Everyone wants to have healthy and beautiful hair. Thin, brittle, and dry hair can be a great concern for many people. Naturally, they look for solutions to help their hair.
With a variety of hair growth products available on the market today, natural treatment methods seem almost outdated. But some of the natural methods can be just as effective as the commercial hair growth products.
Have you ever heard of MSM? While it’s most often taken for joint pain, it also has the potential to help promote healthy hair growth and to lessen hair loss.
In this post, I am going to introduce you to MSM and answer some of the common questions regarding MSM for hair growth.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
What is MSM
MSM or Methylsulfonylmethane is also known as dimethyl sulfone or DMSO2. It’s the oxidized form of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), an organic sulfur compound from lignan.
MSM is an organic form of sulfur found in plants, animals, and human. It’s also found naturally in foods such as milk, calciferous vegetables, onion, garlic, egg, and fish.
We are supposed to get a sufficient amount of sulfur from the foods we eat. But the modern farming technique, conventional food processing, and cooking methods have significantly decreased the effectiveness of sulfur. In fact, most foods we consume today are greatly deficient of MSM.
There are many benefits of MSM. The reason so many benefits are attributed to MSM is because it provides the body biologically active sulfur.
If you didn’t know, sulfur is actually the third most abundant mineral in the human body after calcium and phosphorous. It’s needed for many different critical bodily function.
How Does MSM Help With Hair Growth?
So how does MSM help with hair growth? If you are in a hurry, here is the quick answer.
- MSM is believed to increase hair growth by either converting telogen to anagen or lengthening the anagen phase.
To fully understand how MSM helps with hair growth, it’s important that we look at the structure of hair.
Our hair is made from a tough protein called Keratin. Keratin is the type of protein that makes up your hair, skin, and nails. It forms a protective shield around the hair shaft and helps your hair stay elastic and youthful.
Keratin also contains a high sulfur content, the sulfur being present is almost entirely in the form of the amino acid cystine. There is no other protein that’s is so high in cystine as the keratin of human hair.
The hair shaft consists of 3 layers.
- Medulla: This is the innermost layer of the hair shaft. It’s composed of an amorphous, soft and oily substance.
- Cortex: This is the main component of the hair, containing mostly keratin and structural lipids which add elasticity, suppleness, and resistance to the hair.
- Cuticle: This is a thin protective outer layer around the hair, composed of cells shaped like fish scales that are layered one over the other.
If we focus on the cortex and its keratin-based structure. We find a sulfur-rich environment in the cortex.
As I’ve mentioned earlier that MSM contains an organic form of sulfur, which is one of the primary building blocks for your hair.
So it makes sense that MSM would help with hair growth because it gives your body one of its key building blocks for hair.
But how does sulfur (MSM) contribute to hair growth?
To understand how sulfur contributes to hair growth, we need to understand the hair growth cycle.
There are 3 phases in the hair growth cycle.
- Anagen (Growth Phase)
- This is the growing period of hair growth
- This phase typically lasts about 3 to 5 years
- Catagen (Transitional phase)
- At the end of the anagen phase, your hair enters the catagen phase.
- This is a short transitional phase that lasts approximately 10 days.
- This is a period where your hair growth slows and the hair follicle shrinks.
- Telogen (resting phase)
- Lastly, your hair enters the telogen phase.
- This is a resting phase when your hair is released and falls out.
- The follicle then remains inactive for 3 months and the whole process is repeated.
MSM is believed to increase the rate of hair growth by either promoting the conversion of telogen to anagen or elongating the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle.
This is mainly due to an increased level of sulfur to the middle layer of the hair, which is the cortex. This helps to strengthen hair and encourages hair growth.
Additionally, MSM also produces significant amounts of collagen, which is essential in the development of healthy hair strands.
MSM Hair Growth Study
The objective of this study was aimed to understand the effect of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) on hair growth promotion of magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) for the treatment of alopecia.
