MSM Benefits and Side Effects: Should You Use It?
September 14, 2021
As a bodybuilder, it’s only natural that you want to look for ways to improve your exercise recovery time without having to endure nasty side effects, right?
But how is it possible? What can you do to make it happen?
Well, one natural compound that’s popular amongst weightlifters is methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Reputed to speed up muscle recovery, reduce inflammation, and encourage muscle growth; MSM appears to have all you need.
But is it safe?
In this post, we’ll look at what is MSM, if the MSM benefits are really all that great for bodybuilders, and if you should worry about any side effects. Ready to find out?
What is MSM?
Otherwise known as methylsulfonylmethane, methyl sulfonyl methane, and crystalline DMSO; MSM is a sulfur-containing compound that naturally occurs in animals, green plants, and humans. It can also be created in a lab for use in dietary supplements.
In fact, some of the best MSM supplements are specifically designed to relieve aches and pain. It can also reduce swelling and inflammation triggered by joint issues like arthritis and osteoarthritis. On top of that, it can boost immunity and assist in the treatment of rosacea.
But that’s not all it’s good for…
One of the best MSM benefits – and the one YOU are most interested in – is its ability to speed up muscle repair after a workout.
Let’s take a look…
At this point, you’re probably wondering how a chemical compound used for osteoarthritis (of all things), is able to help bodybuilders.
Well, that’s the thing about MSM…
There is much more to it than meets the eye. So what are the benefits of MSM? Well, it’s quite an impressive list!
Decreased Joint Pain
MSM has been found to decrease joint and muscle pain in users, helping to minimize joint degeneration so you can maintain mobility and movement in your knees, back, hands, and hips.
It inhibits the breakdown of cartilage (the flexible tissue that protects the ends of your bones at the joints). This can significantly reduce inflammation and keep you flexible.
During one study on 100 people (aged over 50), when they were given 1,200mg of MSM for 12 weeks they noticed significant reductions in joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.
In addition, they experienced an overall improvement in their quality of life as they found it easier to walk.
A similar study on 32 people (with lower back pain), found that when they were given a supplement containing MSM (glucosamine), it helped to lower lumbar stiffness and pain from movement.
MSM is believed to boost glutathione levels (an antioxidant) and inhibit NF-kB (a protein complex linked to inflammatory responses), as well as decrease cytokine production which has been connected to systemic inflammation (including TNF-a and interleukin 6).
Combined, these anti-inflammatory benefits can speed up your recovery time and improve your mobility.
And those are not the only studies showing this:
- In this study, MSM was found to decrease inflammation in mice suffering from stomach ulcers by inhibiting the release of cytokines while boosting their glutathione levels.
- This study was performed on 40 physically active men. When they were given 3g of MSM before a heavy workout; they saw drops in the release of cytokines as well as increased protection of immune cells (by stopping them from becoming over-stressed).
Reduced Muscle Damage Leading to Faster Recovery Times
During exhaustive exercise, it is quite common for muscle tissues to tear and cause muscle soreness and pain (as a result of oxidative stress). MSM can help to minimize signs of inflammation and pain by raising antioxidant activity and reducing muscle damage.
As a result, not only can you get back into the gym faster, you’ll also see improvements to 1) your training and athletic performance, and 2) your muscle size and strength.
As tissues knit back together, they’ll become bigger and stronger than they were before. This means the quicker you can recover; the faster you’ll be able to bulk up.
Here’s some more scientific evidence backing up this claim:
- In one study, when 18 men were given 50mg of MSM powder per kg of their body weight (for 10 days), they saw reductions in exercise-induced muscle damage, as well as elevations in antioxidant activity after they completed a 14km run.
- A study on 16 untrained healthy men found that taking MSM supplements helped to lower biomarkers of oxidative stress after exercise. It also helped to boost antioxidants in the body.
Alleviate Arthritic Symptoms
By decreasing pain and stiffness – thanks to MSM’s anti-inflammatory properties – MSM can help to improve mobility functions in the joints of people with arthritis.
Taking 3.4g of MSM (a day) for 12 weeks helped a group of 49 people with knee osteoarthritis to experience less pain and stiffness, as well as improved physical function.
But that’s not all it can do for arthritic symptoms…
MSM is also known to enhance the effectiveness of other ingredients used to treat arthritis including glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and boswellic acid.
For instance, when MSM was combined with glucosamine and chondroitin, it helped to decrease the pain and stiffness of participants more than glucosamine and chondroitin did when they were used on their own.
And here are some more interesting research findings:
- Taking MSM with boswellic acid for 60 days might reduce the need for anti-inflammatory drugs (but not eliminate pain).
- Taking MSM with boswellic acid and Vitamin C for 60 days may decrease pain and increase your walking distance. NOTE: may last for 4 months after you stop.
- Taking a product containing MSM (by mouth) for 12 weeks can improve joint pain and tenderness for those with osteoarthritis.
