OptiMSM®: The purest form of MSM

MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is a small molecule with an enormous importance for the body. The chemical formula of MSM is CH3SO2CH3. It is a small and light molecule with a molecular weight of 94, which makes MSM well absorbed by the body. MSM is a natural and biological active source of sulfur for all living organism. Fruits, vegetables and milk of meadow grazing cows are rich sources of MSM. It is an inodorous white powder that dissolves well in warm water and in a great number of organic solvents.

For more than fifty years MSM has been studied by scientist all over the world. The research started in the sixties of last century by professor Stanley W. Jacob M.D. of the Oregon Health Sciences University. Dr Jacob laid down his experiences in several books: “The Miracle of MSM, the Natural Solution for Pain”(1999) and “MSM, the definite guide” (2003).

OptiMSM® is the purest MSM available, manufactured by Bergstrom Nutrition in the USA. OptiMSM® is the only MSM in the world purified by multiple distillation. OptiMSM® also is the only MSM backed up by published, peer-reviewed research. OptiMSM® is the only MSM in the world manufactured according to the world wide patents of Robert J. Herschler. 

Different types of MSM

OptiMSM® powder comes in two qualities. First, there is the 'Microprill' quality, a fine crystal powder that easily lumps together. This quality is the first choice for making tablets and capsules. As flowing agent 0,1% silicon dioxide has been added (silicon dioxide is nothing else but fine sand!). Thus, 'Microprill' OptiMSM is 99,9% pure MSM.

The second quality OptiMSM is the 'Coarse Powder' quality. The crystal are a bit larger and do not easily lump together. This quality is the first choice for dissolving in liquids and mixing through feed. As no silicon dioxide has been added, liquids remain clear (silicon dioxide makes liquids look cloudy). Thus 'Coarse Powder' OptiMSM is 100% pure MSM.

Primal Supplier of Sulphur

In the periodic table the element Sulphur belongs to the same group as the element oxygen, which makes both elements strongly related. In anaerobic environment (no oxygen present) organism often use Sulphur instead of oxygen as source of energy. In 1986 in Rumania a subterranean cave was discovered that had not been in open contact with the outside world for an estimated five million years or more. A total of 48 new invertebrate animal species were discovered in the cave, nourished by the warm, Sulphur-rich water that was welling up and filling the cave with high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide (H2S). For humans such gas would be lethal. for bacteria, fungi and the invertebrate in this cave it is the source of life. 

Hundreds of millions of years ago oxygen still was a rare element on planet earth. Only after terrestrial vegetation started to develop, oxygen concentration in the atmosphere started to rise. It took millions of years for the oceans to absorb the oxygen in the atmosphere. We know that hundreds of millions of years ago algae in the oceans started to produce simple organic Sulphur compounds, such as MSM. These Sulphur compounds most likely were the first important energy source for all forms of life that were present, and for those that started to develop afterwards. This supports the idea that higher forms of life we see around us today, may be genetically programmed to use MSM as source of Sulphur. Further support to this thought is given by the discovery, MSM can be taken by all life forms investigated in almost unlimited amounts, without any symptoms of toxification. 

Several studies with laboratory animals have been done, using radioactive labelled Sulphur (35S). These studies have shown, a part of the ingested MSM is broken down, and the sulphur utilized by the body. Radioactive Sulphur (35S) was traced in the collagen and keratin of hairs and nails. Surprisingly, radioactive Sulphur was also found in the amino acids methionine en cysteine, and in blood serum proteins. This discovery clearly shows, MSM supplied Sulphur is incorporated in the human body, such as in the so-called methionine cycle. 

Primal Supplier of Methyl Groups

Methyl groups are the building blocks of all organic molecules. Inside the human body all organs and tissues are subject to a non-stop process of break down and restructure. Every second, millions of methyl groups are made available to molecules inside our body. This process, called methylation, affects all processes involved with life. Without methyl groups the physical body is not able to from new DNA and body cells. The production of a great number of molecules is dependent on the availability of methyl groups as well, such as neurotransmitters including choline, serotonin, adrenalin and noradrenalin. Methyl groups also are essential for the detoxification processes in the liver. Both physical and mental health of mankind is dependent on sufficient supply of methyl groups.  

