The MSM Movement

Americans-middle-aged and older-are moving and shaking. Since osteoarthritis (the most common form of joint inflammation) is a leading cause of long-term disability among this group, a safe, natural approach to arthritis relief is altogether welcome. Methylsulfonyl-methane (MSM), a naturally occurring sulfur compound, joins the well-known duo glucosamine and chondroitin in supporting joint function. But that's not the only benefit MSM offers movers and shakers.

No Pain
Several scientific trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of MSM. One study compared glucosamine, MSM, and a combination of the two supplements to a placebo in men and women with mild to moderate osteoarthritis. After three months, individuals taking MSM reported significantly less pain and swelling, while those using the combination of glucosamine and MSM experienced an even faster and greater relief from discomfort and inflammation. A new pilot clinical trial among adults with osteoarthritis of the knee found that MSM (3 grams twice daily for three months) significantly reduced pain and improved physical function, along with the ability to perform daily activities.

Active people of all ages can benefit from MSM, which helps alleviate post-workout muscle soreness or chronic tendonitis. "Many athletes report that their soreness drops by as much as 40 percent when they take MSM," writes professional body builder and health and fitness author Dave Tuttle in User's Guide to Nutritional Supplements.

Looking Good
Experts attribute MSM's success to the fact that it is a bioavailable source of the essential nutrient sulfur. Found in all tissues, sulfur is necessary for new cell formation and helps the body fight free-radical damage and toxicity. It is also a constituent of keratin and collagen, substances in hair, nails, and skin. "MSM has been shown not only to enhance the beauty of skin, nails, and hair, but also to help skin healing (for instance after burns or wounds), acne, allergies, arthritis, and much more," says nutritionist Patrick Holford.

Detox and More
After the inevitable holiday excesses, consider detoxifying supplements. Holford recommends MSM (2 grams daily) to support the cleansing process in the liver, in addition to a multivitamin/mineral, vitamin C, and an antioxidant complex.

MSM also appears to ease heartburn and migraines while boosting immune function. Since MSM in foods (including fresh fish, meat, milk, and fruit) is often destroyed by even moderate processing, most people can benefit from supplementation.

selected sources "Efficacy of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in Osteoarthritis Pain of the Knee: A Pilot Clinical Trial" by L. S. Kim et al., Osteoarthritis Cartilage, 3/06  MSM: The Definitive Guide by Stanley W. Jacob, MD, FACS, and Jeremy Appleton, ND ($16, Freedom Press, 2003)   "Randomised, Double-blind, Parallel, Placebo-controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine, Methylsulfonylmethane and Their Combination in Osteoarthritis" by P. R. Usha and M. U. R. Naidu, Clin Drug Invest, 2004  The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford ($19.95, Crossing Press, 2004)  User's Guide to Nutritional Supplements by Jack Challem, ed. ($19.95, Basic Health, 2003)

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