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MSM for Hair Growth: Does It Really Work?

MSM clinical studies of hair growth positive results

With a variety of chemical-laden hair growth products on the market today (such as Rogaine and Propecia), natural treatment methods seem almost outdated.

What if I told you, however, that an all-natural supplement, one which is found naturally in our bodies and abundantly throughout the world, could help to lessen hair loss and even promote hair growth?

Today, I’m going to introduce you to MSM, a sulfur-rich compound which has been slowly gaining some buzz over the years.

You’ll first learn what MSM is, as well as how MSM is believed to work to promote hair growth.

Second, I’ll highlight the scientific research showing MSM’s effectiveness at promoting hair growth in mice (Hint: The results were comparable to, or even better than, Minoxidil!)

Third, you’ll learn how to use MSM supplements most effectively and where you can purchase the supplement.

Note: To learn whether natural methods will help in the reversal of your hair loss, take the six-question quiz at the bottom of the article.

What is MSM?

MSM stands for methylsulfonylmethane. This sulfur-rich, organic compound is used in a variety of industries, including health and beauty, pharmaceutical, and food.

Sulfur is a chemical element which may promote hair growth.Known by a few other names, including DMSO2, methyl sulfone, and dimethyl sulfone, MSM is found abundantly in nature, as sulfur is one of the building blocks of life.

How Does MSM Work?

To understand how MSM works to promote hair growth, let’s first take a look at the structure of hair.

The shaft of the hair is made up of a three-layered structure. On the inside is the medulla. Surrounding the medulla is the cortex, the most fibrous part of the hair strand which contains mostly keratin and structural lipids. On the outside of the hair is the cuticle, consisting of dead skin cells which form a protective layer around the hair.

The hair consists of three layers: the medulla, the cortex, and the cuticle.

Focusing in on the cortex and it’s keratin-based structure, we find a sulfur-rich environment.

Now, as mentioned above, sulfur is a building block of life. It’s the 7th or 8th most abundant element within the human body, and there’s no doubt that it contributes significantly to health and wellness.

But how does sulfur (and thereby, MSM) contribute to hair growth?

The hair growth cycle consists of three stages. They are anagen (growing), telogen (intermediate), and catagen (resting or shedding).

For those looking to promote hair growth and reverse hair loss, anagen is the sought-after stage. MSM is thought to either promote the conversion of telogen to anagen or lengthen anagen, mainly due to the deliverance of sulfur to the middle layer of the hair. This both strengthens the strand and encourages further growth.

Additionally, MSM also produces significant amounts of both collagen and keratin. These are essential in the development of healthy hair strands.

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What Does the Research Say About MSM for Hair Growth?

If you’re considering MSM as a hair growth treatment, you’re in luck! MSM has been shown to have positive effects on hair growth.

A 2009 study aimed to learn whether MSM, when combined with Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP), could be used to effectively treat alopecia in mice.

MAP is known to convert hair from telogen phase to anagen phase. Researchers, however, wanted to know whether the addition of MSM could bolster these hair-growing effects.

First, researchers prepared the mice by shaving their backs and then applying thioglycolic acid 80% cream to complete hair removal.

Next, researchers prepared a variety of solutions for use in the study.

Some of the solutions contained MAP only, others contained a combination of MAP and MSM, and still others were controls of either saline (negative) or Minoxidil (positive).

MAP and MSM solutionsMAP and MSM solutions

Visual scoring of the mice was done as shown below:

visual scoring of the mice

Now, let’s take a look at the results of the study.

Shown below are visual hair growth scores of six solutions over a number of days.

MAP and MSM hair growth chart results

As is seen above, the solution of MAP-MSM 10% has the best scores overall, showing increasingly more hair growth as the period of time increased.

And here’s a visual look at the mice.

MAP and MSM visual results

Is MSM Effective at Treating Hair Loss?

While the study above doesn’t focus solely on MSM, it does provide us with some valuable results.

The study shows that, while MAP alone is effective at promoting hair growth, the solutions containing both MAP and MSM are more effective overall.

The more MSM which was present in the dermal solution, the better the results shown.

Unfortunately, researchers weren’t able to pinpoint the mechanism which makes MSM so effective. However, the results do speak for themselves showing that MSM can be effectively use to treat alopecia in mice.

So, can you use MSM to promote hair growth?

While no human studies have been done, there’s no reason that similar results cannot be seen on humans as they are shown above in the mice.

How to Supplement with MSM

There are a variety of MSM supplements available on the market, though the most common forms include powder, capsule, and tablet.MSM capsules are a common way to add the supplement to your diet.

I recommend that you choose the supplementation format you’re most likely to use on a regular basis, as this plays a key role in how well MSM will work for you.

To take MSM, you can add the powder to smoothies or just plain water. As for the capsules and tablets, it’s recommended you take with food if you are sensitive to gastrointestinal side effects which may occur.

To lessen the impact of said side effects, begin taking the supplement in doses which are less than recommended.

Gradually work your way up to the recommended dose, pulling back and starting again at a lower dose if side effects are noticed.

Brands, Availability, and Cost

MSM is available both online and in stores, typically found in the joint support section of the pharmacy. This is due to its sulfurous makeup, which contributes to inflammation and pain relief.

Doctor's Best brand Best MSM SupplementThere are no brands that I prefer or promote, but I do recommend finding an additive-free choice, such as Doctors’ Best Best MSM.

Price will vary by brand and location, though Amazon has a few options ranging from 120 capsules at $7.59 to 240 capsules at $16.09.

When choosing a brand, be sure to consider dosage amount.


Further studies are necessary to better understand MSM’s effect on hair growth. However, the current research does give a glimmer of hope to those suffering from hair loss.

While results cannot be guaranteed, I urge you to give MSM supplementation a try. You may find supplementation to be beneficial for hair growth and scalp health. And, with the addition of other all-natural treatment methods and the use of chemical-free shampoos, you may see added positive results.

Are you unsure whether your hair loss is reversible? Take the six-question quiz below to find out!

Is Your Hair Loss Reversible?

Question 1 (of 6)

How many years have you had hair loss for?
Select the number of years below.

  • Luis says:


    What do you think of applying magnesium oil that has MSM in it to the scalp ?

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