Interestingly, the molecule MSM is built of two methyl groups and one atom Sulphur (in the form of a sulphate group). After absorption, MSM is broken down in the body, and both methyl groups ánd the sulphate group become available to the body without any rest group (the absence of a 'rest group' no doubt is the reason why MSM has such low toxicity). Hundreds of millions of years ago, MSM must have been an important and perhaps only supplier of methyl groups for the primitive life forms that inhibited the oceans. Are all life forms (including us today) that developed afterwards, genetically programmed to use MSM and methyl donor? There are reasons to believe so. 

MSM can be consumed by all studied life forms in almost unlimited quantities, without any toxification symptoms. In specialist terms: a so-called LD-50 (the dosage that kills 50% of the laboratory animals) could never be established. Dr. Jacob loves to tell all laboratory animals only seemed to become fitter and more energetic at increased dosages MSM.  

The half time of MSM in the human body is approximately 48 hours, and after 480 hours MSM still can be found in the urine. This makes MSM the most stable source of Sulphur and methyl groups for the body.

The Discovery of MSM

In the late fifties of last century Dr. Robert Herschler, working as a chemical engineer at US paper manufacturer Crown Zellerbach Corporation, was asked to turn the 'black liquor' waste material of the plant into an economically interesting by-product. Dr. Herschler found the 'black liquor' was a rich source of lignine, which could bhe oxidized in a reactor into DMSO (Dimethyl Sulfoxide), a natural source of sulphur. DMSO was not a new compound, in 1867 a Russian scientist was the first to produce it and publish his discovery in a German magazine.

In the beginning Crown Zellerbach focused the research on the use of DMSO as......solvent for pesticides (!). One day Dr Herschler and a fellow scientist by accident got a few drops of in DMSO dissolved insecticide on their skin. They immediately got dizzy and had difficulty breathing. Blood analysis showed DMSO had carried the poison (that normally could never have passed the skin) into their bodies. Fortunately their discomfort was only temporarily.  

Meanwhile at the Oregon Health University in Portland, 40-year old surgeon Dr. Stanley Jacob tried to find ways to store live organs outside the body at extremely low temperatures, but without freezing. His interest was raised when he was told DMSO prevented red cells from freezing. Dr. Herschler and Dr. Jacob met, and their partnership became the key that unlocked the many wonders of DMSO and MSM.

When Dr. Jacob learned about the Herschler incident with the insecticide, he realized DMSO apparently had a penetrating ability that was yet unknown: DMSO was able to dissolve chemicals and carry into the human body through the skin. Dr. Jacob wondered could DMSO do the same with medicines? Small scale experiments learned DMSO brought to the skin would lead only a few minutes later to an oysterish, garlicky taste in the mouth, so typical for the smell of DMSO. Through the skin, DMSO had gone completely through the body.

When Dr. Jacob found DMSO not only had penetrating properties, but also healing abilities, he contacted local rheumatologist Dr Rosenbaum. Dr. Rosenbaum applied DMSO on the skin of 15 of his patients and was astonished to find within the hour the condition of 13 patients had dramatically improved. 

DMSO became a sensation, and the pharmaceutical industry became interested in DMSO as an ideal carrier of drugs into the body through the skin. However, in the sixties the medical world was alarmed by what we know as 'The Softenon Affair’. The drug Thalidomide prescribed to pregnant women to alleviate morning sickness and vomiting, appeared to cause limb deficiencies to the fetus and deformities of the eyes, heart, alimentary- and urinary tract. In reaction, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put a ban on the introduction of any new drug until the development and introduction of drugs had been well regulated. This caused the pharmaceutical industry to lose its interest in DMSO. 

