What is MSM? Can it Help My Natural Hair Growth?

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It’s always a pleasant surprise when you stumble upon a vitamin or supplement that can cure some of the most common health issues, while also giving you a nice little beauty boost. And such is the case for MSM!

I was recently chatting with a newly natural neighbor (try saying that 3 times fast!), when she asked about supplements she could take for hair growth. I suggested MSM. I guess she expected me say something like biotin or a multivitamin, because she instantly looked confused. So I explained that MSM, aka methylsulfonylmethane, is a sulfur-based compound that is naturally found in many foods such as milk, onions, garlic and green vegetables. Next to water and salt, MSM is also the 3rd largest compound found in the human body. Within the medical community, MSM has been traditionally used to treat pain bone and joint diseases such as osteoarthritis and tendonitis. But it also has a really cool side effect. And this really cool “side effect” is hair growth.

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How is this possible?

The main ingredient in MSM is sulfur- one of the principle building blocks of hair (and nails). So MSM helps hair growth because it gives your body a building block for hair. But besides just contributing one of the main building blocks of hair, it is also theorized that MSM increases hair growth potential by lengthening the growth phase (anagen phase) of the hair cycle.

Where to get MSM?

You can find MSM supplements at any local health food store or pharmacy. Or you can just skip the pills and powder supplements and just focus on getting MSM from your food. But sometimes that’s easier said than done.

In addition to a healthy diet, I also take an MSM supplement. I primarily do this because, although MSM can be naturally obtained through a healthy diet, the cooking process and other factors can diminish MSM content in foods.

What Else Is MSM Used For?

MSM can be used to treat a variety of conditions including:

• Muscle and bone problems
• Chronic pain
• Hay fever
• Allergies
• Asthma
• Snoring
• Stretch marks
• Wrinkles
• Eye swelling
• Dental disease
• Stomach upset
• Constipation
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
• Obesity
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Type 2 diabetes
A Few Precautions Before Taking MSM

There is no recommended daily allowance for MSM, but high doses can cause MSM might cause nausea, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, headache, insomnia, itching, or worsening of allergy symptoms in some individuals. And although MSM is generally for most people, not much in the medical literature is known about its safety during pregnancy and breast-feeding. So if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding it would be wise to consult your physician before taking this supplement.

Do you take MSM for hair growth? Have you noticed a change in your hair or nails since taking MSM?

This article was originally published on November 2011 and has been updated for grammar and clarity.

37 Weigh in!:
Anonymous said...

It helps with snoring, allergies, asthma, obesity, dental disease, and more, and the side effect is longer hair?? Sounds amazing!! I've gotta stop by the health food store and get me some!! But what type of msm supplement do you use Dr. Phoenyx?

Neesha Cherie


I still have some in my medicine cabinet... bet it's older than Methuselah.

Anonymous said...

I have been taking MSM for a couple of months somewhat off and on and haven't really noticed a difference in my hair. I'll have to give it a more concerted effort and measure the results.

Anika said...

Hey Nik

How come you dont use it? Did you notice any difference while taking it?


@Anika, only because I truly hate pills. I have a powder, Green Vibrance that I love and it contains EVERYTHING.

Anonymous said...


How does Green Vibrance taste? Do you mix it with into smoothies?

Ashley B said...

This was a very informative article. I've been considering taking MSM and it's good to know what this pill is really all about.

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty said...

Wholefoods carries their own brand of Skin, Nails and Hair Vitamins with MSM. It's quite affordable. I got it on sale at $7 for 100 pills but it's normally $9.

I usually take 1 or 2 of these babies with my Tea of Life (Ladies, Google this one. It's amazing because it helps to stabilize blood sugar, boosts energy levels naturally and a host of other health benefits. You can get it in tea or capsules) each morning.

Anonymous said...

I have taken MSM for about a year for joint pain. My hair growth is about average, but joints feel fabulous and my PMS is less severe. I do have trouble sleeping.

Anonymous said...

