Tuesday, December 9, 2008

1,000–8,000 mg of MSM Has No Effect on Hair & Nail Growth – Experiment Conclusion


Onions are a much tastier source of sulfur than MSM. (Photo by tanakawho)

This is the conclusion of my MSM experiment.

I've now been taking MSM powder for about four months. The idea was to see whether it has an effect on the growth of hair and nails, as it is claimed to do by some people.

Unfortunately, it doesn't.

I began the experiment by taking a powder that had 1,000 mg of MSM, 600 mg of glucosamine and 400 mg of chondroitin per portion (read about it here). I later started taking it with vitamin C (read about it here), which is sometimes suggested to increase absorption. After seven weeks, I hadn't noticed any effects (read about it here) on either hair or nail growth.

I then switched brands and bought a jar of pure MSM powder to increase the dosage. For three weeks, I took 4,000 mg of MSM, which was more than the amount given to the subjects in the study discussed below. I first took it all in one dose, and then tried separating it into two doses of 2,000 mg each (read about it here). Again, nothing happened.

Now, for the past three weeks, I've been taking a whopping 8,000 mg of MSM each day, which is more than I've seen or heard anyone else take. I've divided it into two doses of 4,000 mg, one taken in the morning and one later in the day.

No matter what the dose, I have seen absolutely no results from this foul-tasting powder during these four long months.

The rate of my hair growth has not increased; the rate of my nail growth has not increased; the thickness and brilliance of the hair has not increased; and the thickness and appearance of nails has not increased.

The study, which, as far as I know, is the only one studying the effects of MSM on hair and nails, doesn't seem to be peer-reviewed and is not available via pubmed. In the hair part of the study Lawrence reports:

INTRODUCTION: A total of 21 patients were studied for 6 weeks for the hair study component. The subjects were randomly assigned to either Group A (placebo) or Group B (LIGNISULMSM).

Sixteen of the subjects were men and 5 were women. Dosage was 3,000 mg/day in both Groups A & B.

The study participants were studied for hair length, brilliance, and diameter of the individual hair fibers using industry standard measurement scales at the beginning of the study period (t=0) and after 6 weeks (t=6 weeks).

RESULTS & DISCUSSION: Those subjects supplemented with LIGNISULMSM showed significant improvement in hair health, while those on placebo showed either no change, or only slight changes after 6 weeks. The most marked changes were measured in hair length and hair brilliance. The women showed the better results in hair growth, brilliance, and thickness of hair fibers.

All subjects supplemented with LIGNISULMSM were duly impressed with the changes in the health and appearance of their hair. The cosmetologists literally could differentiate which participants were on LIGNISULMSM by the appearance of the hair alone after 6 weeks.

It is expected that if the study were continued for 8 to 16 weeks, the results would have been even better for those on LIGNISULMSM as has been our past experience.

CONCLUSION: This pilot double blind, random study proves that oral supplementation with LIGNISULMSM is a valuable addition to hair care. Hair health was significantly improved in a short term of 6 weeks.

And then the nail part:

INTRODUCTION: A total of 11 patients were studied for 6 weeks for the nail study component. The subjects were randomly assigned to either Group A (placebo) or Group B (LIGNISULMSM). Dosage was 3,000 mg/day in both Groups A & B.

The study participants’ nails were measured for length, thickness, luster and general appearance using industry standard measurement scales at the beginning of the study period (t=0) and after 6 weeks (t=6 weeks).

RESULTS & DISCUSSION: Those subjects supplemented with LIGNISULMSM showed significant improvement in nail strength, thickness and appearance. Results would be better at periods of over 8 weeks from our clinical experience, but it was felt to be too difficult to keep clients enrolled in the study if it lasted longer than 6 weeks. This way we had no dropouts. Overall improvement rate was 80% even in this short study. All subjects supplemented with LIGNISULMSM stated they would continue to use LIGNISULMSM on an ongoing basis based on the improvement in nail health and appearance that was observed.

