Methylsulfonylmethane, known as MSM, is commonly utilized in the form of MSM eyedrops or powder in vcaps to be taken as a supplement. It is well known for its anti-inflammatory capacity, documented by researchers. Scientists are documenting substantiating research and finding new uses.
MSM inhibits inflammasomes, which are protein formations that stimulate production of lymphocytes (white blood cells). It also inhibits the activity of ‘pro-cytokines’ which promote inflammation throughout the body, creating health-damaging fevers and causing tissue death and shock.1 This effect of MSM is useful in reducing the tissue swelling that damages the optic nerve, causes eye soreness of dry eyes and Sjogrens syndrome and other inflammatory-related conditions.
Improves Action of Other Drugs
It is known that MSM ‘softens’ tissues by enhancing permeability making it easier for the eye to absorb nutrients and therapeutic agents6, but it also behaves as a facilitator causing other drugs to be more effective. For example, researchers investigating cancer therapies found that MSM acts synergistically with Tamoxifen, a drug used in treating breast cancer. Not only does it make Tamoxifen more effective, but it reduces the amount of the drug required.2
Another study investigated the inclusion of MSM with chemicals known to assist in fighting inflammation which cause joint pain and arthritis. They found that a combination of glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, MSM, Devil’s Claw root extract and bromelain extract were effective on arthritis in lab animals.3
Reduces Oxidative Stress
One of the qualities of MSM is that it can act like an antioxidant, reducing oxidative stress. One example is its use in treating neurological disorders that are associated with HIV. The results of this study suggest that MSM is able to reverse the tendency of the HIV-1 Tat protein which exposes nerve cells to oxidative stress.4 This research further found that MSM helps protect glutathione which in turn protects the retina from free radical damage. This research substantiates earlier studies.
Support for Exercise
Another study investigated the use of MSM in reducing oxidative stress normally experienced after strenuous exercise. Healthy young men, not particularly physically fit – at least not ‘in training’ – took either MSM or a placebo before 45 minutes on a treadmill using the standard VO2max test to assess aerobic endurance. Blood samples were taken 2 hours and 24 hours after the exercise. Pre-exercise MSM supplementation successfully lowered blood levels of protein carbonyl, an indicator of oxidative stress. It caused total antioxidant capacity of blood to be higher, and kept uric acid and bilirubin levels low (for both, high levels indicate problems).5
Inflammation & Vision
A number of vision conditions are caused by or aggravated by inflammation. For example, if the optic nerve is inflamed and swollen the condition is optic neuritis. If the macula is swollen then macular edema is diagnosed.
- H. Ahn, et al, Methylsulfonylmethane inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation, Cytokine, February, 2015.
- P. Darvin, et al, The combination of methylsulfonylmethane and tamoxifen inhibits the Jak2/STAT5b pathway and synergistically inhibits tumor growth and metastasis in ER-positive breast cancer xenografts, BMC Cancer, June, 2015.
- Y. Ucuncu, et al, Chondroprotective effects of a new glucosamine combination in rats: Gene expression, biochemical and histopathological evaluation., Life Sciences, June, 2015.
- S.H. Kim, et al, MSM ameliorates HIV-1 Tat induced neuronal oxidative stress via rebalance of the glutathione cycle, American Journal of Translational Research, February, 2015.
- B. Nakhostin-Roohi, et al, Effect of single dose administration of methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exhaustive exercise, Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, Fall, 2013.
- P. Liu, et al, Metal chelator combined with permeability enhancer ameliorates oxidative stress-associated neurodegeneration in rat eyes with elevated intraocular pressure, Free Radical Biology & Medicine, April, 2014.