When James Coburn won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in the movie Affliction, the world found out about his remedy for rheumatoid arthritis, MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane). Soon after winning the award he began appearing on talk shows, touting the virtues of MSM. He claimed he had worked wonders for his rheumatoid arthritis. Did he really conquer RA with MSM? It’s hard to really know for sure. Rumor has it he was paid a large sum of money to promote the supplement.

Now it seems everyone knows someone who takes MSM and loves it. But what is it? MSM stands for Methyl Sulfonyl Methane, an organic sulfur. Marketers claim it treats everything from arthritis to constipation; it even helps you grow longer fingernails.

It seems unlikely that any one supplement could treat so many things. It is supposedly a substance that is naturally found in fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, fish and grains. It is lost during processing of these foods, so we need to ingest it as a supplement.

Does it work? Well, unless you have a long tail, we don’t know for sure.No scientific studies have been done on humans, but MSM did ease rheumatoid arthritis like symptoms in mice. Even the doctor who developed MSM,Stanley Jacob, MD, acknowledges that the “arthritis cure” claims are over-hyped. While Dr. Jacob stands by the many benefits of MSM, he does point out that it’s not a “cure.”

It does appear to be safe; no toxic effects have been noted, though studies are needed. The Arthritis Foundation considers MSM an unproven remedy and at this point in time, I would have to agree. Until human studies are done, we just don’t know enough about it to be sure of its safety or benefits.

Arthritis Foundation’s Guide to Alternative Therapies
The Arthritis Foundation’s Statement on MSM
Arthritis Today: November/December: 1999 Explorations: MSM & DMSO By
Judith Horstman