Sulfur is one of those minerals which cannot be underestimated in the vast impact it has on optimal health. Its importance in our health is immense.
Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral of the body after calcium and phosphorus. Almost half the sulfur in our body is found within our muscular tissues, our skin and bones. Sulfur is a natural mineral. It is a major component of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins making sulfur an essential mineral for our health.
MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a biologically active organic form of sulfur, which has unique biological properties associated with its chemical structure. It is the form in which sulfur occurs in nature and in living organisms. Every cell, organ and tissue in our body relies on biological sulfur to function optimally. For this reason it will be the main focus of this article.
MSM has profound therapeutic properties. MSM is found in abundance in vegetables and fruit and raw cow’s milk. However, MSM is very volatile, so it is virtually destroyed whenever it is exposed to pasteurisation, irradiation, frozen or when excessive heat is applied to it. For this reason, as practically everything we consume has been subjected to some form of treatment, the content of MSM from anything we eat or drink is practically negligible or zero. We can assume the majority of us are unlikely to be getting adequate amounts of sulfur in our diets. This explains why MSM is often called the forgotten nutrient. MSM is recognised as the bodies primary source of sulfur, which can be ingested in relatively large quantities with no toxic effects. MSM enhances the effects of other nutrients we consume and boosts the cells uptake of all these nutrients, making them more efficient and better utilized. MSM possesses anti-allergic properties (reducing symptoms of a number of allergies). MSM allows the lungs to be more efficient in the take up of oxygen by improving lung cell elasticity and permeability. It promotes healthy cell growth and repair. It helps disinfect our blood, stimulates bile secretion and aids protection from toxins, parasites and bacteria.
MSM and Health
Studies show that our MSM levels will naturally decline as we age. It is assumed that we must maintain a certain concentration of sulfur in our circulatory system to sustain a healthy physiological function and the structural integrity of our musculoskeletal system. Low levels have been linked with a vast array of health issues and degenerative diseases.
MSM and Connective Tissue
Connective tissue is what keeps our cells together. Hair and nails contain the sulfur rich protein called keratin. Flexible connective tissues and cartilage also consist of proteins that have malleable sulfur bonds. The protein most abundant in our body is collagen, which is an integral part of connective tissue. Skin derives its elasticity from elastin, which works alongside collagen. The cartilage gets its flexibility and structure from the sulfur rich proteoglycans glucosamine along with chondroitin combining with collagen. As we age, we generally notice a loss of flexibility. This is likely to be the result of sulfur deficiency.
MSM and Cell Permeability
Cells and cell organelles all have membranes surrounding them. Membranes are dual layered. One end consists of an amino acid containing sulfur. The interconnection of these amino acids gives rise to a surface which proteins and membrane components are secured and inserted. These proteins allow nutrients and waste to be transported through the membrane of the cell. Elasticity of the cells is possible due to sulfur bridges flexible connections that exist between cells and surrounding connective tissues. Without sulfur, the walls of our cells will harden and elasticity will be lost. If this happens then the ability to transport oxygen, nutrients and accumulated toxic waste across the membrane becomes impaired. Less nutrients and oxygen gets in and waste can’t get out and thus accumulates within the cell. The only outcomes is a loss of vitality and the onset of degenerative disease.
MSM and Metabolism
Thousands of life sustaining metabolic processes rely on biological proteins called enzymes. Without sulfur bridges the spatial structures of our enzymes would not be able to exist and would be devoid of biological activity. A lack of sulfur will result in a shortage of active enzymes and ultimately metabolic processes will be hindered.
Mitochondria are the cells energy factories. Sulfur plays an important role with regards to the cells electron transfer system. Sulfur bridges connect the two amino acid chains that make up insulin molecules. The hormone insulin is manufactured in the pancreas and is responsible for regulating our blood sugar levels. Carbohydrate metabolism relies on insulin, which relies on sulfur bridges. Without them there is a loss of biological activity. Sulfur also plays a role in cell energy production when glucose metabolises.
MSM and the Mucosa
MSM will bind to receptor sites located on the surface of the mucosa membrane. Once there it will be able to perform a blocking function. This means parasites and allergens will have trouble bonding with the mucosa. Furthermore, toxins will be oxidized and harmful free radicals can be more readily eliminated.
MSM and Pain
MSM has been shown to be an effective, natural pain killer for a number of individuals for specific types of pain relief. Being a natural analgetic, it has the ability to block the transmission of pain impulses. Additionally, it can block inflammatory processes by increasing cortisol activity (the bodies anti-inflammatory hormone).
MSM the Antioxidant
Antioxidants are of significant benefit to us due to their ability to neutralise the harmful effects of free radicals, which cause disease and damage to cell membranes and chromosomes and are considered to contribute to the aging of our bodies. It is impossible to avoid constant, significant exposure to free radicals. MSM is a potent antioxidant, which is able to inactivate free radicals. Antioxidants help to neutralise free radicals by donating an electron to the unstable free radical. MSM is a sulfur donor making it an ally of our anti oxidation system. The most important antioxidant of the body is glutathione. Sulfur is needed for the formation of glutathione.
MSM and Detoxification
MSM is highly soluble in a number of inorganic and organic compounds. It can then readily react with toxins, inactivate them and quickly eliminate them from the body. Due to MSM being able to make cell membranes more permeable, it allows toxic waste to be more readily removed from our cells. MSM is also capable of passing the blood-brain barrier. This is particularly significant for neurological diseases and disorders caused by toxic build up in the brain. Few antioxidants and detoxifying compounds have the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier and so are unable to carry out the removal of toxic build up there. MSM is able to cross this barrier and so is able to prevent oxidative damage and to carry out repairs caused by oxidative damage. It will also restore the permeability and elasticity of the cell membrane making the elimination of waste from nerve cells possible. MSM is considered to be an extremely powerful detoxifying nutraceutical agent.
MSM and Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases affect a large number of individuals and cause a great deal of suffering for these people. These diseases cause the body to turn on itself producing inflammation such as that produced by the condition arthritis. MSM is very effective at fighting inflammation and bringing inflammation and degeneration under control. This benefit is derived from MSM’s ability to increase cell permeability. Harmful substances will be able to more easily move out of the cells and beneficial nutrients will more easily enter the cells. Pressure build up is then avoided in the cells, which is the root cause of the inflammation.
MSM and the Skin
MSM is commonly referred to as “the beauty mineral”. It is so called due to its ability to keep our skin smooth and looking youthful and for keeping hair glossy. As already mentioned, sulfur is required for producing keratin and collagen. Both these proteins are needed for the maintenance and health of our skin, hair and nails. You will find MSM as a key ingredient in many beauty creams, lotions and personal care products.