CONCLUSION: This pilot double blind, random study proves that oral supplementation with LIGNISULMSM is a valuable addition to nail care. Nail health was significantly improved by 80% overall in a short term of 6 weeks.

So according to the study, not only was MSM effective, it was effective in all participants receiving MSM. This bold statement by itself should make one very sceptical. Could it really have been that effective? How many other hair loss remedies have you heard of that claim to be 100% effective? That's right, none.

Both parts of the study mention using "industry standard measurement scales", but what exactly these measurement scales are is unclear. I assume they actually did measure things like hair thickness instead of just providing the subjects with a questionnaire. A subjective evaluation is almost meaningless when trying to estimate things like hair growth speed, since people are notoriously bad at making such evaluations themselves. Heck, a lot of people still think cutting their hair makes hair grow faster!

Still, even with assumed objective measurements we are left with some questions. How did they measure hair growth if the study only lasted for 6 weeks? How did they rule out seasonal variation? How does one measure "hair brilliance"? What does "nail luster" really mean?

So, based on the fact that only one study exists (and that the study may very well be flawed), and the fact that it had no effect on me, my conclusion is: it doesn't work. Certainly not in everyone, as the study suggests.

My first suggestion to anyone considering buying MSM is not to waste your money. Try something else instead, if you want to experiment (like green tea, for example).

My second suggestion is to take anecdotal evidence about MSM with a grain of salt. A lot of people who are experimenting with hair growth are taking all kinds of supplements, so even if they do see effects, there's no way of knowing whether it's the MSM or something else that's working. Besides, usually even the positive evidence is quite conservative ("I think my hair is growing faster, but I'm not sure"), which suggests people may just be imagining things.

Personally, I'm sort of disappointed it didn't have any effect on me. On the other hand, I'm glad I'm finally rid of it.

Having said that, if you've had positive effects from taking MSM, be sure to leave a comment and share your experience.

For more information on hair growth, see these posts:

Vitamin E Tocotrienols May Grow Hair in Humans
3 Quick Ways to Find Out Whether Your Hair Growth Product is Working
Green Tea Extract Grows Hair in Vitro, May Work in Vivo
Mixture of 5-Aminolevulinic Acid and Iron Increases Hair Growth in Mice



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32 kommenttia:

Anonymous August 4, 2009 at 7:15 AM  

I have been taking OptiMSM for 2 months at 4000mg a day, and I no longer break out, my skin is tighter and blemishes have cleared. I have started growing lighter brown hairs on my arms and legs and chest, as well as my face, which is strange though considering I have jet black hair naturally. I am kind of worried about that because it is kind of strange.

JLL August 5, 2009 at 3:26 PM  

@Anonymous,

Interesting, I've never heard of lighter hair growth happening from MSM. Are you taking anything else at the same time?

Anonymous October 3, 2010 at 3:14 AM  

I have to say that I love this product for my skin! I no longer break out on my skin also. I take 4000mg twice a day for about 3 months now. I am not too sure on the hair and nail growth though!
Thanks!

Anonymous June 18, 2011 at 7:17 AM  

msm does not make your hair grow longer. it increases your growth phase, meaning if your hair grows a year then sheds after taking msm your hair will grow maybe 6 yrs then it sheds in turn leaving you with longer hair.

JLL June 21, 2011 at 10:50 AM  

@Anonymous,

Sounds like they're the one and the same thing.

Anonymous August 27, 2011 at 10:10 AM  

msm stops me getting mouth ulcers (which I've suffered with all my life), or stops them fully developing and becoming painful. I'm 100% sure of this, have taken it, stopped for 6 months and started again after I made the connection. I tried it for hair loss too but no results with that. but it definately does someting for me.

Anonymous September 13, 2011 at 7:06 PM  

It could possibly be the case that your hair and nails were already at maximum thickness, growth rate, and strength.

