Sulfur is a naturally occurring mineral that plays an important role in forming and stabilizing your body’s protein structures. It can also help relieve arthritis symptoms and many different skin conditions. While there’s no established daily dietary allowance for sulfur, most people don’t suffer from a deficiency.
Forms of Sulfur
Sulfur supplements are available in two forms: dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Roughly 15 percent of DMSO you consume breaks down to MSM in the body. DMSO is used as an industrial solvent as well as for medicinal supplements, so make sure any DMSO you take is not labeled as industrial grade — if it is, it could contain harmful impurities.
Sulfur Taken as a Supplement
Sulfur supplements, specifically MSM, may help reduce pain from conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis by helping to slow the nerve impulses that transmit pain signals in your brain. One 2002 preliminary study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people who took 2,600 mg of MSM per day for 30 days experienced reduced seasonal allergy symptoms.
Natural Treatment For Arthritis
Many topical creams and products contain sulfur and may help treat a variety of skin conditions, including psoriasis, dandruff, warts, rosacea, and acne. DMSO creams and mud baths, commonly referred to as balneotherapy, may help relieve stiffness, inflammation and pain associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. An Israeli study conducted in 2000 and published in Rheumatology International found that patients with psoriatic arthritis who received balneotherapy at the Dead Sea experienced improvement in several symptoms, including stiffness, swollen joints, and inflammatory neck and back pain. Symptom improvement for back pain was greater among patients who received mud baths and sulfur baths than among patients exposed only to the sun and the Dead Sea itself. Topical DMSO preparations may also help relieve the pain and swelling associated with shingles.
Natural Sources of Sulfur
Some of the best sources of sulfur are protein-rich foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, nuts, and legumes. MSM also occurs naturally in eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, and horsetail. If you consume a vegetarian or vegan diet, eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables, such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. The sulfur-containing chemicals in these vegetables contribute to their strong scents and bitter tastes.
While you shouldn’t stop any current treatment you’re undergoing for arthritis or skin conditions, adding sulfur to your treatment plan may help improve your symptoms. Don’t give sulfur to anyone under 18 years old, and always consult with your doctor or healthcare professional before adding any supplements to your diet.