MSM: Magic Super Medicine? MSM for Acne, Seb Derm, Eczema, and General Greatness

I’ve recently added a new supplement to my already overstocked vitamin cupboard.

This is not unusual for me – I’m quite the experimental type when it comes to my supplements, always willing to give anything a try.  In the bad old days, it was to treat my acne – and eventually I came upon this combination of vitamins and minerals, which helps enormously (along with this diet).

What is unusual, these days, is for me to come across a supplement which changes the way I feel or look enough for me to actually stick with it.

I’ve gotten rid of my acne, so any new supplement has to do something about:

  • my relatively oily skin
  • my definitely oily hair
  • my occasional seborrheic dermatitis
  • or just generally give me a boost.

And I’ve finally found one which does all four.

I call it my Magic Super Medicine*

*Note:  It’s not medicine.  Please do not confuse supplements with actual medicine.

What is my Magic Super Medicine?

It’s MSM, a supplement you may have heard of. MSM actually stands for Methylsulfonylmethane – which is why I’ve given in a pronounceable and somewhat childish name instead.

Let’s just call it MSM from hereon.

MSM is basically nothing more than a source of organic sulfur – and I didn’t know this until the other day, but sulfur is apparently the eighth most abundant element in the human body (and the third most abundant mineral).

Sulfur is more abundant in the body than all of the other minerals I take on a daily basis put together, and it’s a vital micronutrient.

It’s an essential element in proteins, nucleic acids (like DNA), hormones, enzymes, the list goes on. So many major biological molecules, any and all of which can play a role in acne.

And here’s the weird thing about supplemental sulfur, considering how vital it is – so far, no recommended daily intake has been calculated by the FDA.

And the reason for that is that no-one has ever been diagnosed as sulfur deficient.

Neither is there any upper limit, and no toxic doses have been encountered – even with dosages up to 30 grams (that’s over one ounce of the supplement) per day.

So if none of us is deficient in sulfur, how come a sulfur-based supplement can be so beneficial?

Unfortunately, that’s a question science hasn’t yet answered.  And as smart as I undoubtedly am, I’m afraid I haven’t either.

So what can MSM do for you?

For acne sufferers, MSM is a very powerful antioxidant.  This means it lowers inflammation and improves immune function, addressing two of the key factors which trigger acne breakouts.

There are plenty of reports from people using MSM for acne, but because of its ability to fight inflammation, MSM has been used to successfully treat conditions as varied as:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Digestive problems, as well as reducing the effect of food allergies
  • Skin problems like acne, rosacea, dermatitis, and wounds
  • Muscle pain
  • Stress
  • Yeast infections – key for anyone suffering seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff, or those concerned about Candida

In short, it has a wide range of therapeutic uses and about a zillion health benefits, of which acne and skin conditions are just a couple.

So come on Chris, what benefits have you noticed?

Having heard such great things about MSM, I had my first bottle of Solgar MSM Supplments delivered on a Saturday evening and took my first 1,000mg tablet (that’s 1 gram) with Sunday lunch.  In keeping with advice from Dr. Google I took it with 1,000mg vitamin C and planned to “taper up” to 3g/day over a couple of days.

The energy boost from MSM was almost instant.  About an hour after I took it, I couldn’t sit still.

I was literally pacing around my house, my mind racing at a million miles a minute.  Never felt anything quite like it. I got so much work done that afternoon (a Sunday) that I was bored for about two days, because I’d already done everything on my to-do list.

I mean, I’ve never taken any recreational drugs, and in my (as usual, totally correct) opinion drugs are for losers.  But if this is what pick-me-up drugs like cocaine do to you, I can see why they’re so popular.

Except with MSM, there aren’t any of the bad bits of drugs – no side effects, no come down, and it’s not illegal.

It took just 24 hours to start seeing a change in my hair and skin, both of which – and this is a feeling I have NEVER had before – were kind of dry.  I don’t mean dry as in “less oily”, I mean actually dry.

With my seb derm, I basically have to stay away from most moisturizers, and I use a touch of jojoba oil if I need to rehydrate any dry patches.  This is because the condition is made worse by oils of all kinds.

But about 36 hours after I’d taken the MSM, I had none of the usual evening oil-slick and I had to apply the thinnest smear of moisturizing cream to relieve the tightness in the skin of my forehead.

My hair too, was dry and almost straw-like, such that I had to use some Head & Shoulders Conditioner just to liven it up what’s left of it.

I assume because of this dramatic reduction in oil, my seborrheic dermatitis – which at the time was manifested as a touch of redness either side of my nose – receded.  I keep it relatively well in check with Nizoral shampoo, as described here, but after taking MSM it looked just like… well, normal skin. In about two days.  I’ve not been able to assess its effect on acne, but many on the usual online forums describe positive effects in a very short space of time.

If nothing else, there are no side effects reported from MSM use – some people take a grossly excessive amount of the stuff daily for pain relief. So all you’ve got to lose is a few bucks.

Actually, there is one side effect, but it’s harmless: I get very, very vivid dreams when I take MSM. Not nightmares or anything girly like that, just very vivid dreams.  More on sleep below.

I built up over the course of a week from one to three grams a day, but decided in the end that three had no noticeable benefits over two grams. I’m sticking with 1g in the morning with 1g vitamin C and the same again at lunch.

One note of caution – when I first tried three grams a day, I took my last tablet at about 7pm.  Wrong move.  I ended up finally getting to sleep sometime around 2.30am and had approximately 2 hours of fitful sleep.  Then I needed three cups of coffee the next day just to feel alive. DO NOT take MSM late in the day!

Supplements with lots of upside and very little downside are as rare as rocking horse shit, and MSM gave me fast and effective relief from two notoriously difficult skin conditions – oily skin and seborrheic dermatitis – along with tons of energy. MSM has therefore permanently found its place on my supplement shelf; dosage, two 1000mg tablets a day.

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