I once took an MSM supplement and it gave me horrible acne. I stopped taking it. Now, I get mostly all of my nutrients from natural food sources. I feel much better, have more energy and skin/hair and nails are better than ever. It requires a commitment to healthful eating, but the benefits have been tremendous.

BTW: There has been some recent concerns in the scientific/medical community about whether vitamins/supplements are needed or are detrimental to our bodies.

Anonymous said...

@Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty...question; so you drink the SN&H vitamins with the Tes of Life. Do you add anything to your tea?

I've been saying that I'm going to add vitamins to my regiment, but now I will for sure!!


Phoenyx Austin, M.D. said...

@Neesha- I take a generic CVS brand MSM supplement. It is in capsule form. You can also find MSM in powder form. Lots of women like this because it can be easily added to other foods like smoothies.

Hermione said...

I have heard about MSM before and considered using it when my hair first feel out. However, I discovered 7 years ago, in a painful way, that I was severely allergic to sulfur. While I dont have any food allergies, I'm just too scared to take it.

Anonymous said...

Almost all of Qhemet's products contain MSM. I've noticed a lot of growth since using them.

Denise Brooks said...

Because MSM is so popular, companies can just mass produce any ole thing, slap a 'MSM' label on it and they know they will have a ready market. So what brand you buy is just as important just like with anything else.
MSM is ok but once your system gets used to it, when you stop (or forget for a week or so) ur hair, skin, and nails can revolt so be careful especially if you plan to take it in high doses. I find that iron pills are AWESOME supplements. If the MSM is not working, to increase sulphur (a hair friend indeed) use old faithful, sulfur 8.

Anonymous said...

The sulfur in sulfur 8 is chemically different from MSM sulfur.

Anonymous said...

broke me out badly, and the only reason i did notice haiur growth was because my facial hair was becoming more prominent. Also messed my cycle up!

Bridget said...

I have been taking MSM pills for several months now and I have definitely noticed a change in my skin and nails. My previously acne prone skin is now very smooth and clear. I still get small breakouts from time to time but nothing like I used to before taking MSM. I have had a number of friends compliment my skin and ask me what I am taking. As for my nails, they grow a lot faster now. Even my nail person has commented that my nails are growing faster. As for my hair, I honestly don't know just yet. The skin and nail changes were quite apparent and happened quickly. Until approximately two weeks ago, my hair appeared to be stuck at the same point for the last several months. Now it appears to be growing again. Perhaps it just takes longer to realize the results in the hair. I will contintue to take MSM regardless because I mainly started taking MSM for joint pain which has improved tremendously. I am practically pain free when running and doing step aerobics now.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago I use to take MSM. I cannot remember why I was taking it, but it was the newest thing I was into at that time. Although my hair was relaxed it was in great health. I had a head full of healthy long hair!

Michelle @Radiant Brown Beauty said...

@Anonymous 11:28am I just pop the supplements in my mouth and use the tea to wash it down. Really, I do it this way so I won't forget :-)

I use Organic blue agave to sweeten the tea but that's it.

Anonymous said...

I have been taking it daily for about a year and I have noticed a huge difference in growth. This week I think CVS has their brand on sale Buy one get one free!! Time to restock.

Anonymous said...

I use the powder (best masked in V8 Splash Juice) I didn't pay attention to the hair growth aspect. I can attest to energy and helping with pms and joint pains. When I start again I will measure.

I just wanted to add if one is going to use it, take it in the morning because it stays in the system for 12 hours and can cause sleep disruption. Also measurement is done by weight. Google the formula to determine how much you should take.


Anonymous said...

I take one 1000mg capsule daily, faithfully, because when I stopped for a few months, my hair thinned.

Anonymous said...

How much MSM should I take and in what form?