MAP is known to convert hair from telogen phase to anagen phase. Researchers wanted to evaluate whether or not the addition of MSM could further promote hair growth.
The test was performed on mice with a constant 7.5 percent MAP solution and 1 percent, 5 percent and 10 percent of MSM solution. Researchers applied these varying percentages of MAP and MSM solutions to the back skin of the male mice once a day for 20 days.
The study showed that the hair growth in the group treated with the aqueous solution containing MAP 7.5% and MSM 10% was better than the result in the group treated with minoxidil 5% solution.
The study also showed that the hair growth is dependent on the amount of MSM given in conjunction with MAP 7.5% solution. It concluded that topical application of MAP together with MSM appears to be useful for the treatment of alopecia.
Can You Use MSM To Promote Hair Growth?
Although the study doesn’t focus solely on MSM, it does provide some valuable information. From the study, while MAP alone is effective at promoting hair growth, the solution that contains both MAP and MSM are even more effective.
The higher the percentage of MSM in the solution, the better the results. Even though the researchers were not able to understand the exact mechanism of what makes MSM so effective. The results do speak for themselves. MSM can be useful in treating alopecia in mice.
Since the first study was not done on humans, can you still use MSM to promote hair growth?
Absolutely! I don’t see a reason to avoid MSM just because there is no research done on humans. In fact, many people can attest to the excellent results of MSM, including myself.
I personally take MSM mainly for allergies, but I also noticed my hair is shinier and softer, and my nails are much harder than before.
Does MSM Make Hair Thicker?
I’ve heard many positive experiences from people that use MSM. Some noticed a thicker hair after several months of using it.
Some of my friends and relatives color their hair more frequently because their hair is growing a lot faster with MSM. They also noticed that their hair feels thicker.
Our hair typically sheds up to 100 strands every day and grows about half an inch every month. Many people use MSM experienced double in hair growth rate, and the shedding has also decreased to 20 strands a day. And this ultimately results in a thicker hair.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a positive experience with MSM. Some people noticed no significant change in their hair growth after using MSM.
Personally, I haven’t noticed decreased shedding or thicker hair. But I’ve definitely noticed that my hair is a lot shinier and softer.
This doesn’t mean MSM doesn’t work. Since everyone reacts to a supplement differently. what works for one person may not work for others.
The only way to really know is to give MSM a try! I highly recommend the crystals form of MSM. The one I use is called the gold standard organic sulfur.
How is MSM Taken?
There are many types of MSM products available on the market. You can get MSM in the form of tablet, capsule, powder, or crystal.
The crystal form of sulfur has a bitter taste to it when you first start taking it, but the bitterness will go away once your body gets used to it. If bitterness is an issue for you, you can also get them in the capsule form. Be sure to check out my top 10 best MSM brand post so you can make an informed decision on the product that best suits your needs.
How MSM is taken depends on the brand you choose. Each brand has its specific instructions. Always follow the manufacturer’s dosage instruction.
Generally speaking, it’s recommended to take the capsule or tablet with food to minimize possible gastrointestinal discomfort.
When it comes to taking the crystal or powder form of MSM. It’s important to start out with a low dose and gradually work your way up to a larger dose. Be sure to check out this post where I shared helpful tips on how to take sulfur (MSM) the correct way.
Can You Put MSM Powder Directly On The Hair?
Aside from taking MSM orally, it also offers a lot of benefits when used externally. There is a lot of things you can do with MSM, such as making homemade lotion and cream, pain creams, eye drops and much more.
To answer the question, “can you put MSM powder directly on the hair,” of course, you can put MSM powder directly on the hair.
In fact, many people have experienced great results with that. Here is a post I put together that shares with you some of my favorite MSM powder hair recipes.
I believe if you use MSM internally and externally, you will see results much faster. But again, everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for others.
Personally, I’ve just started using MSM on my hair for about a couple of weeks now. I’ve definitely noticed a shiner and softer hair, but haven’t noticed much hair growth or less shedding.
