Many naturals are on the quest to grow long, strong and healthy hair as quickly as possible. I too have been caught in the hair growing hype and a few years back decided to jump on the MSM bandwagon.
What is MSM?
MSM stands for Methylsulfonylmethane, a sulfur-rich organic compound that is one of the building blocks of life. Sulfur is the third most abundant element within the human body and is crucial for our health and wellness. In fact, MSM is used in the medical community to decrease joint and arthritis pain, anti-inflammatory use, and speeding recovery time after exercise. So how did this idea of MSM for hair growth begin to develop?
MSM for hair growth?
Some people who were supplementing MSM for other medical conditions, noticed an increase in hair growth, with clearer skin and longer nails. Let’s examine the science surrounding this idea.
As we learned in the previous blog post regarding the structure of hair, hair consists of three layers, the medulla, the cortex, and the outer most cuticle. The cortex contains mostly keratin proteins and lipids which are held together by disulfide and hydrogen bonds. These disulfide bonds or sulfur bonds are formed by cross-links between the cystine amino acid and the main polypeptide chain. These cystine bonds are responsible for 90% of the strength of your hair. So, what does this have to do with MSM? Research suggests that MSM has long been thought of as a sulfur donor for sulfur-containing compounds such as methionine and cysteine. In other words, the sulfur bonds in MSM may be used to increase the strength and toughness of the hair strand.
Additionally, in one study, MSM along with Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) extended the hair growth cycle in mice. The hair growth cycle consists of three stages, the anagen (growing), catagen (regression), and telogen (resting). In this study, MAP and MSM were used to convert hair from the telogen phase to the anagen phase of the growth cycle. This is important since the anagen phase is the growing phase and determines the length of one’s hair. In this study, MAP alone was effective in growing hair but more effective when combined with MSM, the more MSM used, the quicker and stronger the hair grew. Unfortunately, there have been no human studies conducted regarding the use of MSM to grow one's hair. However, many scientists are continuing research in this field.
Though research is still advancing, many feel using MSM is worth the try. If you are interested in increasing MSM in your diet check out the list of MSM rich food below.
MSM rich foods
· Tea & coffee
· Swiss chard
· Raw fruit
· Onions & Garlic
The National Institute of Health has not recommended a daily allowable (RDA) use of MSM; so, before use, it is recommended to speak to one's medical doctor. This is particularly true for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
MSM supplements is a Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) approved substance and can be found in health food stores, grocery stores and pharmacies. For most adults, MSM is considered safe when taken in smaller doses such as 500 to 1000mg. High doses can lead to insomnia, fatigue, headaches, kidney problems, and nausea. Again, as always, please speak to a medical doctor before beginning any supplements.
Have you taken MSM before, if so, what was your experience?