TL; DR MSM vs Glucosamine Summary:
Chronic joint pain is something that significantly lowers our quality of life. It’s therefore no surprise that people are looking far and wide for natural remedies to mitigate pain and improve joint function. Two popular options when it comes to joint supplements are MSM and glucosamine.
For those unfamiliar, glucosamine is a natural substance found in our cartilage and tissue. Supplementation has been shown to help with cartilage issues and joint aches. But it’s not all perfect as some studies have found no effect from glucosamine.
When it comes to pain reduction specifically, you might get more benefit from MSM. But it all comes down to trying both for yourself as we are all different. Ideally, you’ll want to combine glucosamine and chondroitin for synergistic joint health benefits.
What is MSM?
MSM is an abbreviation for methylsulfonylmethane—it’s a mouthful!  As a natural compound, MSM is known to aid in connective tissue healing, inflammation, and other joint issues. MSM can be found in legumes, fish, and eggs, for example. Joint supplements with MSM can indeed be a helpful option if you need a relief from arthritis symptoms, for instance.
Some of the benefits of taking MSM include:
- Promotes wound healing
- Maintaind healthy nails, skin, and hair
- Alleviates joint pain and inflammation
- Repairs cartilage
- Helps with connective tissue healing
All of these benefits from MSM are backed by studies, which makes this a great ingredient and it’s no surprise that some of the best joint supplements on the market use it.
MSM can be used topically as well for conditions such as dermatitis or eczema. In the long run, it can also help if you have arthritis.
How does MSM work for joint pain and flexibility?
The way MSM can reduce joint pain and improve flexibility is by providing support for the connective tissue as well as through its anti-inflammatory properties.
What is Glucosamine?
Now that you’ve seen what MSM is, let’s take a closer look at Glucosamine. Glucosamine can also be quite beneficial for joint health. It is known for its ability to decrease joint pain, inflammation, and discomfort, and ultimately help improve the lifestyle of people with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Glucosamine is a part of glycosaminoglycans, proteins that form the connective tissues in the body. In other words, it is a component of cartilage and can reduce arthritis pain caused by inflammation.
There are some other ways glucosamine works for joint issues, such as through the synthesis of certain enzymes in cells, for example, in cartilage cells and other connective tissue cells, but this is another topic for another day.
The core lesson here is that glucosamine supplementation can lead to reduced chronic inflammation, as well as reduced production of cytokines that are connected with pain management short-term. 
Differences between MSM and Glucosamine
Glucosamine comes from the shells of crustaceans, while MSM is found naturally in the body. The biggest differences between these two ingredients is where they can be found in the body and how they are made.
So, Which is Better for Joint Health?
Glucosamine contains compounds similar to components of cartilage. MSM, on the other hand, is a nutrient found in plenty of foods, including meat, eggs, fish, and legumes.
Some people prefer to use MSM instead of glucosamine for their joint health because of more sulfur inside. The idea is that sulfur content makes MSM better for joints because it maintains healthy connective tissues that support cartilage and other tissues.
Don’t get us wrong, glucosamine is also highly potent for joint health. We think you should use both glucosamine and MSM for the highest effects. Both of these are highly studied, and when used in optimal doses, are quite safe for long-term consumption. Combining them with omega-3s, curcumin, and other proven joint health enhancers yields even more potent benefits.
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- Butawan M, Benjamin RL, Bloomer RJ. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar 16;9(3):290. doi: 10.3390/nu9030290. PMID: 28300758; PMCID: PMC5372953.
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- Kim JA, Ahn BN, Kong CS, Kim SK. Anti-inflammatory action of sulfated glucosamine on cytokine regulation in LPS-activated PMA-differentiated THP-1 macrophages. Inflamm Res. 2011 Dec;60(12):1131-8. doi: 10.1007/s00011-011-0377-7. Epub 2011 Aug 30. PMID: 21877189.