Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a naturally occurring organic sulfur compound. Sulfur is an extremely important compound as it forms disulfide bridge “links” between hair and skin proteins. MSM is found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. Researchers have also found that MSM has unique antioxidant effects and anti-inflammatory properties which may be helpful for inflammatory conditions such as hair loss.
Studies suggest that MSM supplements may also be helpful for various inflammatory disorders. This includes arthritis, joint pains, and acute exercise-induced inflammation.1
Inflammation is also a component in hair loss. Irritation of the scalp can cause itching, scratching, and further hair loss. Certain kinds of autoimmune such as alopecia areata or alopecia totalis hair loss also have a central inflammatory component. Reducing inflammation is central treatment of these hair loss conditions. Read on to learn how MSM may help hair growth.
Research: Does MSM Work for Hair Growth?
MSM and Inflammation
MSM is known to possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Inflammation in the scalp and hair follicles can potentially contribute to dandruff, itchiness, and other conditions that can result in hair loss or stunt hair growth. By reducing inflammation, MSM may soothe the scalp and support healthy hair.
MSM is essentially organic sulfur. Sulfur is also one of the most abundant components of keratin, the protein that makes up hair, nails, and epidermal tissue. MSM is a natural source of sulfur, and it is readily absorbed. This may encourage the formation of keratin and contribute to stronger hair.3
Study Suggests Topical 10% Concentration of MSM Increase Hair Growth
In a mouse study, researchers evaluated the effects of topical MSM for hair growth used in conjunction with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Researchers tested aqueous solutions of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate 7.5% with concentrations of MSM at 0%, 1%, 5%, or 10%. These solutions were applied to the shaved backs of male mice once per day for a total of 20 days. Results were based on visual scoring on a hair growth quantification scale, transdermal penetration, and intradermal retention studies performed in vitro.4
Results of the study showed that the group given the solution with a 10% concentration of MSM had increased hair growth that was comparable to a 5% minoxidil solution. Promotion of hair growth was found to be dependent on the MSM dosage in relation to the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate solution. Results also suggest that the presence of MSM increased the transdermal retention of the magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. This shows evidence that topical application of MSM and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate may help to promote hair growth and prevent hair loss.4
How to Make Topical MSM for Hair Growth
1. Mix ingredients (10 grams of MSM powder, 15 grams of aloe vera juice, and 75 grams of water) thoroughly
2. Pour into spray bottle
3. Spray directly on scalp and leave on overnight (once per day for a month)
4. Wash hair in the morning
Study Suggests Oral MSM Support Hair Health
In another study, researchers evaluated the effects of a nutraceutical containing 400mg of MSM, 200mg of hyaluronic acid, and 500mg of L-carnosine on two groups of women affected by facial skin photoaging. Participants took a daily dose of the nutraceutical or a placebo.
Although the study mostly examined effects on facial tissue (the treatment group showed significant improvements in facial skin hydration and elasticity), the nutraceutical was also found to positively affect non-skin tissues, including hair. The subjects who had taken the nutraceutical reported notable improvements in their hair, including both appearance and texture, compared to the placebo group.
However, the study was unable to confirm if this was caused by MSM or a combination of all three compounds in the oral supplement.5 More research is necessary to full determine if MSM can support hair growth and the most optimal dosage.
Daily Dosage of MSM
As MSM supplementation is still undergoing research for its effects on hair growth, there are no official guidelines for recommended dosage. However, MSM is generally recognized as safe and is well-tolerated by most people at serving sizes of up to 4 grams orally per day. There are few known side effects, and those that are known are considered mild.6
MSM is readily available in the form of a pill or capsule taken orally, but it can also be found in the form of a powder that can be incorporated into shampoos, conditioners, and other hair care products. You can also find topical creams and serums that can be applied to the scalp to support hair growth and reduce thinning or balding hair.
Sources of MSM: Foods and Supplements
Supplements can take much of the guesswork out of how much MSM you actually get every day, but the sulfur-rich compound is readily found in a wide range of foods. Whole grains and most fruits and vegetables contain some amount of MSM.7 MSM is also found in a variety of common beverages, including tea, coffee, beer, and milk7
The amount of MSM in these foods and beverages can be small, though its prevalence means that you can get a large cumulative amount of the compound through your basic diet. However, it should be noted that cooking and processing methods can decrease the amount of MSM in these foods. To optimize the amount of MSM, it’s recommended that you eat these foods raw or unprocessed.
Side Effects of MSM
As mentioned, a number of toxicity studies show that MSM is considered safe for use in oral doses up to 4,000 milligrams per day with few known side effects.6 Some mild side effects that are known include gastrointestinal problems and headaches.7
For topical applications, those with sensitive skin may experience mild irritation.6
MSM is best known as a source of structural sulfur for hair and skin but has an anti-inflammatory effects. Both of these properties are helpful for hair growth and there is evidence that MSM supports hair growth safely and with few known side effects.
For these reasons, DrFormulas® HairOmega® 3-in-1 contains both MSM and DHT blockers to support healthy hair growth. While MSM supplements are considered safe, consult your doctor to determine potential interactions with existing medications.