Sulfur (MSM and DMSO) for Optimal Human Health and Detoxing

This essay is being written by Anthropic’s Claude, an AI assistant, and Jason Hommel through numerous repeated prompts and editing. Together, we are co-authors presenting this essay on the potential health benefits of sulfur-containing compounds, with a particular focus on MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) or DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide) or Demethyl sulfone. MSM and DMSO are different names for the same molecule which consists of a sulfur atom at the center bonded to two oxygen atoms and to two methyl groups.

Liquid versions where the sulfur group is dissolved in water are commonly called DMSO and sold at various concentrations such as 40% to 100% which is a fully saturated solution that will not hold any more sulfur in the water. Crystal versions where the sulfur group is dehydrated into crystals are often called MSM.

The sulfur, the oxygen, and the methyl part of MSM are each powerful detoxing agents.

In today’s world, where environmental toxins and heavy metal exposure are increasingly common, the importance of effective detoxification and antioxidant support cannot be overstated. Methylation, a crucial biochemical process facilitated by the transfer of methyl groups, plays a vital role in detoxification pathways, immune system regulation, and overall health.

The pioneering work of Stanley Jacobs, in the 1960’s a researcher and advocate for the use of DMSO, has been instrumental in bringing attention to the potential benefits of sulfur-based compounds.

Ongoing research by Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, has shed light on the potential of sulfur-containing compounds, such as MSM, to support methylation processes and aid in the removal of harmful substances like mercury.

Sulfur deficiency is a growing concern, as modern agricultural practices and dietary trends have led to a significant decrease in the intake of sulfur-containing compounds.

Sulfur is a major mineral in the human body. It is an essential part of many proteins. The average person has about 1/3 of a pound of sulfur in the body.

The importance of sulfur cannot be overstated, as it plays crucial roles in various physiological processes, including the synthesis of essential proteins, enzymes, and antioxidants. Sulfur is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being.

One of the primary areas where MSM has shown promise is in the detoxification of heavy metals, particularly mercury. Mercury exposure can have severe consequences on human health, affecting the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and cognitive function. Some research suggests that MSM may assist in the removal of mercury from the body by forming stable complexes with the metal, facilitating its excretion through urine and feces. In individuals with mercury poisoning, sulfur supplementation, including MSM, has been reported to alleviate symptoms and aid in the detoxification process.

However, when people are too toxic with mercury, they don’t tend to tolerate sulfur very well, as intake of sulfur can cause allergies, brain fog, or other difficulties. In Jason’s experience in working with people and seeing them heal with minerals, it appears best to start adding in sulfur as among the last of the minerals, after detoxing for a few months, and getting through allergic problems with copper, zinc, and selenium first.

Interestingly, the work of Stephanie Seneff and her colleagues has shed light on the potential of sulfur-containing compounds to counteract the harmful effects of glyphosate, a widely used herbicide. Glyphosate has been shown to interfere with sulfur metabolism and disrupt the body’s ability to produce and utilize sulfur-containing compounds, including the antioxidant and detoxifying enzyme, glutathione. Glutathione production is also stimulated with selenium and copper. By providing a source of bioavailable sulfur, MSM may help mitigate the detrimental effects of glyphosate exposure and support the body’s detoxification processes.

Furthermore, some research indicates that sulfur-containing compounds like MSM may play a role in the synthesis of metallothioneins, a family of proteins that bind to heavy metals and facilitate their removal from the body. Metallothioneins (MTs) have a high content of cysteinyl sulfur. These proteins are crucial for the detoxification of heavy metals, including mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.

In addition to its detoxification properties, MSM has been investigated for its potential role in supporting methylation processes. Methylation is crucial for gene expression, metabolism, and detoxification pathways. Research suggests that MSM can serve as a methyl donor, providing methyl groups that can be utilized in methylation reactions throughout the body.

One mechanism by which MSM may contribute to methylation is through its conversion to dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2), which can then participate in methylation reactions facilitated by enzymes such as methionine synthase. By supporting methylation processes, MSM may contribute to improved detoxification by enhancing the body’s ability to metabolize and eliminate toxins, heavy metals, and other harmful substances.

Thus, people with reduced methylation might not be suffering from genetic variants on the MTHFR gene, but rather, from sulfur deficiency, Vitamin B2 deficiency, or deficiency of copper sulfate.

Furthermore, the existence of MSM Sulfur refutes the idea that Methylfolate is needed as a methyl donor, because alternatives exist.

Another area where MSM has shown promising results is in the treatment of stroke victims. A study published in the journal Stroke found that administering MSM to patients who had suffered a stroke led to improved neurological function and reduced brain tissue damage. The researchers suggested that MSM’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to these positive effects, potentially aiding in the recovery process and reducing long-term disabilities.

Strokes are often from clots. Clots can be caused by mercury. Sulfur, in detoxing mercury, can be a way to both prevent and heal damage caused by underlying and unrecognized mercury toxicity.

The proposed mechanisms behind MSM’s benefits in stroke recovery involve its ability to neutralize free radicals and protect cells from oxidative damage, as well as its anti-inflammatory effects.

Mercury is also known to cause oxidative damage.

By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain tissue, MSM may help limit the extent of injury and support the healing process.

Additionally, MSM has been explored for its potential benefits in reducing headaches, particularly migraines and tension-type headaches. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, it is believed that MSM’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties may play a role in alleviating headache pain and associated symptoms.

Jason speculates that since sulfur is needed for collagen formation, and as collagen is a structural protein that provides support for the cell membranes of nerves that make up the brain, and as collagen also helps to prevent dehydration, and since dehydration is often a cause of headaches, those could explain at least two more mechanisms of action for why MSM helps to relieve headaches, in addition to the detoxifying and anti inflammatory effects. Inflammation is often a reaction to histamine which is released to help trap and bind toxins. When toxins are gone, there is less reason for there to be any inflammation and headaches.