Perhaps you have/had all the sulfur you need. If that was the case then you would not have benefited from extra MSM.

Try the experiment again when things change for you.

Anonymous September 24, 2011 at 3:07 AM  

I've been taking 2000mg a day for a month. It has cut my hair shed to about 5% of what it normally did. My hair constantly shed, wouldn't grow longer than my shoulders and I had 3 different hair lengths on my head due to constant regrowth. I'm astounded at the results of MSM. I will sing it's praises forever. It has even given me the growth rate of an inch in 4 weeks. I can't believe it. I think you can only see a difference if you have a shedding/regrowing problem in the 1st place.

Anonymous January 23, 2012 at 7:05 PM  

Body can only absorb 1000mg of msm each 4 or 5 hours. So if you want to see results, two doses of 4000mg aren't good!
of those 4000mg yo have absorbed only 1000mg, so not a big study...

Anonymous March 27, 2012 at 6:15 AM  

You need other amino acids to help msm work and grow better. Copper, zinc, collagen are just a few needed supplements our bodies need for skin and hair. Research adequately

Anonymous June 26, 2012 at 5:16 PM  

I recently started taking a vitamin regime after reading a lot of hair blogs and realizing I was severly under-nourished. Before I get started- let me tell you a little about myself. 20 yrs old, 5'3, 100 pounds. I had tried so many different things trying to improve not only the length of my hair, but also the growth and shine. To put it nicely, my hair was completely lack-luster. It was dry, brittle, and seemed like it was constantly shedding. Last summer I spent almost $300 on a botched keratin complex that completely ruined my hair (WARNING: STAY FAR AWAY FROM THOSE TREATMENTS).ONCE a day I take: (1) ONE women's one-a-day multivitamin for women over 50 yrs (more antixoidant rich) (2) ONE 1,000 mcg biotin (3) TWO 1,500 mcg msm/glucosamtine. So far, it has been one week.. which is still too soon to tell about the shedding part. However, I've noticed a significant difference in the luster of my hair. It is softer, shinier,and more managable than it has ever been and I can run my fingers through it with ease. It also seems like the baby hairs around my scalp have started growing faster. My co-worker even made a comment on how shiny it was, saying it looked like "movie star hair." No one has EVER made that kind of comment about my hair before! She had me write down my vitamin regime for her. Not only does MSM work wonders for hair, I've been doing a ton of reading up on it and the health benefits are unbelievable for something that is 100% organic. Maybe if you tried supplementing the MSM with other things like I do it would work better- I've seen that it needs Vitamin C to kick in to action. I've also read that it only works on 70% of people. Who knows, maybe you are actually at full sulfate capacity. But I recommend trying my regime to anyone who is reading this blog. Please, don't hesitate to ask for my email if you'd like to get more in detail about it. I was literally filled with joy after I blow-dryed my hair last night and I saw how different it looked. It is SO worth a try. I may start taking one MSM in the morning and one at night though after reading your body can only absorb 1,000 mcg at a time- thanks for the tip!

JLL June 27, 2012 at 11:13 AM  

@Anonymous,

In one week, your hair would not have grown enough for anyone to notice, and supplements can't have an effect on hair already outside your scalp. Only shampoos, conditioners etc. could have had an effect on the luster of your hair in one week.

- JLL

Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 8:15 PM  

I swear by MSM that it gets rid of my peptic ulcers. I'm so prone to them. I spent a month returning to my home state to visit family and friends and didn't take my usual MSM and vitamin C...I noticed I started to develop ulcers again and found it impossible to eat! Came back and got back on MSM and I am ulcer-free!! Also, my skin is firm, nails and hair grow longer. I think 4000 mg twice a day is overkill, honestly.