You should take whatever form is convenient for you. You should always take the least possible amount of msm that gives you the relief you desire. Drink lots of water with msm. For first time users of MSM, it is better to take with meals to help prevent heartburn. First time users start at a low level and build up. Try 1000 mg or (eighth to a quarter teaspoon) per day. Take it for that way for one week then increase it another a little more. Once you have taken it a long time you will be able to take it without food. The recommended dosage is 2,000 to 6,000 mg. per day, depending on your gastrointestinal tolerance. Please be aware that a single dose of MSM will not help! The recommended dosage for a person weighing 150 lbs. should begin by taking 1/2 teaspoon once in the morning and mid afternoon. MSM needs to be taken for at least 1-2 weeks or even up to two month before you may see results. When MSM is taken by mouth with meals whether it be capsule, crystal, flake, powder or tablet form, the body will distribute MSM where it is needed. The precise dose of MSM is not really that critical. For the first week or two, larger doses of MSM may be needed to compensate for an extreme deficiency and depending on your situation.

Anonymous said...

The above comment was found at: http://www.arthritis-msm-supplements.com/faq.htm

Anonymous said...

This is so timely. I just bought MSM powder with OptiMSM after research on LHCF.


It's only been 2 weeks but my back pain is gone and my foot pain is better. No hair updates though. Also, there is a youtube vid for those interested in mixing MSM in hair products



--Blue Bonnet MSM Powder OptiMSM from WF, 8oz $6-8, 1/2 tsp = 2,600mg
--1-2 tsp ea morning mixed w/V8 Splash and Lily of the Valley Aloe Gel
--Headaches first 3 days but IMMEDIATELY (like seconds) went away with water
--At 1-2 tsp my dose is 5200-10,4000 mg per day
--No side affects except weird dreams :)

Try ordering from Vitacost or Lucky Vitamin or Swanson's for better discounts. I started with a high dose immediately by accident but it works for me. Acne sufferers need to try MUAC's 30% adjustable TCA peel, referred by an actress I know, it gave me perfect skin.



LifenotesEncouragement said...

One other thing that MSM does is make your breasts grow - i didnt like that so i stopped taking it. I originally started taking a supplement for my joints - i noticed no difference in my hair, but my hair always grows but i couldnt understand my boobs. i saw this info on another hair site, put 2 and 2 together and that was that.

Mahagony Chicas said...

After taking biotin and MSM, I've noticed scars from childhood fading away. Its another wonder pill! Now I did notice growth in combo with biotin so I don't know what to attribute the growth to. I do have very vivid dreams which I didn't attribute to MSM until I read a thread on LHCF,=. The dreams aren't scary just vivid.

Anonymous said...

I have allergies to Sulfur... any alternates that you can suggest...

Anonymous said...

I am happy to hear about MSM. I have tried Biotin before however I am interested to try something new. However I am a little confused. I am new to the natural world and big chopped this past summer. I heard we should use Sulfate free shampoo but isn't Sulfur equivalent to sulfate just a different form? Help me out!

NaturalDiva said...

I currently use Hairfinity healthy hair complex with MSM in it. I've been using it for 8 months now and I can tell you that for me it stopped the shedding and breaking of my hair. My hair has also grown. Yes it is a more expensive vitamin that someone on youtube recommended and I tried one month supply then I stopped using it and noticed that my hair started shedding again so I started back using it again but if you want to completely stop using it then you have to slowly wing yourself off of it with another vitamin.

Morenike Catherine said...

MSM made me break out terribly. Is it possible to gain any benefits from adding it to deep conditioners?

Leanna said...


Anonymous said...

I have allergies to Sulfer (Sulfa) as well. MSM is chemically different.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone tried MSM shampoo and or conditioner, is there any benefit to using MSM topically in this manner? Someone please chime in with your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ladies,
I have been taking MSM for about two weeks and I currently love it. But before purchasing it, I did some research online and it is recommended to take MSM with Vitamin C to absorb better throughout the body. Some of you may have a not so great reaction to it because you may already have high levels of MSM (sulfur) in your body.

Belix said...

Also Puritan.com has an offer of buy one get two free. They are really a reliable site and affordable too! I get my vitamins from them. I am due for a refill, my bottles are almost empty!

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