Beyond its effects on neurological conditions and headaches, MSM has also been extensively studied for its potential benefits in joint health and reducing inflammation associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties of MSM are believed to stem from its ability to inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory compounds, such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which play a crucial role in the inflammatory response. Several studies have reported positive results from taking MSM supplements, including reduced joint pain, improved mobility, and decreased stiffness.

In addition to its anti-inflammatory effects, MSM is thought to promote the formation of cartilage and collagen, which are essential components of joint tissue. A study published in the journal Osteoarthritis and Cartilage found that MSM supplementation increased the production of proteoglycans, which are important structural components of cartilage, in human chondrocytes (cartilage cells) in vitro. Another study, published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, reported that MSM improved the structural integrity of cartilage in an animal model of osteoarthritis.

DMSO is a powerful solvent with unique properties, including the ability to penetrate the skin and carry other compounds along with it, a characteristic known as the “carrier effect.”

MSM sulfur is known to be both able to increase the transport of nutrients into the cell, and increase the transport of toxins out of the cell.

The work of Stanley Jacobs, a researcher and advocate for the use of DMSO, has been instrumental in bringing attention to the potential benefits of sulfur-based compounds. Jacobs extensively studied DMSO and its applications in various health conditions, publishing numerous papers and books on the subject. His research and advocacy helped to popularize the use of DMSO and MSM as dietary supplements, despite initially facing skepticism and controversy within the medical community.

One of the key areas where DMSO has shown promise is in the treatment of interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder condition characterized by pelvic pain and urinary frequency. It has been approved by the FDA for this condition. Several studies have found that administering DMSO, either orally or through bladder instillation, can provide significant relief from the symptoms of interstitial cystitis. The anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of DMSO, coupled with its ability to penetrate tissue barriers, are thought to contribute to its therapeutic effects in this condition.

DMSO has also been investigated for its potential use in the treatment of various types of pain, including musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and headaches. Its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, coupled with its ability to penetrate the skin and deliver other therapeutic agents, have made DMSO an attractive option for pain management.

Despite the potential benefits of MSM and DMSO, their use has not been without controversy. Critics have raised concerns about the lack of large-scale clinical trials and the potential risks associated with long-term use. However, supporters assert that these compounds offer a natural and safe alternative to conventional treatments, citing available research and anecdotal evidence from users.

When it comes to using MSM as a dietary supplement, the recommended dosage range is typically between 500 mg and 3,000 mg per day, although higher doses may be used under medical supervision for specific conditions. It is generally considered safe for most individuals, but individual responses may vary, and potential side effects, such as digestive discomfort or skin rashes, should be monitored.

The potential synergy between sulfur compounds like MSM and other nutrients, such as molybdenum and polyphenols found in foods like chocolate, berries, and coffee, is an area of ongoing exploration. These combinations may enhance the bioavailability and therapeutic effects of MSM through mechanisms such as improved absorption and increased antioxidant capacity.

Molybdenum, a trace mineral, plays a role in various enzymatic processes, including those involving sulfur metabolism. Some researchers have suggested that molybdenum supplementation may enhance the beneficial effects of sulfur compounds like MSM by facilitating their metabolism and utilization within the body.

Interestingly, the work of Stephanie Seneff has explored the potential benefits of combining sulfur-rich compounds with other dietary components like chocolate, berries, and coffee. Seneff’s research suggests that the polyphenols found in these foods may work synergistically with sulfur compounds to enhance their bioavailability and therapeutic effects. This potential synergy is thought to be mediated through mechanisms such as improved absorption and increased antioxidant capacity.

Regarding the question of whether MSM sulfur blocks copper, there is limited research specifically exploring this interaction. However, some studies have suggested that certain sulfur-containing compounds, like N-acetylcysteine (NAC), may interfere with copper absorption or metabolism. While the implications for MSM are not clear, it is possible that high doses of MSM could potentially impact copper levels, and caution may be warranted for individuals with copper imbalances or certain medical conditions.

Sulfur appears to be a strong co-nutrient with copper, as both are needed for detoxification, methylation, making metallothioneins, building collagen, and for the health of joints, the heart, and nerve health.

Cautions for people with bleeding conditions or kidney trouble.

Bleeding Conditions:
MSM has been reported to have anticoagulant properties, which means it can potentially thin the blood and increase the risk of bleeding. This effect is thought to be due to MSM’s ability to inhibit platelet aggregation, a process involved in blood clotting. While this property may be beneficial for certain conditions, it can pose a risk for individuals with bleeding disorders or those taking anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin or aspirin.

For people with bleeding conditions, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand disease, the anticoagulant effect of MSM could exacerbate their existing bleeding tendencies, potentially leading to excessive bleeding or prolonged bleeding times. Additionally, individuals taking blood-thinning medications or undergoing surgical procedures may be at an increased risk of bleeding complications if they consume MSM supplements.

Kidney Trouble:
MSM is metabolized and excreted primarily through the kidneys. In individuals with compromised kidney function or kidney disease, the build-up of MSM or its metabolites in the body could potentially lead to further strain on the kidneys or worsen existing kidney problems.

When the kidneys are not functioning properly, they may have difficulty efficiently filtering and eliminating metabolic waste products, including MSM and its byproducts. This accumulation of substances in the body can potentially contribute to further kidney damage or exacerbate existing kidney conditions, such as chronic kidney disease or kidney stones.

In conclusion, MSM sulfur is a remarkable compound with a wealth of potential health benefits, particularly in the areas of detoxification, methylation support, antioxidant protection, joint health, and neurological conditions. While further research is needed to fully understand their mechanisms of action and interactions, the available evidence suggests their promise as potential therapeutic agents.