MSM (methyl-sufonyl-methane) is a biological sulfur found in plants, soils, fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry, eggs, meats, and milk. And as omnivores, many of us humans have a readily supply of it through what we eat. Equines rely on their plant based diets for their sources of sulfur.
Sulfur is one of the five basic elements of life; it is found in every cell in the body and is structurally and functionally important to hormones, enzymes, antibodies and antioxidants. Sulfur itself is held mainly in muscles, skin, bones, nails, and hair. It is essential for the synthesis of collagen, plays a role in energy production as a component of insulin, and is essential in maintaining the body’s crucial acid/alkaline (pH) balance.
The cycle of organic sulfur compounds begins in the oceans where microscopic plankton release sulfur compounds. These compounds (salts) are transformed in the ocean into a very volatile compound that escapes from the water as gas, which in turn rises into the upper atmosphere. This gas is exposed to ozone and ultraviolet light where it is converted into DMSO and MSM, which then returns to the surface of the earth as rainwater. Plants take up the two compounds into their root systems and concentrate them into their plant structures. Although MSM is found in food, commercially MSM (the clear crystals we’re all familiar with) is manufactured using a chemical synthesis process of reacting two raw materials: dimethyl sulfoxide from petroleum and hydrogen peroxide from methane.
This synthetic reaction process forms a new molecule: MSM. This processing requires a purification to remove excess impurities. There are two different processes for purification: distillation and crystallization. Distillation requires heat, taking the separate compounds to their unique boiling points (anywhere from 400 to 478 degrees). Crystallization requires solvents. Typically US made MSM is a result of the distillation process, while MSM from China and India is generally made by the crystallization process.
If you are seeking to supplement your horses with a plant sourced sulfur, look to kale as one of the richest sources of sulfur in the plant kingdom. Garlic is also is a high sulfur source. There are some advantages to feeding sulfur from plants: your horse gets the added benefits of the enzymes, fiber, and the co-factors found in whole food. The matrix found in whole food diets is one of the keys to digestion, bioavailability, and cell utilization in the body. Feed chopped kale at ¼ cup to 1/3 cup per day. Kale can be food processed and frozen for convenience.
Overall equestrians and riders can benefit from MSM to support healthy connective tissues like tendons, muscle and ligaments and thus is helpful for health challenges such as arthritis, and muscle pain. MSM sulfur is actually considered the building blocks of protein. The substance also removes toxins from the blood and lymphatic system, and is beneficial for the entire body.
Thank you Tigger Montague for this information!