SULPHUR ALLERGIES AND MSM
MSM is an organic sulphur supplement and we are sometimes asked to clarify whether it is safe for use in people who have a “sulphur allergy”. The confusion arises from the term itself, as “sulphur allergy” is a very broad term which in fact refers to a specific allergy which isn’t to sulphur at all.
Sulphonamides are chemicals used in antibiotics and other medications (commonly known as sulfa drugs) which can trigger an allergic reaction if you have an allergy to them. Sulphonamides contain Sulphur, Oxygen, Nitrogen and Hydrogen, but any reactions that occur are due to the action of the sulfonamides as a whole, not the sulphur within them.
Sulphites/Sulphur Dioxide are often used as preservatives in snack foods and red wine, but also occur naturally during the fermentation process. Some people can be effected by sulphites, experiencing headaches or breathing problems, however sulphites are not the same as sulfa drugs or sulphur.
Sulphur is the element found in sulfonamides and sulfites, however it is also found in amino acids in the body and is an essential element of life. In fact, you cannot survive without sulphur, and so it is impossible to have an allergy to it. “Sulphur” allergies actually refer to sulfonamides or sulfites, and not to sulphur itself. Having an allergy to sulphonamides doesn’t imply that you will have an allergy to sulphite preservatives, or elemental sulphur.
To give a simple analogy, the poisonous berries of the deadly nightshade plant contain water, but that doesn’t mean that water itself is bad for you.
We recommend that anyone starting to take an MSM supplement should start off with a smaller dose and work up to a higher one slowly to give your body a chance to adapt. However, you should always consult with a medical professional before starting any new diet, exercise, supplementation or medication program.