allyson stronach July 7, 2012 at 9:33 PM  

It is clear that for you, taking varying levels of MSM, in concert with gluchosamine, chondroitin, and vitamin C, (while changing brands of MSM ), did not yield any effects,but I would caution against coming to such a strong conclusion given that your experiment is statistically VERY underpowered. (One one subject?!). Plus, you did not isolate your variable: MSM. I read this headline hoping for more than an anecdote--because it does seem strange that this other study claims that MSM improved the hair quality of EVERY person taking it (and that this study also does not make clear what exactly is being measured, "brilliance"? --as you mentioned). However, your experiment does not disprove that study because you did not replicate the conditions of the study. You should have first measured the diameter, length, and "brilliance" of your own hair, then waited 6 weeks without taking MSM, then you should have re-measured the 3 conditions, and taken 3,000mg of MSM for 6 weeks, and then re-measured the diameter, length, and "brilliance" of your hair--just as the study had done. If you had done this, then you would have been able to post your experiment as a true response to this initial study (albeit incredibly underpowered). Because you did not, the title of this article is misleading. I do think there is validity in replicating this study, but I don't think it was done here. This is just another anecdote, which is also useful in its own way.

Anonymous September 18, 2012 at 7:00 PM  

you have to combine msm with vitamin c for maximum results! 10 g msm/day + 4 g vitamin c/day = a miracle!!

Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 5:59 AM  

I'm currently using MSM. And it works!! When I started using MSM my hair was 17" (June), now it's Sept and my hair is 20". The breaking/shedding has reduced significantly. I started out taking only 500 mg and didn't see any result. Each week I increased the dosage by 1000 mg. I didn't notice any growth until I started taking 6000 mg/day. My nails became rock hard and very long (I have to trim them every other week now). What I first noticed was my nail growth and my hair getting VERY thick! Then my hair grew longer. My hair is still getting thicker and still growing longer. Folks at work were in awe (and so was I!). I take it with Vit C (you're supposed to take at least twice the amount of Vit C with MSM to assist the effectiveness). It works for me. Thanks.

Anonymous September 24, 2012 at 6:04 AM  

I'm currently using MSM. And it works!! When I started using MSM my hair was 17" (June), now it's Sept and my hair is 20". The breaking/shedding has reduced significantly. I started out taking only 500 mg and didn't see any result. Each week I increased the dosage by 1000 mg. I didn't notice any growth until I started taking 6000 mg/day. My nails became rock hard and very long (I have to trim them every other week now). What I first noticed was my nail growth and my hair getting VERY thick! Then my hair grew longer. My hair is still getting thicker and still growing longer. Folks at work were in awe (and so was I!). I take it with Vit C (you're supposed to take at least twice the amount of Vit C with MSM to assist the effectiveness). It works for me. Thanks.

Anonymous December 5, 2012 at 9:30 PM  

JLL passed away from MSM in July. I would stop fast.

Anonymous April 30, 2013 at 3:45 PM  

You should never say it doesn't work, period. As it can work for others and not you. So you are ultimately misleading the general population with your opening comments and web page title. I have personally experienced a spike in both hair and nail growth in past with MSM. If you are going to inform the public, you need to be more responsible with your words.

Anonymous April 30, 2013 at 3:47 PM  

You are not being very responsible with your opening words, nor your webpage title. MSM has worked for me for both hair and nails in the past. Just because it doesn't work for you , does not meant it won't work for others.

Calli August 25, 2013 at 12:08 AM  

Did I ever say that it grew? I was talking about the shine and luster. Maybe you should actually read everything someone says before you make opposing comments, Jill. And that's absolutely not true about shampoos and conditioners being the only thing that can have an effect on your hair after it has left the scalp. But I guess a non-believer like you will never know :). Also, why would I have taken the time to write this if I was lying about it?

Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 10:24 PM  

I have been taking MSM for about a month now and I can truly say the benefits are amazing. The first thing I noticed was clearer skin and stronger nails. My nails went from brittle to weapons (meaning they are extremely strong). I cant wait to see what effects its having on my hair. Currently my hair is braided in a protective style but the skin benefits are definitely worth taking this stuff.

