MSM for Horses

Is chronic/longterm use of MSM actually detrimental? Laura

Dear Laura,

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MSM, or methylsulfonylmethane, is believed to be a source of organic sulfur, required for a number of functions in the body. Sulfur plays critical roles in the formation of protein, connective tissue, immunoglobulins and enzymes. Therefore MSM is thought to support healthy joints; a strong immune system; and resilient skin, coat and hooves. However, MSM may do more than this. I shared a study on MSM in horses in a previous answer that shows it is a powerful antioxidant:

Marañón G, Muñoz-Escassi B, Manley W, García C, Cayado P, de la Muela MS, Olábarri B, León R, Vara E. Acta Vet Scand. 2008 Nov 7;50:45. The effect of methyl sulphonyl methane supplementation on biomarkers of oxidative stress in sport horses following jumping exercise.

There are lots of studies on MSM in humans, ranging from its effects in osteoarthritis to seasonal allergic rhinitis to cancer. For example, here’s the conclusion that this study makes on MSM, which they say is an effective natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory agent:

Usha PR, Naidu MU. Clin Drug Investig. 2004;24(6):353-63. Randomised, double-blind, parallel, placebo-controlled study of oral glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane and their combination in osteoarthritis.

CONCLUSION: Glu, MSM and their combination produced an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect in osteoarthritis. Combination therapy showed better efficacy in reducing pain and swelling and in improving the functional ability of joints than the individual agents. All the treatments were well tolerated. The onset of analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity was found to be more rapid with the combination than with Glu. It can be concluded that the combination of MSM with Glu provides better and more rapid improvement in patients with osteoarthritis.

All of these studies in people (lasting from 30 days to 12 weeks) say no major adverse events or side effects were reported. One report I read even said it’s one of the least toxic substances in biology, similar in toxicity to water! Researchers are still looking for harmful effects of short and long-term use of therapeutic doses of MSM, but as of right now none have been found.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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3 comments on “MSM for Horses
  1. Jane Coln says:

    I have been giving my mare MSM every day since she was 22 for arthritis with great results and no problems. She is now nearly 35!

  2. Ashley Randel says:

    My mare is also on MSM- it’s been a lifesaver! I firmly believe that MSM played a large part in her recovery from several pulled tendons about two years ago and helps keep her comfortable and sound in her event training today! She’s back to jumping after our vet said we could try, but she’d never stay sound- we have not had a lame day in 7 months!

  3. Amy Goodfellow says:

    We have been using MSM for our pony with respiratory issues and it has really helped. With it we have avoided steroids and he is very comfortable and happy!

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