MSM Treatment for Arthritis

Methyl sulfonyl methane, or MSM, is a chemical compound that occurs naturally in many foods. It is related to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) which has been a longstanding home remedy for arthritis. According to NYU Langone Medical Center, DMSO breaks down into MSM in the body which has led medical researchers to question if MSM might be a preferable treatment for arthritis.


MSM is a sulfur compound found in seafood, meat, coffee, chocolate, milk, fruit, garlic, onions and other vegetables. MSM is also available as a supplement. You can buy it in capsule form, as a powder, liquid or skin cream. It is often found in combination with two other arthritis supplements, glucosamine and chondroitin. A study by the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that 6,000 mg of MSM provided pain relief to people with arthritis of the knee and had no ill side effects.


Since MSM is a compound found in food, it is thought to be safe even in high doses. No adverse side effects are known, but it is not known if MSM is safe to administer to pregnant women or children. It is not known if MSM interacts with other medications. You should talk to your doctor before taking MSM supplements if you are taking prescription medication.

MSM Creams

It is not clear if MSM can be readily absorbed through the skin like DMSO can. Creams and lotions that contain MSM may not be effective. If you use DMSO cream to obtain MSM, you should use caution. DMSO is a chemical by-product that may contain impurities. Do not use industrial-grade DMSO. Do not take DMSO internally as this can cause serious side effects. Possible side effects from DMSO include dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and skin irritation.


Much controversy surrounds the use of MSM. It has not been proven to be effective even though it has popular support as an arthritis treatment. The Arthritis Foundation recommends you buy MSM from an established and reputable seller and suggests you start with a dose of 500 mg twice daily and increase the amount until you see an effect. It may take up to 2 months to see results. At higher doses, you may experience stomach upsets or cramps that may be alleviated by lowering the dose. If you want to use DMSO, the Arthritis Foundation recommends you ask your doctor for a medical grade source because industrial grade is commonly offered to the general public.

Methyl sulfonyl methane