The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial led by Linda Kim of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine involved 50 male and female suffers of mild to moderate knee OA pain, aged 40 to 76 years.
Divided into two groups, the participants took either a twice-daily 3g oral dose of MSM or a placebo over a 12-week period.
The pain relief effects were assessed using Western Ontario and McMaster University Osteoarthritis Index visual analogue scale (WOMAC).
Compared to the placebo, MSM was seen to deliver a significant reduction in pain scores (P=0.019) and physical function impairment (p=0.044).
Participants taking the MSM were also seen to experience an improvement in their performance of the activities of daily living (P=0.021).
No adverse events, such as those commonly reported with NSAIDs and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, were identified during the short-term intervention.
The results of the study were presented at Vitafoods earlier this month by Jeremy Appleton, director of scientific affairs and R&D at Cardinal Nutrition, which supplied MSM for the trial in the form of its OptiMSM product.
MSM occurs naturally, but in quantities too small for extraction. According to Appleton, this means that all commercial quantities must be synthesized.
When manufactured correctly, commercial MSM is chemically identical to that found in nature, he said. As well as its use as an anti-inflammatory, previous studies have suggested applications for rheumatoid arthritis, cancer prevention, lupus, hayfever and snoring.
"We do expect this study to open up new markets for OptiMSM, as certain brands are only interested in ingredients that have peer-reviewed, published research," Appleton told NutraIngredients-USA.com.
The study has not yet been accepted for publication in a journal, but it is hoped that it will be in the near future.