GHP August 2015

ghp August 2015 | 33 research In the nineties of last century, MSM was welcomed as a strong contender for the title ‘Nutraceutical of the Next Century’. The FDA had released MSM as a dietary supplement for the human market, and the godfather of MSM, professor Stanley Jacob of the Oregon Health Sciences University, had just released his exciting first book “MSM, the Natural solution for Pain” , followed a few years later by his second book “MSM, The Definite Guide” 1, 2 Fifteen years have passed since, and it is time to take a look where MSM is standing now. MSM is an abbreviation of methylsulfonylmethane (or dimethylsulfon), an organic form of sulfur bound to two methyl groups. The chemical formula of MSM is CH3SO2CH3. It is the form in which sulfur appears in nature in all living organisms, and in which it is biologically active. MSM is an odorless, white, crys- talline powder that is highly soluble in hot water and in a wide range of organic solvents. ANCIENT MOLECULE MSM has been present in the oceans, soil, and atmos- phere of Earth for eons. It has been collected by plants and eaten by animals for nearly as long. It is part of nature’s great sulfur cycle, upon which all life depends. To better understand the significance of MSM, we have to go back to prehistoric times when oxygen was still absent. Only after terrestrial flora started to develop hundreds of millions of years ago, the atmospheric oxygen gradually increased. Long before that, oceanic algae started to produce short-chained organic sulfur compounds. Upon algal death and release into ocean water, organic sulfur molecules were quickly converted to DMS, a volatile sulfur compound that escapes into the atmosphere. In this suspended, gaseous state, the DMS reacts with ozone and ultraviolet sunlight to create DMSO and DMSO2, known as MSM. MSM then falls to the earth dissolved in rain drops, where it is collected and concentrated in plants. Figure 1: The Earthly Sulfur Cycle Short-chained organic sulfur compounds may have been the first and most important sources of energy for algae, and for all life forms that developed afterwards. Some scientist suggest all higher life forms present today may, be genetically programmed to use short-chained organic compounds such as MSM, as preferred source of energy and building blocks. This assumption is supported by the discov- ery, MSM is one of the least toxic compounds known, and can be taken by animals and humans in almost unlimited amounts, without toxic side effects. Even 48 hours after consumption, half of the MSM is still present in the body and MSM can still be found in the urine after 480 hours. This makes MSM a safe and stable nutritional source for the body. In the US, MSM is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). SUPPLIER OF METYLGROUPS AND SULFUR Research with radio-active labelled MSM shows, each molecule MSM is broken down after consump- tion into a clean sulfate (SO4) group and two methyl (CH3) groups, without any rest groups. In biochem- ical text books you may learn, the amino acid me- thionine would be a main supplier of methyl groups for the body. However, when methionine is broken down the potential toxic rest molecule homocysteine remains. High blood levels of homocysteine have been associated with numerous and serious health problems. Additional use of high doses B-vitamins may be needed to regenerate homocystein into methionine, or further metabolize into less harmful substances (figure 2). Figure 2: MSM versus methionine as donor of methyl groups and sulfur. MSM however, does not only yield more methyl groups then methionine, it leaves no potential toxic rest molecules behind, a crucial difference. Though sulfur is a crucial element for the body, the importance of MSM as a sulfur donor may be over- rated. MSM may be far more important for the body as a clean supplier of methyl groups, which are the building blocks of all organic molecules. It is difficult to even imagine the importance of methyl groups for our health. Molecules are constantly broken down in the body, and reconstructed. We call this ‘Methylation’, the process of adding methyl groups to a molecule. Methylation is involved in almost bio- chemical reaction in the body, and occurs billions of times every second in our cells. Proper methylation contributes to a wide range of crucial body functions, including DNA synthesis, immune function, energy production, detoxification and mood balance. Low- ered methylation function may contribute to many major chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, immune dysfunction, neurological problems and mood disorders. Detoxification is an ingenious process during which harmful substances are step-by-step broken down in algae sea land msm dmso inorganic sulphur organic sulphur DMS CH3-S-CH3 DMSO CH3-SO-CH3 air MSM CH3-SO2-CH3 Vit B12 Vit B6 Folic Acid SO 4 2- Sulfate SO 4 2- Sulfate (CH 3 -SO 2 -CH 3 ) (CH 3 ) (CH 3 ) (CH 3 ) Methyl group 2 Methyl groups Cystein Homocystein Methionine SAM-e MSM