otherwise known as MSM, is a colorless solid chemical that is
considered inert. Primitive plants contain it, as do certain foods
in small quantities. It has been marketed as a dietary supplement,
but there are some question marks over its effectiveness. It is also
said to be a natural source of sulphur, as the health industry tries
to verify its usefulness.
Studies of the effects of
MSM on humans and animals have yielded some interesting results.
While it is clear that a huge number of tests still need to be
carried out in order to prove that this chemical is beneficial as a
medical therapy, it is clear that it has some positive effects,
particularly in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
This is a group of diseases
that affects the joints, causing pain, stiffness and creaking. It
causes loss of cartilage, leading to damaged and exposed bone which
causes pain simply through walking. It affects 27 million people in
the United States, therefore, when something comes available that
may alleviate the pain caused, it is seized upon.
MSM has been combined with
glucosamine, a compound found naturally in the body, in healthy
cartilage. The two are fused and sold as an arthritic pain reliever.
The sulphur is believed to be the key, because it allegedly
strengthens collagen. As we will see with other tests, the effects
are inconclusive with more evidence being required.
A controlled study showed
that 1500 mg of MSM a day had positive results on knee problems
caused by osteoarthritis. However, these results are not to be taken
as concrete evidence of the healing powers of this chemical. The
researchers who conducted the experiment in India, had very little
in the way of previous experience in trials of a clinical nature.
The biggest issue with these
trials are the fact that the data is not presented with the Method,
and the data also does not correspond with the Results and
Discussion section. Statements are not supported by accurate
citations, and the difference in baseline and Placebo group results
is negligible, whereas in osteoarthritis tests there is generally an
improvement of 30% or more in the Placebo group.
Another test involved a
double-blind clinical trial involving MSM and osteoarthritis of the
knee. 25 patients took 6000 mg of the chemical everyday, with
another 25 taking a placebo, both for 12 weeks. Those who took the
sulphur reported significantly decreased pain, better physical
activity levels, and no side effects. However, there was no evidence
of an anti-inflammatory effect being found.
Even those who conducted
these tests admit that they are not conclusive evidence of the
healing properties of MSM, nor do they show any potential side
effects. They do state however, that doctors should look into using
it for particular osteoarthritis patients, and it is worthwhile to
conduct further tests as the above two are the only available tests
at this moment in time.
These tests did not prove
much other than the fact that MSM could be used in future to treat
osteoarthritis. Two fairly minor tests provide nothing like
conclusive evidence that this chemical provides genuine and welcome
relief to sufferers of joint pain. Hopefully, further tests will
prove or disprove the effectiveness of sulphur on joint pain.