DMSO has been subject of several international symposia. According to Dr. Jacob, in the cause of years approximately 12.000 scientific papers have been published on the biological applications of DMSO, and 28.000 on the chemical properties. In 1970 DMSO was approved in the USA as a drug for joint problems for dogs and horses. In 1978 DMSO gained approval in the USA as human drug for cystitis interstitialis, a rare condition of the bladder in (mostly) women. 

DMSO had a bitter taste and penetrating odor, and has never become popular with the public. It also caused skin irritations when applied topically. In the late seventies Robert Herschler took the initiative to start investigating the natural metabolites of DMSO. The research was carried out by the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, under guidance of professor Stanley Jacob. Earlier research had revealed, MSM is the most important metabolite of DMSO. After absorption in the digestive system, approximately 15% of the DMSO is metabolized into MSM. After oral consumption DMSO cannot be found in the urine anymore after 120 hours. MSM however can still be found in the urine up to 480 hours. The delayed excretion of MSM is probably caused by the stronger binding to body tissues, compared to DMSO. The researchers found, many of the DMSO healing properties are likely to be caused by its metabolite MSM. Besides, MSM is much easier in use than DMSO and does not have any disadvantage. It is more stable, odorless and does not cause skin irritations. 

For a long period of time the application of MSM has been restricted to the veterinary market, and for cosmetics. In the nineties of last century, the FDA decided to loosen the legislation for natural compounds. Only then MSM became available as a food supplement. 

MSM: natural or synthetic?

Many people puzzle about the source of OptiMSM: is it natural or synthetic? Is it organic? Some manufacturers claim their MSM is ‘distilled directly from pine wood’. Another claim is, MSM would be of ‘natural source’. Recently, we heard of a distributor claiming its MSM would be vegetarian, manufactured from vegetable oils such as flaxseed oil.

MSM is a naturally occurring substance found in the human body and many foods. The highest concentration of MSM in nature is in mammal’s milk, but these sources contain MSM in parts per million.

It is practically impossible to distil MSM directly from pine wood, as we would have to cut down most of the pine forest to get a substantial amount of MSM. So this story is completely untrue, and any claim MSM would be ‘organic’, is false. Commercially available MSM does not come from wood, plants or fossil fuels. You cannot exctract, isolate or grow MSM, a chemical reaction is required to make it.

US manufacturer Cardinal Nutrition (now: Bergstrom Nutrition) was the first to use paper industry waste water for the production of MSM. The compound lignin is separated from the waste water, and metabolised into DMS (dimethyl sulphide) by adding sulphur. After that, DSM is processed into DMSO and then MSM.

Summarized the production process looks as follows:

Natural ingredient (lignine in paper industry waste water   →  CH3 (methyl groups)

CH3 (methyl groups) → chemical process → DMS

DMS → chemical process → DMSO

DMSO  chemical process → MSM.

Question: how ‘natural’ can you call MSM when it is manufactured in this way? You cannot even call it ‘semi-natural’, as it has been produced completely synthetically through a number of production steps, starting with a ‘natural’ compound in paper industry waste water.

Looking at the productions process above, it would be misleading to say any MSM would be ‘organic’ or ‘natural’, even if paper industry waste water has been used as source of lignin. Basically, all MSM sold on the market today as a food supplement, has been manufactured synthetically.

A great concern has always been that waste water also contains a lot of other substances, including pollutants and impurities that you do not want to end back in your food supplement. For this reason, Bergstrom decided years ago to skip the waste water and start using DMS / DMSO obtained directly from the pharmaceutical industry. DMS and DMSO are very small and simple molecules that can easily be manufactured, and are identical to what Mother Nature produces.

All commercially available MSM is synthetic and created through a chemical reaction of DMSO and hydrogen peroxide. Since all commercial MSM produced comes from DMSO, and all commercial DMSO is produced synthetically, the origin of the DMSO is insignignificant.

