If you are looking at less common hair growth things to use, then you may have heard of MSM. But, like with most uncommon things, you may be questioning as to whether or not it will actually help with your hair. To find out, let’s look at MSM, what it is, and what it can do for you.
What Is MSM?
First of all, MSM is the abbreviated name of methylsulfonylmethane. This is a type of a sulfur compound, also called an organosulfur compound, which simply means it is an organic compound. MSM is something that is in all of our bodies inside our cells.
It is both a natural and a vital nutrient that we need for our health. Our bodies use MSM in a number of ways. It is because of this that this nutrient is sometimes used in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM).
CAM is also called Complementary Health Approaches, which is medical help that can be used along with conventional medicine. In the world of CAM, MSM is sometimes called by other names. Some of these are: crystalline dimethyl sulfoxide, dimethyl sulfone, methyl sulfone, organic sulfur, and sulfonylbismethane, but there are more.
Besides being found in us, MSM is also naturally in plants and animals, and it is something that can be chemically made. Since MSM is found in a lot of forms, a large amount of the MSM you find is artificially made.
Another thing about MSM to note is that it breaks down with heat. So, even though some of the plants that we eat have MSM, when these get cooked, the MSM is no longer there. This is why MSM, though vital, is something that most people do not get enough of.
Benefits Of MSM
There are many benefits of MSM, which is why it is used in CAM medicine. Most of these benefits have been proven through scientific study. These studies show that MSM has some powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
This second one means that MSM also helps reduce oxidative stress, which is basically caused by free radicals. Then there are more free radicals in your body than antioxidants, the free radicals damage all sorts of cells. The type of antioxidant that MSM has is glutathione.
The anti-inflammatory properties of MSM help with allergy symptoms as well, inhibiting histamine in your nasal pathways. This allows MSM to help with sneezing, runny nose, congestion, itching, and the other things common with seasonal allergies.
Besides that, MSM is also used to relieve osteoarthritis pain. MSM does this by inhibiting the breakdown of the cartilage in your joints, which is what causes the pain, stiffness, and swelling.
A few other things that MSM can help with are that it can help with gastric inflammation and gastric ulcers. It can also reduce exercise-related muscle soreness. However, another well-known benefit of MSM is what it can do for your hair and skin.
Though I will get to the hair in a moment, MSM can help the skin by easing burns, and by helping with skin conditions like rosacea and melasma.
MSM also helps with your fingernails and skin by strengthening the keratin in them, as well as giving you collagens. MSM is also antibacterial and antifungal, which can help with a number of skin and nail diseases to keep both of these areas healthy.
Finally, though still just speculation, MSM might even be some help in preventing the growth of cancer cells. There may be other MSM benefits that aren’t known, but those are the highlights.
You can probably already see MSM’s usefulness to your hair. The fact that the main things MSM has are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties already says a whole lot about it. Inflammation and free radicals alone may be what is causing your hair loss, and MSM can help with both.
Any inflammation in your scalp can cause a lack of proper circulation, basically starving your cells of nutrients. Free radicals, on that note, cause damage wherever they go and can sometimes bleach your hair by oxidative stress.
Another main way MSM helps with hair growth is because it is one of the building blocks of keratin. Since hair is primarily made of keratin, the importance of this is pretty obvious. MSM can even help repair broken keratin. And that is not to mention the fact that MSM also helps makes collagen, which is also needed for hair.
MSM can also do other things for your hair, such as delaying the onset of grey hair. It does this by making something called catalase, which degrades the hydrogen peroxide that your body makes as a byproduct of some of its other functions.
Sulfur, which MSM is a type of, is often seen in anti-dandruff shampoos. This is because sulfur of any type is very effective at helping prevent dandruff. As an antibacterial, antifungal, and something with keratolytic properties, MSM can cover a lot of hair conditions.
Though helping with the cartilage in your joints may not be directly helping your hair, it is an indirect help. If your joints are hurting, you are not going to feel like moving around and doing things. But exercise is vital for your health, and it is needed to have healthy hair as it gets your blood going and helps with your circulation.
Cautions Of MSM
You may think that MSM must be safe, especially as it is a natural sulfur that is already found in your body. However, there are some MSM concerns that you should know about before you decide to start using it. Even MSM has some degree of risk if you overdo it.
The FDA has given MSM a GRAS certification in 2008, which means that it is Generally Recognized as Safe. People have taken 5 to 7 times the maximum recommended dose of MSM without any severe side effects.
This isn’t that there are no MSM side effects, however. These are headaches, nausea, abdominal discomfort, bloating, and diarrhea. If you suddenly start taking MSM in large doses without giving your body time to adjust, you are more likely to have these.
So, start taking or using MSM in a small amount and then increase that amount until you are taking the MSM you want. Also, taking MSM with food can help it not upset your stomach in some cases.
But, at the same time, MSM has also been detected in the brain where it is not supposed to be. What the MSM was doing there, if it was harmful or not, is not known. The fact that the MSM was there is mildly concerning all the same.
Finally, many sites also recommend you to patch test MSM to make sure that you are not allergic. Though none say that you are likely to have a reaction to MSM, the fact that this is recommended seemed to imply that it is possible.
Also, there is the usual spiel of recommending you to talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, have any medical conditions, are breastfeeding, or anything else. But any type of supplement will recommend you to do the same.
How To Use MSM For Your Hair
The easiest way to get MSM is as a dietary supplement, which you can get as capsules, gels, tablets, or powders. But you can also get MSM in various topical forms as well, such as shampoos, body oils, lotions, and creams.
Since it is safe to take far more MSM than the recommended dosage, you should consider taking more than one form of it if you are using it to try to help with your hair growth. Onions, garlic, watermelon, avocado, bananas, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, and a long list of vegetables are all rich in sulfur.
It should be no surprise that MSM is used as a supplement in all sorts of things. These range from meal supplement and meal replacement foods to thirst quencher-type beverages and all types of food bars.
To really use MSM to help with hair growth, however, you should apply it topically. As mentioned, you can find MSM in shampoos, especially ones made to help with dandruff. But you can also add the MSM powder to your favorite hair products such as shampoos, conditioners, and hair masks.
You can get even more of a boost by putting some MSM as well as something like coffee in a hair mask. The coffee will not only add more MSM to it, but the caffeine in it will help the MSM be absorbed. You can also either add eggs, milk, or avocado to the hair mask for more MSM, or just have MSM powder and an oil and put that directly on your scalp.
There are a lot of MSM recipes online that you can choose from, and a lot of ways MSM can be added to whatever you usually do. It is up to you to pick which one you want to try.
MSM might be fairly new for helping with hair loss. However, the fact that it has proven benefits puts it leagues above other equally new treatments that rely more on speculation and that don’t have the weight of studies behind them.
A 2009 study showed that MSM might even work as well as a minoxidil 5% solution, though that one was done on rats and not people. MSM has had a few other tests that have been done on it, with the same results.
So, I think that MSM is definitely worth trying for hair growth. One thing that I love about MSM is the fact that you can start seeing results within either 2 weeks or 20 days. The other is that it is actually quite cheap, with some selling MSM at a few month’s supply at cheaper than you can get a month’s worth of most hair growth supplements.