What is MSM?



General properties



Systematic name


Other names

methyl sulfone

Chemical formula


Molecular formula




Molar mass

94.13 g/mol


white crystalline solid

CAS number



Density and phase

 ? g/cm3, ?

Solubility in water


Melting point

109 °C (382 K)

Boiling point

238 °C (511 K)


 ? cP at ? °C



External MSDS

Main hazards

None Known


Flash point

143 °C

R/S statement

S: 24/25

Related compounds

Related sulfones


Related compounds

dimethyl sulfide

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for
materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM, or dimethylsulfone) is an organic sulfur compound

belonging to a class of chemicals known as sulfones. It is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO2. It occurs naturally in some primitive plants and is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages.

MSM is also known as dimethylsulfone, or DMSO2, a name that reflects its close chemical relationship to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), which differs only in the oxidation state of the sulfur atom. MSM is the primary metabolite of DMSO in humans, and it shares some of the properties of DMSO.

MSM is sold as a dietary supplement that is marketed with a variety of claims and is commonly used (often in combination with glucosamine and/or chondroitin) for helping to treat or prevent osteoarthritis. Retail sales of MSM as a single ingredient in dietary supplements amounted to $115 million in 2003. However, clinical research on the medical use of the chemical in people is limited to a few pilot studies that have suggested beneficial effects.

MSM is a natural source of sulfur, used in the supplement and health food industry.


Dr. Stanley W. Jacob administered MSM to over 18,000 patients with a variety of ailments; he co-authored a book promoting MSM with a variety of claims, including its supposed utility as a natural source of "biologically active sulfur," suggesting that people are deficient in such forms of sulfur in their dietary intake. Dietary sulphur is readily available in onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables and in protein-containing foods, including nuts, seeds, milk and eggs.


Evidence from clinical trials


After several reports that MSM helped arthritis in animal models, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study suggested that 1500 mg per day MSM (alone or in combination with glucosamine sulfate) was helpful in relieving symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Kim et al. then conducted a double-blind clinical trial of MSM for treatment of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Twenty-five patients took 6 g/day MSM and 25 patients took a placebo for 12 weeks. Ten patients did not complete the study, and intent-to-treat analysis was performed. Patients who took MSM had significantly reduced pain and improved physical functioning, without major adverse events. No evidence of a more general anti-inflammatory effect was found, as there were no significant changes in two measures of systemic inflammation: C-reactive protein level and erythrocyte sedimentation rate.


Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

Barrager evaluated the efficacy of MSM for hayfever. Twenty-five subjects consumed 2,600 mg of MSM per day for 30 days, and a significant improvement in symptoms was observed compared to those taking a placebo. However, the study was not blinded. Also, no significant changes were observed in two indicators of inflammation (C-reactive protein and immunoglobulin E levels). The authors suggest that MSM is safe for short-term use and recommend that a larger, double-blind study be performed to establish its usefulness in treating symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis.

Interstitial cystitis

In 1978, the FDA approved dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO) for instillation into the bladder as a treatment for interstitial cystitis. Since DMSO is metabolized to MSM by the body, it is possible that MSM is the active ingredient in DMSO treatments.



Blum & Blum conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trial of an MSM-containing throat spray for snoring.


Manufacture of MSM

MSM is manufactured by oxidation of DMSO with hydrogen peroxide (DMSO + Hydrogen Peroxide yields MSM + water). The MSM must then be purified. There are two methods of purification currently used in commercial production of MSM as a dietary supplement: crystallization and distillation.

Extreme Close-Up of Pure MSM in it's crystalline state

Crystallization yields products with varying degrees of purity, but it is a more cost-effective method and is thus preferred by most manufacturers.

Distillation produces similar purity MSM, but is a more expensive process.

