What is sulfur?

Sulfur is a chemical that is abundant in the human body. Proteins, vitamins, and other elements in the body contain sulfur, which plays an important role in many processes that are vital to life.

Some people believe that taking sulfur supplements (capsules or powders) has various benefits, such as protection against allergies, osteoarthritis, and muscle soreness. Additionally, topical sulfur products are touted as a treatment for a range of skin conditions.

This article explains the possible benefits of oral and topical sulfur preparations, how to use them, side effects, and what you should know before trying sulfur supplements or skin products.

This video has been medically reviewed by Meredith Bull of North Carolina.

What is sulfur used for?

Sulfur plays an important role in the human body and is required for the production of key proteins and the building blocks of these proteins, known as amino acids.For example, the synthesis or production of amino acids requires sulfur cysteine and Methionine. These amino acids are part of a powerful antioxidant called glutathione.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances in your body that prevent cell damage, so they can protect you from different types of diseases and diseases

Sulfur is found in a variety of foods and is also available as a supplement. dimethyl sulfoxide (dimethyl sulfoxide) and Methanesulfonylmethane (MSM) is a type of sulfur supplement. While these products are widely available, research on the health benefits of sulfur supplements is limited. So far, research has focused on a few key areas of interest.

joint and muscle pain

Sulfur is part of traditional remedies used around the world to treat a variety of ailments.


MSM, a natural sulfur compound found in many foods, can help people with different types of osteoarthritis.

Research suggests that MSM may act as an anti-inflammatory and may protect cartilage. For people with arthritis, the result is less pain and better joint range of motion.


balneotherapy It is an alternative therapy that has been used for hundreds of years in Europe, Asia and the Middle East to relieve joint and muscle pain. In balneotherapy, inflamed or stressed joints and muscles are bathed in hot springs and water containing sulfur and other rich minerals.

Research on the effects of balneotherapy is mixed. It has been shown to significantly reduce pain and improve quality of life in people with osteoarthritis. However, a 2015 study found that there wasn’t enough evidence that it helped relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Bottom line on balneotherapy: It can be used with other treatments to reduce low-grade inflammation and stress-related pain or tightness. However, doctors don’t know how or why these sulfur-containing treatments are helpful, so they can’t fully endorse them.

Natural Osteoarthritis Pain Relief


As an anti-inflammatory drug, MSM appears to reduce inflammation triggered by abnormal immune responses that can affect people allergic to food or environmental factors.

In a randomized, double-blind study, researchers showed that MSM can significantly relieve allergy symptoms. Taking 3 grams of MSM daily for two weeks helps allergy sufferers breathe better and reduce nasal congestion.

One of the great benefits of MSM is that it produces fewer side effects than prescription drugs such as antihistamines. However, to date, there is insufficient evidence that MSM can adequately replace prescription allergy medications.

natural allergy remedies


Dandruff is actually associated with a skin condition that causes itching, flaking, and possibly redness and inflammation.Sulfur is FDA-approved for use in over-the-counter dandruff products, which typically include Salicylic acid acid.

Few studies have been conducted since a small study of people with dandruff in 1987. The study showed that when people used shampoos containing sulfur and salicylic acid, they reported less scaling and dandruff. Further research is needed to determine whether this treatment is effective.

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Rosacea is a skin condition that looks like adult acne but is very different. It causes red, swollen areas on the face, red bumps and an enlarged nose.

Sulfur preparations have been shown to significantly reduce redness and damage caused by rosacea. These topical formulas, which are creams or lotions applied to the skin, also appear to have few side effects. However, some people are allergic to sulfur products.

Treating rosacea with diet and skin care


Sulfur is a mineral that is vital to good health. In addition to supporting bodily functions, it also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that it can help relieve skin irritation associated with dandruff and rosacea. It also reduces inflammation caused by arthritis and allergies. More research is needed to understand how sulfur works and how it can best support good health.

possible side effects

Not enough is known about oral sulfur supplements to determine that they are safe. However, there are also reports that MSM and DMSO may cause certain side effects, such as:

  • headache
  • Dizziness
  • nausea
  • diarrhea

Sulfur is POSSIBLY SAFE when used topically. In the four-week-long clinical study, participants safely used products with sulfur concentrations up to 10 percent.

It is important to note that self-treating the disease with sulfur and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences. Consult your doctor if you are considering using sulfur supplements to treat a medical condition.

Dosage and Preparation

There is no recommended daily sulfur content. Most people get enough sulfur in their diet to meet the body’s needs. However, at least one study suggests that people over the age of 75 may have insufficient sulfur intake.

There is no standard dosage for sulfur supplements. Little is known about oral supplements to make such a recommendation. However, various topical doses have been used in research to be effective and safe.


  • Dandruff: A shampoo containing 2% sulfur and 2% salicylic acid has been shown to successfully treat dandruff when used twice a week for five weeks.
  • Scabies: Studies have shown that 8% and 10% sulfur ointments are effective for scabies three days in a row and three nights in a row.


Researchers continue to study how sulfur supplements support good health, but little is still known about the safety and proper use of oral and topical treatments. In general, lotions and creams appear to be safe, but oral supplements may cause indigestion, dizziness, and headaches. There is no standard recommended dosage for sulfur supplements, so check with your doctor about the dosage that is right for your needs.

what to look for

Sulfur can be purchased online and sold in many natural food stores and stores specializing in dietary supplements. Many people see sulfur supplements sold in capsule form or in crystal form for bathing.

When looking for sulfur supplements, you’re likely to see many MSM products. MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur-containing organic compound.it is also sometimes called dimethyl sulfone, methyl sulfone, Sulfonyldimethaneor Crystalline dimethyl sulfoxide. MSM is also known as “organosulfur”.

The term “organic” is used to describe it because it’s a carbon-containing molecule, not because it meets the USDA’s criteria for using the term in agriculture, production, and food marketing.

Keep in mind that supplements are largely unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). When choosing a supplement, be sure to check the product label to see if it contains any other ingredients.

While it is illegal to market a dietary supplement product as a treatment or cure for a disease or to relieve symptoms of a disease, the FDA does not test products for safety or effectiveness.

When choosing a supplement, try to find products that are certified by ConsumerLabs, USP, or NSF International. These organizations do not guarantee that the products are safe or effective. However, they do guarantee that the product is correctly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.


There are a limited number of high-quality clinical trials related to sulfur supplements and topical treatments. In general, creams and lotions seem to be safe to use for skin problems or joint pain. Antidandruff shampoos that contain sulfur are also considered safe.

Whether DMSO and MSM oral supplements are beneficial is unknown, and they may cause some mild side effects. Before you add anything to your regimen or spend money on unproven supplements, discuss the pros and cons with your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What foods contain sulfur?

    Sulfur occurs naturally in foods such as dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, seafood, onions, garlic, radishes, kale, and broccoli.

  • What sulfur substitutes are there for joint pain relief?

    Practicing yoga or tai chi and/or receiving acupuncture may help manage and reduce arthritis pain and enhance function in some people.

  • Does sulfur smell bad?

    Pure sulfur has no odor. People often think that the smell of rotten eggs is caused by sulfur, but it is actually hydrogen sulfide.