There is a misconception that one supply of MSM is more natural than another. All MSM produced for commercial use utilizes the same raw materials—but there is a difference, and that boils down to the purification process, testing levels, specifications and quality of the manufacturing.

Bergstrom Nutrition’s focus on purity sets OptiMSM® apart. Bergstrom Nutrition pioneered the distillation process of MSM ensuring the highest levels of purity and safety. Chemical engineers and other experts recognize the multi-stage distillation process used to purify OptiMSM® as the superior method on the market. The end product is biomimetic which means the same as that found in nature.

The quality of MSM

Bergstrom Nutrition is the first and only manufacturer of MSM in the United States of America.  Bergstrom Nutrition has given its top quality MSM two different brand names: OptiMSM®  for humans and PurforMSM® for animals. 

Both qualities are identical, and considered the purest and most outstanding MSM available on the market today.  They are in all aspects superior to MSM produced in plants in countries like China and India. Such MSM products are usually without brand name and anonimous, which makes it difficult to find out which company is the actual manufacturer. 

OptiMSM® and PurforMSM® make a true difference by the highly sophisticated purification processes, including a Four-Fld Distillation.   The multiple distillation removes all impurities, and leaves only pure MSM behind. The pure MSM obtained comes with certificates of analysis that guarantee the absence fungi, yeasts, bacteria and organic impurities. The concentrations of heavy metals, an important potential contaminant, is specified to be absent near the analytical levels of detection.                                   

Mercury (Hg)   :< 0,001 ppm (mg/kg)
Cadmium (Cd):< 0,005 ppm (mg/kg
Lead (Pb)       :< 0,01 ppm (mg/kg)

Manufacturers in China and India usually ‘purify’ their product using the so-called cheap Crystallization Method.  When this method is used, the MSM is dissolved in water and dried. Dissolving in water and drying is not really a ‘purification’, though it is often called as such. all impurities present do not go away, but stay present. Even worse, the water used usually also contains all kind of impurities that end up in the MSM crystals after drying.  

Such MSM comes with certificates that usually do not guarantee the absence of fungi, yeasts and bacteria. The levels of heavy metals are usually not individualized, but shown as a generic group to guaranteed levels up to


The image on the left shows crystals OptiMSM®  after Four-Fold Distillation. The crystals are round shaped and do not show any sign of impurities. The image on the right shows a crystal MSM obtained after ‘purification’  by the so-called ‘Crystallization Method’, often used by Chinese and Indian manufacturers. Not only has the crystal a different shape, it also shows clear traces of impurities. These traces may be organic impurities, but could also be heavy metals. 

Such MSM comes with certificates that usually do not guarantee the absence of fungi, yeasts and bacteria. The levels of heavy metals are usually not individualized, but shown as a generic group to guaranteed levels up to



Heave Metals                                           No Heavy metals

The image in the right shows OptiMSM® after Distillation. It is pure and sparkling white pure, i.e., free of contaminants. The image on the left shows the contaminants that stay behind in the distillation column, mainly heavy metals. These contaminants are all still present in the MSM of manufacturers ‘purifying’ their MSM using the Crystallization Method. Bergstrom Nutrition is the only company in the world using the Distillation Method to purify the MSM.



Bergstrom Nutrition uses the expensive Distillation Method to purify MSM. During this process, MSM is heated until boiling temperature (238ºC). The MSM vapour is cooled and crystallizes back into MSM crystals. By repeating this step four times, MSM crystals of the greatest pureness are obtained:

1. All contaminants with lower boiling temperature evaporate before the MSM. These contaminants mainly are the organic compounds present. 

2. All contaminants with higher boiling temperature stay behind in the distillation column. These contaminants are mainly heavy metals:

 Boiling Temperature
Lead (Pb)        :1740º C
Cadmium (Cd) :  765º C
Arsenic (As)    : 613º C
Mercury (Hg)   :356º C


Conclusion: The heavy metal contamination is guaranteed up to 20.000 times lower in OptiMSM® and PurforMSM® compared to other MSM.