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Pamela Clark

Note:  An MSM Study is currently under way.  If you are interested in participating, please follow this link: 

  MSM Study

Recently on the Holistic Bird list, a woman gave quite a convincing account of how supplementation with MSM allowed her Eclectus to become completely feathered.  He had previously had only down feathers covering his body, and had no flight feathers or tail feathers.  She had tried many, many things to solve the problem, all to no avail.  After reading her testimony, I decided to do a little research to see if I could determine *why* supplementation with this product might help feather picking birds.  Below is what I found:

MSM stands for Methyl sulfonyl methane and is a relatively new dietary supplement, which can be found at health food stores.  MSM supports healthy connective tissues, such as tendons and muscles.  Thus, it is being used to help in cases of arthritis and muscle pain, as well as for other conditions.

MSM is a naturally-occurring nutrient, and is an organic form of sulfur that is easily absorbed by the body.  It has a unique action on body tissues by decreasing the pressure inside the cells.  Thus, it assists with removing fluids and toxins from the cells.  Sulfur also plays a role in many other body systems.  Of most importance to us is the fact that it is present in high levels in skin, hair, nails....and feathers.  It is prevalent in keratin, the primary protein of which feathers are made.  Many of the amino acids, the building blocks of protein, have sulfur as a component.

It is often helpful in strengthening fragile hair and nails.  When humans are supplemented with MSM, nails show not only an increase in growth rate, but increase in toughness and resistance to chipping and cracking.  It also creates skin that is softer, smoother and more flexible.

MSM has also shown anti-parasitic action against Giardia, Trichomonas, roundworms, nematodes, Enterobuis and other intestinal worms.  Further, it assists the body in defending against allergic reactions and helps the body resist bacteria.

MSM ranks in the "extremely low" toxicity category with a toxicity profile similar to that of water.  When supplementation is undertaken, excess amounts are simply excreted by the body, since it is water soluble.

Sulfur occurs primarily in protein foods, including eggs, meat and fish.  It is also found in some legumes, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, turnips, sunflower seeds, garlic, lentils, soybeans, and yogurt.

My conclusion, after doing all this reading, is that supplementing feather picking birds with MSM could very well be a good idea.  At the very least, it can't hurt.  The recommended dose for humans begins at 2,000 milligrams per day.  Many people take well above that.  As I said, there is no danger of toxicity from excess supplementation. As to how to go about providing supplementation, there appear to be three ways. 

The woman who reported such good results on the Holistic Bird list used the pill form of MSM.  She purchased Nature's Plus Brand - MSM, RX Wellness with Vitamin C and cut each tablet into 4 pieces.  She placed 1/4 tablet into her bird's water dish each day.  She did not indicate what size this water dish is.  She did mention that it did not dissolve particularly well.

Another listmember was already using MSM, and reported that she uses the crystalline form.  The form she purchases is actually made for horses and is made by Vita Flex. She indicated it is quite good quality, and provided the website for the company, which is

I already had a bottle of MSM in my cupboard because I've known of the benefits for humans for some time.  The kind I have is a liquid made by Innovative Natural Products.  Their customer service line is 1-800-893-7467.  I purchased it at my local health food store.

Additional information is available below. The first is a book, while the remainder are websites.  Some of the following websites will only have MSM "hype", since they are also websites marketing the supplement itself.  These sites are included as potential sources for purchase. Other websites provide more solid information about MSM itself.  Follow this link for information on the MSM Study.

Book:  Vitamins for Dummies, Christopher Hobbs, L.Ac. and Elson Haas, M.D., 1999


1. MSM - Nutriteam. Find an overview of the sulfur compound MSM and its medicinal uses. Includes clinical study details, related links, and ordering information.

2. MSM - NuGen Nutrition.  Guide to organic sulfur offers a list of health problems which it treats, and details on resources where it can be found. Find a Q&A form.

3. Nutritional Sulfur MSM.  Find out more about the supplement Methylsulfonylmethane, and its supposed effects and benefits.

4. Dancing Wolf, Inc.  Methylsulfonylmethane, MSM Ice Crystal; Tablets MSM, strength building Macro Nutrient in vertebrate diets, repair muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, connective tissues, enzymes, immunoglobulins, nails, hair, MSM Ice Crystal Tablets 1000 mg,no additives.

5. MSM - Advanced Medical Nutrition, Inc.  Browse a profile of MSM, a naturally-occurring sulfur compound and dietary supplement. Includes details on the metabolic process.

6.  MSM - Practical Health.  Profile of this nutrient explains how it contributes to the dietary supplement MSM. Find dosage tips, and details on other sulfur compounds.

7.  MSM - Drugstore.  Description of this organic sulfur includes an details on indications, chemical actions, and natural sources. Find a reference list.

8.  MSM - HealthWorld Online.  Overview of this mineral includes details on its sources, functions, and historical uses. Find details on toxicity and daily requirements.

9.  MSM - Whole Health Center.  Find price and ordering information for this mineral, usage suggestions, and an explanation of its therapeutic uses and possible side effects.

10.  Methylsulfonylmethane & More.  World Image Naturals offers its product list which includes MSM. Get details for ordering.

11.  MSM.  Find out about this supplement MethylSulfonylMethane which is supposed to relieve many symptoms including those associated with severe allergy.

12.  Alternative Medicine Digest.  Guide to alternative supplements, including Methylsulfonylmethane, Grape Seed Extract, and Cat's Claw.

13.  Encyclopedia

14.  All-Natural.  This site has an article which provides a further list of references, as follows:

"Total Health" 1998.  "MSM".  Feb/Mar, Vol., 20 No. 1. pp. 30-31

Williams, S. 1997.  Nutrition & Diet Therapy (8th ed.). Academic Press, N.Y., N.Y.

Thomas, C. 1993. Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, (17th Ed.). F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA.

Mindell, Earl L., The MSM Miracle - Enhance your health with organic sulfur, "Keats Good Health Guide", Keat's Publishing, Inc., New Canaan, CT 1997

Herschler, R.J., "Methylsulfonylmethane in Cosmetics", 1984, Cardinal Associates, Inc.

Whitaker, J., "Try MSM for Relief from Muscular pain", Health and Healing, Oct. 1997

Kirschmann, J.F. and Balch P.A., Prescription for Natural Healing, Avery Publishing, Garden City Park, NY, 1990

Additional links:

Cardinal Nutrition



Bulk MSM

Dave Draper

Nature's Vitamins


MSM Study


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Last Update:  01/28/01