An interview with Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

Q: How does sulfur act as an antiinflammatory agent?

A: Sulfur is only a small factor in how Lignisul MSM works; it is not the major factor. MSM is a "sister" or "brother," if you will, to DMSO [dimethyl sulfoxide], which has been around for many, many years. DMSO is a natural substance; MSM is a natural substance, and their actions resemble each other.

MSM contains sulfur, but the sulfur is only a relatively small part of the action. The body's need for sulfur exists, but this is because sulfur is, by content, the eighth most prominent constituent of the human body. The action of Lignisul MSM or MSM is anti-inflammatory by virtue of its DMSO-like action.

MSM does not have the drawbacks of DMSO, which are: (1) The smell or odor that one has while taking DMSO, (2) MSM can be taken by mouth, and DMSO cannot be, (3) The action of DMSO. For example, when you put DMSO on the skin, it would carry various materials through as a solvent; it is a universal solvent, that action does not exist in MSM.
Therefore, the way MSM acts as an anti-inflammatory substance is similar to the way that DMSO acts as an anti-inflammatory substance. MSM produces anti-inflammation, it has the action of diminishing irritable pain; impulses along the nerve fibers to the involved area, which is another one of its actions.

The sulfur part is only a secondary role. Unfortunately, the booklets about MSM, to date, contain erroneous material that was included at the beginning of the MSM study, which is not proper. I hope I correct that impression. The booklets that have been put out are wrong, and fables began that were propitiated by these booklets because the people that wrote them did not do the necessary research to determine what MSM really is and how it works.

Q: What are the benefits of taking MSM?

A: MSM has multiple benefits. It is the most ubiquitous substance I have seen in 50 years of practicing medicine. It is almost as if you could use the word "elixir." MSM has many actions, but the actions I studied, when I published a paper on its action with osteoarthritis (degenerative arthritis), were: its activity in alleviating the pain and discomfort of degenerative arthritis. It is the first natural substance that I have ever seen that acts very strongly on rheumatoid arthritis (destructive arthritis). It actually has the effectiveness of any of the strong pharmaceutical agents that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and that is an exciting thing. There are two million people in the United States with rheumatoid arthritis. MSM is very remarkable.

MSM is great for any pain-type problem. It is widely used in the horse industry; it has been given to horses for the last 35 years. It helps the horses move better because muscle aches and sprains are improved.

Athletes are also using MSM to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Weightlifters take MSM in large quantities to reduce muscle aches, pains, and soreness that develops. MSM is a wonderful anti-inflammatory agent and muscle pain diminisher. This action is very important.

People who have muscle tension-type headaches because the muscles are sore in the head area are helped by MSM. As shown by Dr. Stanley Jacob, professor of surgery at Oregon Health Sciences, MSM is helpful with pollen allergies. It is useful for problems with the stomach and digestive system because it helps reduce hyperacidity. Therefore, people who take Zantac, Pepcid, and antacids find that MSM is very helpful. Dr. Jacob has also found that MSM markedly helps chronically constipated older people. These are just some of the things it does, it is amazing to see how much else. It even grows stronger nails in 30 days and makes the hair shaft more lustrous and thicker.

Q: Are there any problems with taking too much MSM? Are there disclaimers and cautions that go along with it?
A: No, that is the other wonderful thing. As Dr. Jacob always says, "It's safer than water." Its level of toxicity is extremely low. We do not have to have caution.

The worst that will happen is if you take about eight grams of it, which is way beyond the needed does is, you will have some diarrhea. But beyond the diarrhea, which does not last long, it is probably one of the least toxic things I have seen in natural foods and in any type of action.

MSM is a natural substance, and by virtue of its makeup it is hard to kill anything with it. Also, you can take MSM with or without food and not suffer any stomach upset. It can be taken along with any other drugs or supplements. By law we have to say, "Before you take this or any other food supplement, check with your doctor." That is the only disclaimer required.

Q: Have there been any unexpected reactions within the test groups?

A: No, and in our book on MSM (due in early 1999) we looked long and hard to find something that would be considered side effects. We found virtually nothing about side effects. Therefore, we put in very little in that regard, but we did carefully examine thousands of cases whether there were side effects.

Q: How may types of arthritis does MSM affect?

A: It works on all the arthritides, that is the wonderful thing. The most common type would be degenerative arthritis, but it works on all forms of arthritis.

Q: The study I saw only examined 16 people. How valid can a study be with only 16 people?

A: Well, most medical studies do not include large populations when they begin. It was a preliminary study, and such a study can be quite valid, especially since this one was double-blinded.

Q: They calculated 82% of the 16 people benefited, which makes one of those people a fraction. How did that work out?

A: That is a statistical method. When you are dealing with 16 people, unfortunately, when you pick up the average medical journal for preliminary work, you will find 10 people, or 12 or 20 people. That is an excellent question, by the way.
Small numbers cause research fractions. This is only a preliminary study. Based on my clinical experience, which is based on hundreds of people who have osteoarthritis, the stats hold at about 80 percent. The stats are the same for Dr. Jacobs as well, and he has a couple thousand people with degenerative arthritis.

Q: Has there been extensive investigation of MSM?

A: There has been a lot of investigation with DMSO. There has not been enough investigation of MSM in regard to human studies, but human studies are now being undertaken. It is something new.

Q: Are they large studies?

A: The studies being done now are nothing that exceeds 10 individuals. The largest study that is being undertaken is about 100 people, but I am sure as word gets out this year (1999), we will be seeing larger studies. The company that manufactures Lignisul MSM has set aside a larger amount of funding, and we will be getting more funding from them. You do not get government funding for a product that cannot be privatized like a drug. It is hard to get funding, but hopefully, since MSM is so wonderful and ubiquitous we will receive some government funding.

Q: It is completely natural?

A: Yes, it is a natural substance.

Q: Are there any other points you would like to cover?

A: Extensive toxicity studies have been done in Italy. They were done by a laboratory in a university that is world-famous for its toxicity work. I think we have nicely covered the area. The book, The Miracle of MSM: A Natural Solution for Pain, (Penguin Putnam, New York, Feb. 1999). It's in hard cover, and is a very intensive book of good material.

The opinions expressed in the previous article only reflect hose of Ronald M. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D. The editors and publishers of Nutrition Health Review recommend an individual seek the opinions of his/her/physician before taking any medication.
By Nicole T. Malandra

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