Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is an organosulfur compound. Most often used as a protagonistic agent to anti-inflammatory prostaglandin action, MSM is frequently found in compounded creams and other topical treatments.

Most research has focused on the potential efficacy of MSM on osteoarthritis in large joints, such as the knee. One of MSM’s chemical properties that make it well-suited to this type of use is its ability to be converted into a solvent that can penetrate dermal layers. 


In research published in 1982, biochemist Robert Herschler meticulously examined MSM for its role in phosphorus supplementation.1 His findings broadened the interest in MSM from applications mainly for arthritis to those that included allergies, gastrointestinal complaints, and mucous membrane inflammation.1

In 2002, Jacob Stanley brought a great deal of attention to MSM’s use in alternative medicine when he wrote a book detailing more than 18,000 patient experiences with MSM for a wide variety of ailments.2

This article originally appeared on Clinical Advisor