MSM for Arthritis: Miracle Pill or Snake Oil?
WebMD News Archive
In a written
statement, the Arthritis Foundation notes that at this time, there is not
enough evidence available about MSM's effectiveness and, therefore, it is
considered an unproven remedy.
has been extensive anecdotal evidence reported and some studies, the Arthritis
Foundation is unaware of significant long-term studies involving large numbers
of patients to assess the safety and long-term benefits or harm of the
chemical, according to the statement.
Pisetsky, MD, chief of rheumatology at Duke University Medical Center in
Durham, N.C., agrees.
substances are being used as drugs and they have interactions with other
medications and can be a problem in people with conditions we don't know
about," he tells WebMD.
drugs and they do have side effects and haven't been put to the test the way
conventional pharmaceuticals have," he says. "There are a lot of good,
new classes of arthritis drugs that work very well and have been
problem with MSM and other supplements is that "they are not inexpensive,
and patients spend a lot of money on unproven alternative therapies and then
they don't want to spend money on prescription medications," Pisetsky
When it comes
to MSM and all supplements, buyer beware, Gilbert Ross, MD, tells WebMD. Ross
is medical director for the American Council On Science and Health, a nonprofit
consumer education group in New York City.
"Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and as
such, you can never be sure what it is you are getting," he
About 2.5 million
people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, a disease characterized by the
inflammation of the membrane that lines the joint, causing pain, warmth,
redness, and swelling.
In a small study and
in anecdotal reports, the supplement MSM, methyl sulfonylmethane, has been
shown to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis.
The safety and
long-term benefits of the drug have not yet been determined, so some physicians
warn patients to exercise caution in using MSM.