Distillation uses boiling point differentials to purify the MSM mixture. First, water is vaporized; then MSM is separated from “low boilers” (i.e., components with low boiling temperatures). Further distillation yields the pure MSM product. Components with high boiling temperatures (e.g., heavy metals, salts) remain in the bottom of the distillation vessel and are removed as waste. Distillation yields a product of reasonable purity. The product is quite dry (typically < 0.05% moisture) when distilled properly, so few moisture-related problems occur, such as product degradation and microbial contamination. Also, the less water present in a product, the less water quality is a concern. Thus, like crystallization, distillation can also remove heavy metals from raw materials and is not dependent on water quality.

To obtain purity may require contacting the seller and requesting data from the Certificate of Analysis on the raw material. If measured, levels of lead and other heavy metals should be as low as analytical laboratory detection methods permit.


Related Articles:



Further Reading

  1. Sulfur - the 4th most abundant mineral in the human body

  2. Georges Hareau and Philip Kocienski, "Dimethyl Sulfone" in Encyclopedia of Reagents for Organic Synthesis 2001 John Wiley & Sons. DOI: 10.1002/047084289X.rd371

  3. Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, Schiller RN. A multi-centered, open label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med 2002;8:167–74. PMID 12006124

  4. Blum JM, Blum RI. The effect of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in the control of snoring. Integrative Medicine 2004;3(6)24-30.

  5. Childs SJ. Dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) in the treatment of interstitial cystitis. Urol Clin North Am 1994;21:85–8. PMID 8284850

  6. Engelke UF, Tangerman A, Willemsen MA, Moskau D, Loss S, Mudd SH, Wevers RA. Dimethyl sulfone in human cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma confirmed by one-dimensional (1)H and two-dimensional (1)H-(13)C NMR. NMR Biomed 2005 Aug;18(5):331-6. PMID 15996001

  7. Horváth K, Noker PE, Somfai-Relle S, et al. Toxicity of methylsulfonylmethane in rats. Food Chem Toxicol 2002;40:1459–62. PMID 12387309

  8. Jacob SW, Appleton J. MSM-The Definitive Guide (Topanga, Freedom Press, 2003) ISBN 1-893910-21-0

  9. Kim LS, Axelrod LJ, Howard P, Buratovich N, Waters RF. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2006;14(3):286–94. PMID 16309928

  10. King CJ. Separation Processes, 2nd ed. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1980. ISBN 0-07-034612-7

  11. Kocsis JJ, Harkaway S, Snyder R. Biological effects of the metabolites of dimethyl sulfoxide. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1975;243:104–9. PMID 1055534

  12. Lin A, Nguy CH, Shic F, Ross BD. Accumulation of methylsulfonylmethane in the human brain: identification by multinuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Toxicol Lett 2001;123:169–77. PMID 11641045

  13. Morton JI, Siegel BV. Effects of oral dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl sulfone on murine autoimmune lymphoproliferative disease. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1986;183:227–30. PMID 3489943

  14. Murav'ev IuV, Venikova MS, Pleskovskaia GN, et al. [Effect of dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl sulfone on a destructive process in the joints of mice with spontaneous arthritis]. Patol Fiziol Eksp Ter 1991;(2):37–9 [in Russian]. PMID 1881708

  15. Pearson TW, Dawson HJ, Lackey HB. Natural occurring levels of dimethyl sulfoxide in selected fruits, vegetables, grains and beverages. J Agric Food Chem 1981;29:1019–21. PMID 7309994

  16. Pfiffner JJ, North HB. Dimethyl sulfone: A constituent of the adrenal gland. J Biol Chem 1940;134:781–2. PDF online.

  17. Rose SE, Chalk JB, Galloway GJ, Doddrell DM. Detection of dimethyl sulfone in the human brain by in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Magn Reson Imaging 2000;18:95–8. PMID 10642107

  18. Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest 2004;24(6):353–63.

  19. Williams KIH, Burstein SH, Layne DS. Dimethyl sulfone: isolation from cows’ milk. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med 1966;122:865–6. PMID 5918965

  20. Williams KIH, Burstein SH, Layne. Metabolism of dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl sulfoxide, and dimethyl sulfone in the rabbit. Arch Biochem Biophys 1966;117:84–7. PMID 5971744



Our MSM has been laboratory tested

and is certified to be 99.9% pure.