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Nutrient - Keeping moving - MSM!

By Cathy Robinson BSc DipNutMed MBANT

The acronym MSM stands for methysulfonylmethane. A molecule of MSM comprises hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and – most importantly - sulphur atoms. Sulphur, often called the beauty mineral, is incredibly important for the structure and functioning of the body and is an integral component of keratin, the substance that makes up the outer layer of our skin, and is contained in hair and nails. Sulphur is also needed for the synthesis of collagen, which provides the suppleness and flexibility of cartilage, skin and connective tissue. In our bodies, sulphur is found largely in amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. The sulphur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine are involved in the liver’s detoxification processes, the formation of insulin, the healing of wounds and the production of energy. Sulphur is also crucial for many enzymes involved in the body’s chemical reactions. 

Sulphur naturally occurs near hot springs and volcanic craters, and has a characteristic rotten egg smell. Sulphur has been used medicinally since ancient times. Sulphur baths were used widely in the Victorian era, where taking the waters was a popular pastime to aid good health in spa towns such as Bath or Royal Leamington Spa, with their naturally sulphur-rich waters. It has been associated with healing for so long that nowadays it is often overlooked.

MSM is naturally present in plants with characteristic odours such as onions, garlic, cabbage, swiss chard and kale. It is also present in egg yolks, fish such as tuna and halibut, and meat. MSM is often lost when foods are cooked or processed.

MSM is often added to skin creams and lotions but is also widely used as a food supplement. Thanks to its role in the production of collagen and keratin, it can help to maintain strong, shiny hair, youthful-looking skin and strong, healthy nails. It may also assist wound healing, avoiding the formation of inelastic scar tissue. Since collagen is vital for healthy joints, MSM is often used during recovery from sports injuries, or alongside glucosamine for the maintenance of healthy joint tissue. Research has suggested that MSM may exert an anti-inflammatory effect. Many people with musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis have reported relief after using MSM, and scientists have shown that taking MSM for 12 weeks resulted in a statistically significant reduction in symptoms.

MSM appears to play a role in blocking the receptivity of histamine receptors, so can manage the severity of inflammation and other symptoms associated with allergies. Researchers found that application of topical MSM helped skin inflammation and itchiness caused by ulltraviolet light.

With all these many and varied benefits, it seems the Victorians knew a thing or two about sulphur


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