I can’t really determine if MSM works for me in terms of increased hair growth and less shedding because I’ve only been using it for about a couple of weeks, so it’s still too early.
I believe with a regular and a long-term use of the MSM recipes, maybe in the next few months or so. I might notice a significant growth in my hair. I will write a post to update that when I experience that change.
MSM For Hair Growth Side Effects
There are currently no drug interactions listed for MSM. However, MSM can cause thinning of the blood. So if you are on a blood thinner such as Coumadin or aspirin. It’s very important that you talk to your doctor before taking MSM.
Currently, there is no Recommended Daily Allowance or RDA for MSM. If you take too much MSM, it might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, headache, insomnia, itching, or worsening of allergy symptoms in some individuals.
If you take too much, your body will simply excrete the excess sulfur out of your body through the gastrointestinal system.
Now don’t let this list scare you.
MSM is generally safe for most people if consumed within the recommended amount. So always follow the manufacturer’s dosage directions on the label.
Sometimes even if you take MSM within the recommended dose, you might still experience some flu-like symptoms, dizziness, headaches, or the onset of diarrhea. Don’t worry, these are actually normal and natural detoxification process.
They indicate a healing crisis, which means your body is adjusting in a healing way due to a sudden availability of oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your body.
These symptoms will disappear as your body acclimatizes and stabilizes itself.
One last thing, if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it would be wise to speak to your doctor before taking MSM.
How Long Does it Take For MSM to Work?
Human studies have shown that MSM enters the blood very quickly and will start working within 30-45 minutes. Most people will begin to notice the effects of MSM within two weeks of supplementation.
Since everyone is different, the results may vary. The brand and the dosage may also affect how long it takes for MSM to work.
The benefits of MSM may also be enhanced or decreased depending on other supplements or medications you are taking.
One of the recommendations I can offer is to take a photograph of your hair before starting your MSM regimen and then take periodic photos over the course of a year and compare the results. Evaluate each photograph whether you are starting to get thicker hair. If you start to receive compliments about your hair, it’s a pretty good indicator that MSM is working for you.
Also if you begin to see scar tissue fading away from your skin, this is another indicator that you are receiving the direct benefit from taking MSM.
Where to Buy MSM?
MSM supplements are available at any local health food store. You can also get them at a local pharmacy and most grocery stores.
There are a variety of MSM products on Amazon where they have hundreds of customers review.
You can also check out my post where I talked about the top 10 best MSM products to choose from. I am sure you will find the one that best suits your needs.
Alternatively, you can also obtain MSM naturally through the foods you eat. Foods such as milk, cruciferous vegetables, onion, garlic, seafood, and eggs are high in sulfur content.
But here is the catch. The heat actually destroys much of the sulfur content during cooking. That means it’s best that you consume foods unprocessed and raw in order to obtain the optimal amounts of this natural compound.
So if you eat primarily processed and cooked foods, you may be sulfur deficient. It wouldn’t hurt to supplement with MSM. That’s exactly what I do.
I do eat mostly vegetables, which are high in sulfur, both cooked and raw. Here are several of my favorite recipes.
I also take MSM in the form of sulfur crystals to help with my allergy problems. However, it also has helped my hair, nails, and skin.
While the study doesn’t focus solely on MSM, it does provide some valuable results. MSM can be useful to promote hair growth to those suffering from hair loss. However, further studies are needed to better understand MSM’s effect on hair growth.
While it’s not guaranteed that you will get results, but I do recommend you give MSM a try. You might end up getting some other benefits as well. And with the addition of other ways to get more MSM in your body naturally, you may see added positive results.
I hope this post has answered your questions. If you enjoyed and found this post helpful, don’t forget to share this information with others.
If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.
Do you take MSM for hair growth? Have you noticed a change in your hair, skin or nails since taking MSM? Let me know in the comments below.
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