Anonymous September 4, 2013 at 10:27 PM  

I have been taking MSM for about a month now and I can truly say the benefits are amazing. The first thing I noticed was clearer skin and stronger nails. My nails went from brittle to weapons (meaning they are extremely strong). I cant wait to see what effects its having on my hair. Currently my hair is braided in a protective style but the skin benefits are definitely worth taking this stuff.

Anonymous November 1, 2013 at 6:36 PM  

Msm is sulphur a required mineral so your trying to discredit god, your hair skin and nails are made of it, one of most important so it Will help.

Anonymous February 2, 2014 at 6:18 AM  

Hi there, I actually only take 1,000mg per day and have noticed that my hair no longer sheds, it has more body, and I have more energy throughout the day. I've tried a few MSM products and they are not all equal. I would say make sure your source is super clean and you'll get the results you want.

Nerida Nine March 22, 2014 at 11:03 PM  

I have used MSM for years (off & on). Now I use it daily (5000 mg/day). I started out taking 500 mg and worked my way up. MSM has the sulfur in it that our body requires. As we age, our sulfur deplenishes. Therefore, MSM supplments what our bodies needs. Since starting back taking MSM my nails first started growing Very Fast!!! and rock hard. Secondly, my thinning hair started to get thick. Next came the growth of my hair and the clearer skin. I am now blemish-free. I take the same amount of vitamin C with the MSM, as well as biotin. MSM has so many health benefits. Just be sure to "over-drink" water daily to allow it to fully help distribute it through your body and to avoid break-outs and severe detoxification. For those who don't get the benefits they're looking for, it could be that your body doesn't need any additional MSM - therefore you're not seeing any phenominal results (maybe.....I'm not a doctor). I'm 57 and my nails and hair were thinning terribly. Now that I'm taking MSM, I have to trim my nails about every 4-6 days and my hair keeps getting thicker. I'm a keeper!

Lolly June 15, 2014 at 7:40 AM  

I started using MSM (2000mg) two months ago for my hair. It was a disaster. I began to shed so baldly I thought I would go bald. I have stop using it now but it's ruined my hair. I have been trying to grow my hair for the past year, it was doing fine until I stupidly took the MSM, now I had to cut 4 inches of my hair off because the ends were so dry and brittle and would just snap off. So depressing.

Penny July 7, 2014 at 3:41 AM  

How would MSM ruin the ends of your hair when the new growth is at the scalp?

Anonymous July 10, 2014 at 6:26 AM  

Right

Anonymous August 12, 2014 at 4:00 AM  

Lolly ur comment makes no sense at all...you having to cut off 4 inches off your hair has nothing to do with the MSM and everything to do with your hair care habits. MSM works from the inside meaning it would only affect the hair that grew out of your scalp after taking it.

Anonymous November 11, 2014 at 4:03 AM  

I am 56 with ever thinning hair, my son recommended that I take MSM as a post workout recovery aid, after 4 weeks my nails became very hard and my hair has changed. It has become thicker and fuller - and I have tried everything to get that to happen. I take a teaspoon full of MSM and a the same amount of vitamin C power together every morning.

Anonymous September 16, 2015 at 7:23 PM  

I have been taking 2k of MSM daily for over a year for back pain. I've had severe side effects which turns out to be a huge plus!!! I have clearer skin, thicker hair and have had more energy. I just purchased a jar of powder as I want to try a different delivery. I also recommended it to friends who have severe skin issues/acne etc. After a few months of daily use their skin has cleared up. One must keep taking it daily for it to build up in your system. I truly cannot speak highly enough about MSM....And it is non toxic and safe to take along with Vit D3 and C. You might experience a little stomach discomfort and or break out some on your back however it will disappear as it is just a normal for your body to detox at first all the bad stuff that has been lingering in your body. Yes DETOX!

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