ability to block "the receptivity of histamine in sensitive tissues, such as the mucous membranes of the nasal passages. This action is something like shutting the cell door and preventing entry to histamine."

Also, MSM may provide necessary sulfur for antibody production to combat germs and allergens, as well as for producing enzymes that counteract inflammation.

Recommended dosage varies. Mindell and Block assert that the recommended oral dosage of MSM is between 1,800 mg and 9,000 mg daily in three divide doses. "Start with the lowest dose and work up slowly adding 300 mg each time you increase the dose," they advise.

Zampieron and Kamhi, however, write that the typical recommended dose of MSM is between 500 and 1,000 mg daily. "Under a doctor's supervision, therapeutic amounts may be prescribed," they add.

"Healthy Shopper" is reprinted with permission from Vitamin Retailer magazine and is provided for educational purposes only by your local retailer. No part of this article is intended as medical advice. Always consult your health care provider for any medical problems.

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If you have or suspect an illness or have a health concern, always consult with your physician or health care provider. We have used our best judgment in compiling this information, however, the information presented may not have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any reference to a specific product is for your information only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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