Wellness Wednesdays: MSM and its many benefits for joints, hair, skin and nails

*my apologies for this late post…but work was a BEAST today!*

Since I began my journey into becoming physically healthier, it seems like my body is trying to rebel on me! Old high school and college injuries are rearing their ugly heads and trying to make me feel older than my 29 years! Sadly, I know part of it is the excess weight that I’m carrying around (which is why I’m motivated to try and get it off!) but it’s HARD ya’ll to get up and go to the gym when you got creaking knees, aching joints, and a myriad of other ailments (chiefly being LAZY!). I tore my right MCL in college and after being in a long leg brace for 8 months and then 6 months of PT, I wasn’t about to let a bum knee stop me from my goals.

I must say that I am blessed to have a good friend that is studying to become a holistic healthcare provider. As soon as I told him what my issues were, he suggested that I do two things:
  1. Take a week off from the gym to give my knee a chance to recover
  2. Begin taking a supplement with MSM, glucosamine and chondroitin ( the picture above is the exact one that I take)
 Initially, I was skeptical, because I really didn’t see an immediate difference. But after consistently taking the supplements for almost 4 months, I see a HUGE difference! My knee doesn’t hurt anymore after my workouts (not unless I REALLY overdo it at the gym) and my joints don’t pop/click.

But what I wasn’t prepared for was the change in my hair.
It’s not like it was an overnight change either...it was very gradual and very subtle. I have this very coarse, rough patch of hair in the center of my head. It’s always the “misbehaving” section of my hair. It’s always the first to tangle, mat, and break. It’s the section of hair that I must baby. I add extra leave in to it so that it retains moisture and I detangle it in smaller sections to ensure that it doesn’t mat. Well to my surprise, it just hit me one day…that my misbehaving section hasn’t been acting up much lately. Come to think of it, it hasn’t been misbehaving at ALL. The section has been retaining moisture much better (actually my whole head is), it’s not tangling as much, it’s not as rough as it once was, and the strands feel smoother and stronger. Also, as thick as my hair was prior, it’s gotten even THICKER.

And the best part…..it’s been SIX MONTHS since my last trim (I’m scheduled to get one on Sunday!) and usually by month two, this is the section that lets me know that it’s about time to get a trim. I’ve NEVER been able to go more than three months without serious breakage/damage to this section of my head and generally have lots ot splits and those darn single strand knots.  Additionally, I’m not shedding nearly as much hair as I used to. No joke ya’ll I used to think I was part poodle or something because I was always sweeping hair up off the floor…and when detangling; my shed hair ball was ridiculous. I would see ladies posting about how their shedding really bad because they lost more than 20 hairs and I would laugh hysterically at my computer. Twenty hairs and you’re sending out a nappy mayday? Man only in my dreams.

Well I guess that dream has come true because when I detangle now, I literally only have a few shed hairs, and they are all long and have the bulb on the end. Not like before where the hairs would be various sizes and some of them I KNEW were broken hairs. Now, I will admit that I have been taking much better care of my hair these past few months, and this change could be from a combination of things…but the more I read up on MSM…the more convinced that this has played a critical part in the overall improvement in the health of my hair.  Specificly, I think the MSM is the reason why I'm not sheding nearly as much hair as I used to nor am I experiencing as much breakage.

So what exactly is MSM? Official MSM is Methylsulfonylmethane. Quite simply MSM is a food that comes from the ocean, is water soluble, and is not a drug, or a food additive. MSM is the 3rd largest ingredient found in the human body. MSM is a natural form of organic sulfonyl sulfur compound that is found in the fluid of all living organisms. It is present in a variety of foods, including most fresh raw fruits and green vegetables, milk, meat, seafood, and some grains. It is also found in many common beverages such as milk, coffee and tea.

While MSM is found in many common foods that we eat, MSM is volatile and is easily lost during even moderate processing. Cooking, drying, smoking, pickling, and long-term storage can deplete the MSM content of food. Unless the human diet is composed primarily of raw foods, it is unlikely that sufficient MSM will be ingested to significantly contribute to the nutritional sulfur requirement. MSM provides the body with a water soluble (which means its easily absorbed by the body) form of sulfur required for healthy collagen and keratin which are essential for healthy hair, skin and nails.

How does MSM work? MSM can naturally lengthen your hair’s growth phase.  The anagen phase is the hair's growth phase. It is genetically determined. This is why some people can grow very long hair, while others cannot grow hair past their shoulders. A person who has an angen phase lasting six years will achieve much greater lengths than a person with only a two year anagen. Why is this? Because the hair grows in three phases: the anagen is the growth phase, the catagen is the growth phase and the telogen is the shedding phase. In the hair, MSM works with the natural keratin and protein levels of the hair to accelerate the hair growth cycle by extending the length of the hair growth cycle.

What are some other benefits of MSM?
  • - MSM helps your body build collagen, the protein that keeps skin and hair supple.
  • - MSM is thought to promote the rebuilding of muscles and joint tissue
  • - MSM is used by the body to continually create new healthy cells to replace the old ones.
  • - MSM helps our bodies absorb more nutrients (vitamins and minerals)
  • - MSM helps the body eliminate toxins including lactic acid build-up from strenuous exercise.
  • - MSM helps to dramatically reduces recuperation time from strenuous exercise.

Now, don’t run out to your pharmacy and go load up on MSM! As with ALL supplements, you should talk with your doctor/healthcare provider about any possible drug interactions. Also, I am of the belief that supplements work best when used in conjunction with a balanced, healthy diet. I took a MSM supplement when I first injuried my knee to shorten the recovery time, but I never noticed any of the positive effects (not even in my recovery) because I was still loading my body up with Big Macs and Filet-o-Fish sandwiches.  If you want to get the best benefit from your herbal/mineral supplements, change your eating habits/diet too!

For those of you that are not into taking lots of pills, MSM can also be used topically.  I personally have not experimented (yet any way) with adding MSM to products, but I have been purchasing more products with MSM already in them.  Lots of natural handmade product companies have been including MSM in thier products because of the benefits that it offers.  Here are a few products that I've been using that contain MSM:
  • Qhemet Biologics Amla and Olive Heavy Cream, Burdock Root Butter Cream, CocoTree Detangling Ghee, Karkady Spray, and Honeybush Tea soft Gel (http://www.qhemetbiologics.com/) *actually, I think most of the Qhemet Biologics products contain MSM*
  • Afroveda Hibiscus Hair Infusion Oil (http://www.afroveda.com/)
I'm sure there are a lot of other products that contain MSM, but these are just the one's that I've been using which I LOVE. I actually purchased them for other reasons, but when I noticed that they all contained MSM, that's when I started putting 2 and 2 together!  Also, some people say that MSM can cause adult acne flare ups....so as with anything...use caution and experiment safely folks!
Want more information? Check out the following links:


Also, there are TONS of topics about MSM on Nappturality, NaturallyCurly, and LHCF. Many of the ladies there have been using MSM topically as well as in supplemental form and there is a wealth of information there.  As always, got a question? Hit me in the comments section!


Anonymous said...

awesome post nappy~ extremely informative!

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Who is Nappy.Curly.Crown?

I've been natural for 23 of my 29 years on this earth and for the past 5 years consecutively. In those past 5 years, natural hair care has become a hobby and passion of mine. I created this space to help decipher the massive amounts of information about natural hair care, specifically the science of natural hair care. I'm a scientist by trade andprofession and my hope is to make this spot the go to location for information on how to get and keep your natural hair healthy.