Methylsulphonylmethane. It’s a word big enough to twist the tongue of the most linguistically talented person. It also sounds like a terrible cocktail of chemicals which will lead into another one of those rants discussing the dangers of something you have never heard about. But what if this stuff was in every cell of your body, was a co factor in over 100 bodily functions, aided production of hormones, enzymes, healthy blood circulation and was also a potent anti-inflammatory? Would you be interested in getting some of it?
Coming in a white crystalline form, it actually looks similar to sugar, but is quite the opposite in health terms and is more commonly known as MSM.
MSM is high in the mineral sulphur in its most bio available form. Sulphur in its purest form can’t be processed or used by the body, but MSM being a natural form of it found in plants, is very easily absorbed and used by us.
Long before humans and animals had really evolved to our current form, there were three nutrients available in abundance and these have made up the foundation of life as we know it. They are water, sodium chloride (salt) and MSM. Three nutrients that living beings cannot survive without.
The benefits of this stuff really goes beyond what I can cover in this post, including skin and nail health, cellular health, eye health (as it improves blood flow through the minute veins in the eye), helps digestion, lung function (especially for asthmatics), the list goes on and on. The negatives are that it can cause mild diarrhea when you first take it as the body disposes of any excess quite readily. Other than that, no other negative effects have been reported and it’s one of the safest things to supplement with. In other words, it has no known toxic side effects.
But what we are more interested in is how it affects you as a runner.
Firstly, most people will tell you running will wear out your joints. But if you use a low impact technique, like the one we promote and teach at Brewsters Running, this is not true. But if you are suffering from a pre-existing arthritic condition, MSM has been shown to help the regeneration of joints by aiding in the production of collagen and glucosamine. It helps flush out any fluids in the joints, leading to less inflammation and less pain. Injuries can also be helped with its regenerative effects on the body.
Then there is the effect it has on lactic acid. You know the stuff that your body releases when you hit that big hill late in a run making your legs feel like cement? Your body does metabolize (break down) lactic acid quite quickly, but even more so when MSM is used.
Running, especially at high intensities, can cause a lot of oxygen free radicals known as ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) where MSM is great at removing the ROS and speeding up your recovery times. I have even heard people use it in racing animals like horses and greyhounds.
One thing I would advise you to so though, is check the purity of any MSM powder you buy. This is very easily done, as pure MSM will clump together to a certain extent. Most powdered/crystalline products you get will have an anti caking agent (like sodium silicoaluminate) added to prevent this clumping. Quite simply don’t accept any product that has these kind of additives in them.
MSM is something I use daily and I would urge you all to give it a go. If you have tried it, I’d love to hear what your experience has been.