The Health Benefits of Sulfur

The Health Benefits of Sulfur

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Introduction & Biological Role

Sulfur is a mineral found in hot areas such as hot springs & volcanoes. Sulfur is an essential component of living cells. It is a key component of many of the various proteins in the body. It appears to play a role in joint health and connective tissue health for things like cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

It has a distinct rotten egg smell. Sulfur comes in two forms: dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). DMSO an industrial product but also has a role in medicine.

Before I go on, it’s worth noting that sulfur as a mineral in human nutrition has not been studied extensively and there is a dearth of evidence supporting it’s use for the treatment, management or prevention of disease.

Health Benefits/ Uses

Skin Disorders

Sulfur baths, termed ‘balneotherapy’ meaning ‘bath therapy’ have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years to treat skin disorders. There is virtually no evidence that they actually help treat skin disorders, nor is there any good evidence that they harm them. The jury is out. Specifically people have suggested or used sulfur baths to help with acne, rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, dandruff, folliculitis, warts and pityriasis versicolor.

Arthritis

Several studies have suggested that mineral baths, including sulfur, can be used to help treat various types of arthritis including osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and psoriatic arthritis. Obviously, it didn't cure their arthritis, but it helped with day-to-day symptoms such as improved strength, decreased morning stiffness, improved walking, less inflammation, swelling and pain. Researchers have looked at the use of MSM or DMSO to treat arthritis, but the study results are mixed and weak and more research is needed.

Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever)

One study showed that MSM supplementation (2600 mg/day) reduced symptoms of seasonal allergies. Note that this is a single study and more research is needed.

Interstitial Cystitis

Interstitial Cystitis is inflammation of the bladder that causes symptoms consistent with a urinary tract infection, although it is not caused by infection. The FDA has approved DMSO As a treatment. This is done via direct injection to the bladder under the supervision of a physician.

Shingles

There is some early evidence suggesting that topical DMSO can be used to treat the symptoms of shingles, relieving pain, inflammation and the number of lesions.

Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a disease where proteins are deposited abnormally in your body leading to a potentially wide variety of medical problems. DMSO has been used by some doctors to treat this disease, however there are no clinical trials demonstrating its efficacy due to the rarity of the disease.

Deficiency / Toxicity

The signs and symptoms of deficiency and/or toxicity are not well known.

Sources

The best dietary sources are protein rich foods such as eggs, meat, poultry, fish, dairy and legumes. Plant sources include garlic, onions, brussel sprouts, asparagus, kale, wheat germ.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)

There is no recommended daily allowance from governing bodies. Most people get plenty through dietary intake. Topical or oral sulfur compounds should not be used without the supervision of a physician.

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