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Could MSM be a natural rheumatoid arthritis remedy?

Rheumatoid arthritis: the Australian data

Arthritis – the official name for painful, inflamed joint conditions – affects nearly 4 million Australians1.  Although it can take nearly 100 different forms, the two most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s immune system mistakes normal tissue for invading pathogens, and starts to attack it.  It tends to target joint cartilage lining first, but if left untreated, can actually begin to damage both cartilage and bone.  Rheumatoid arthritis causes joint inflammation, redness, heat and pain – as well as more systemic symptoms like fatigue and sleeping difficulties.

What is MSM and why is it important?

Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (also called MSM or Dimethyl Sulfone) is a natural, organic source of bioavailable Sulfur.

You can find trace amounts of MSM in most fresh raw, unprocessed foods. However, exact levels in a given plant-food will depend on the Sulfur content of the soil in which it grew.  Animal products tend to contain more MSM, but again, levels can vary.

The Sulfur we get from MSM plays an essential role in maintaining healthy bones, hair, skin and connective tissue (i.e. cartilage, tendons and ligaments).  It also supports strong, resilient joint cartilage by helping to form the bonds that link connective tissue building blocks.

Why MSM may help with rheumatoid arthritis

Although several natural joint pain remedies have been shown to help relieve osteoarthritis symptoms, few seem to assist with rheumatoid arthritis.  This may be because, although many of the symptoms are similar, the two conditions have very different causes.  Osteoarthritis occurs because joint cartilage starts to break down faster than the body can repair it, while rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory auto-immune condition.

Few studies directly explore MSM’s effectiveness with rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.  However, research has revealed certain properties of MSM that may help to relieve the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis:

  • MSM has natural anti-inflammatory properties that may help to relieve joint soreness, stiffness and swelling
  • MSM also has strong antioxidant properties, and Sulfur helps your body to form one of its most powerful antioxidants, glutathione
  • Finally, MSM supports tissue healing, and may assist with healing joint tissue has been damaged by long-term inflammation

Where can you find MSM and how much should you take?

As mentioned above, several fresh, raw foods contain small amounts of MSM. However, exact levels can vary considerably, and MSM breaks down in heat, which means cooking or processing food can destroy it.  This is why supplementing can often be helpful.

MSM is available on the shelves of most good health food stores as an easy-mixing powder, or in convenient capsules.  Try taking 1-2g daily for 2-6 weeks and see whether it helps with your symptoms.

Please note that if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or you take prescription medication of any kind, you should speak to your doctor before taking MSM.

1http://www.arthritisaustralia.com.au/index.php/arthritis-information/what-is-arthritis.html