- A study consisting of 100 participants with hip or knee osteoarthritis found that taking 6g of MSM supplements for 26 weeks encouraged improvements to their arthritic symptoms.
Relieve Allergy Symptoms
Another benefit of MSM being able to reduce inflammation is it providing relief from allergy symptoms.
You see, allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction – caused by exposure to animal dander, pollen, and molds – that stimulates the release of prostaglandins and cytokines that can trigger watery eyes, sneezing, itching, and a runny nose.
MSM however, can help to minimize this allergic reaction; lower inflammation, and decrease your symptoms, by inhibiting the release of cytokines and prostaglandins.
For example, one study found that when 50 people with allergic rhinitis were given 2,600mg of MSM per day over 30 days; they saw reductions in itching, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, sneezing and coughing. At the same time, they witnessed boosts in energy after 14 days.
Your immune system is influenced by a network of tissues, cells, and organs and is designed to protect you from illnesses and disease. Yet, simple things such as stress, a poor diet, lack of sleep, and inactivity can weaken it.
According to studies, the sulfur compounds in MSM can help to elevate your immunity by lowering oxidative stress and decreasing the presence of inflammatory compounds such as IL-6 and TNF-a.
It can also assist in creating glutathione (an antioxidant) which is essential for a healthy immune system.
Improved Skin Health
MSM can benefit your skin by acting as a sulfur donor to keratin (a protein that forms the main structural part of your hair, skin and nails).
By supporting keratin (which contains high levels of sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine) and strengthening this protein, MSM can protect you from damaged skin cells and premature aging. In addition, it can assist with rosacea, skin redness, and irritation.
Research has found that MSM may be effective at fighting cancer cells. During a number of test-tube studies, MSM was seen to prevent the growth of stomach, liver, colon, skin, and bladder cancer cells by damaging cancer cell DNA and stimulating cancer cell death.
It has also been seen to stop the spread of cancer cells.
MSM side effects
As a whole, MSM is considered safe, it’s got a GRAS designation from the FDA, and is believed to potentially only cause minimal side effects (when taken in excess).
This means as long as you use it responsibly – doses of 4.8g per day have been found to be safe if taken for up to 3 months – you can confidently take MSM supplements and achieve the results you want.
So what if you take too much?
Now, if you find yourself in a situation where you have taken too much MSM, then you can expect the following MSM side effects:
- Diarrhea (common amongst those taking blood thinners)
- Skin and eye irritation (if applied to the skin as a cream)
How to use safely
Research suggests as long as you stick to 3g of MSM per day – whether that is in capsules, powders, or creams – and only take it for a max. of 3 months, you shouldn’t experience any serious side effects.
How to use MSM
MSM comes in various forms but most popularly you can access it as the following:
On its own or blended with other ingredients, MSM powders are used for many of the MSM benefits we mentioned earlier. For example, taking 3g of MSM powder can provide relief from allergic reactions, joint pain, and osteoarthritis.
For osteoarthritis, you can use 1.5-6g of MSM daily (split over 3 doses) for up to 12 weeks. If MSM powder is paired with other ingredients such as boswellic acid, then you should amend it to 5g of MSM with 7.2mg of boswellic acid and take daily for 60 days.
MSM creams are typically used to treat skin allergies such as rosacea and redness.
As such we recommend that you book an appointment with a dermatologist first and that you always read the label to see how much MSM it contains and how often you should apply it.
The best MSM supplements differ from regular MSM capsules as their ingredients have been tailored to treat specific conditions.
For example, you will encounter some whose sole purpose is to reduce allergies and inflammation. However, there are others who prefer to utilize MSM’s natural health benefits to boost athletic performance and muscle recovery.
Take CrazyBulk’s muscle-building formula D-Bal. They have harnessed MSM’s ability to reduce muscle soreness and have paired it with other proven ingredients – ashwagandha, hyaluronic acid, etc. – to help their customers to build muscle fast; increase their strength; improve their recovery time; speed up bone and tendon healing; boost the availability of free testosterone; lower cholesterol, and strip their bodies of body fat.
Simply take 3 capsules a day 45 minutes before your workout, and within a minimum of 2 months you’ll start to see positive results with none of the side effects commonly associated with steroids.
For more information about this dietary supplement, check out D-Bal by CrazyBulk.
There’s no denying that MSM benefits are numerous and very appealing. However, for optimum results, you shouldn’t rely on MSM alone.
True, it has got strong connections to inflammation reduction, faster muscle recovery times, and an ability to bolster your athletic performance, but you need more than this to pack on muscle.
CrazyBulk’s D-Bal formulation harnesses the positive properties of MSM with ashwagandha and hyaluronic acid to help bulk you up, heal faster (bones and tendons), and raise your testosterone levels so you can achieve the physique you want.
So if you dream of a leaner, fitter body, why not consider D-Bal instead of MSM on its own?