Heal Yourself At Home

Organic Sulfur – Healing mineral


Sulfur is the third most common mineral in the body  (after calcium and phosphorus) - An adult human body is ~4% sulfur ( ~100mg).

Sulfur is needed to regenerate cells - sulfur's primary function is to enable oxygen transport across cell membranes; also used to make amino acids / protein;

An essential mineral, we must obtain sulfur from our diet - the body can not make or store it

Known as a healing mineral,  a sulfur deficiency often leads to pain and inflammation associated with various muscle and skeletal disorders. Sulfur is especially known for its role in the disulphide bridge (S_S) between peptide chains, a structural component of many proteins, E.g. in skin's collagen, GAGs (E.g. chondroitin sulfate) in cartilage, and keratin in nails and hair. The high sulfur content / # of S-S bridges in nails makes them hard, whereas fewer S-S bridges provide desirable flexibility/softness in skin and cushioning in cartilage.

Sulfur exists in several forms – a few forms are mentioned here, but note that health references to sulfur in this article are discussing the organic forms of sulfur

Inorganic Sulfur

A non-metallic, lemon yellow mineral

Forms of inorganic sulfur

-   Sulfur oxide processed into sulfuric acid - is toxic and poisonous to the human body and cannot be digested, absorbed, or assimilated by the human body;

Eg.Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) /Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) – esters of sulfuric acid, commonly used in many soaps, shampoos, detergents, toothpastes; mimic the estrogen hormone;

-   Sulfates – Inorganic sulfate (SO42−) provided in food and water, is required for the synthesis of many important sulfur-containing compounds in the body:

✔ GAGs (glycosaminoglycans) chondroitin sulfate and keratin sulfate in cartilage.

✔ Sulfate component of methionine and cysteine in dietary protein,

✔ Cysteine component of the body’s major “in house” antioxidant glutathione;

✔ Dietary supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates, and bath salts, such as magnesium sulfate (Epson salts), ammonium sulfate (used as fertilizer)

-   Sulfites - sulfur preservatives, such as sulfites and sulfur dioxide, inhibit the growth of microorganisms and prevent discoloration of foods. Sulfur preservatives are used in fruit juices, dried fruits, vinegar and wine to extend the shelf life of products.

Organic Sulfur (Organosulfurs) – meaning their molecules contain carbon

Organosulfur in amino acids  E.g. methionine, cysteine, components of protein;

Organosulfur MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) - found in rain water, fresh fruit and vegetables, raw milk from pastured cows  

Earth’s sulfur cycle

Ocean algae and several forms of plankton absorb massive amounts of inorganic sulfur from seawater converting it into an organic form.- When these algae and planktonic organisms die, enzymes break down their organic sulfur molecules into DMS (Dimethylsulfide). Poorly soluble in water, this volatile compound collects in the stratosphere, where it is oxidized via the sun’s UV light into DMSO (Dimethylsulfoxide), and then further converted into MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane). DMSO and MSM are highly soluble in water and concentrate easily in atmospheric water vapor, returning to earth in the form of rain, where these sulfur sources are concentrated (up to a hundred-fold within 4 hours) by plant roots, which convert it into sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine . The sulfur cycle is symbiotic and vital for life as we know it.

The sulfur cycle may have “broken” in countries that exchanged manure for chemical fertilizers - In 1954, chemical fertilizers were mandated by the U.S. government, but the agribusiness fertilizers such as ammonium nitrates and sulfates lack bioavailability. Sulfur, with an atomic number of 16, bonds easily with many elements and molecular compounds, weakening the sulfur's bio-availability. Concerned about rising disease rates, and thinking that it was related to cadmium levels in chemical fertilizers, Finland banned them in favor of organic fertilizers and their disease rates are reported to have since dropped dramaitcally. Newer studies strongly suggest that it is in fact the increase in sulfur intake that has wrought the beneficial health changes.

The Effects of Sulfur Amino Acid Intake on Immune Function in Humans, Univ of Southhampton, UK, 2006


Health benefits of organic Sulfur

Approximately half of the total body sulfur is concentrated in the body's muscles, skin, and bones – an adult contains ~ 140 g of sulfur; since sulfur plays a vital role in the structure and biological activity of both proteins and enzymes, a sulfur deficiency in your body can cascade into a number of health problems - affecting bones, joints, connective tissues, metabolic processes, and more.

Sulfur is stored in the brain, cells, nerves and liver

About half of the body's total sulfur is concentrated in the muscles, while the other half is found in the brain, hair, skin and bones.

a distinction needs to be made between "why humans

need sulfur" vs. "why humans need MSM".

level of MSM in the circulatory system of an adult human male is about 0.2 mg/kg. Normal adults excrete 4 to 11 mg MSM per day in their urine.

Vitamin D3 Sulfate in skin stores sun’s energy and makes vitamin D water-soluble – Upon  exposure to the sun, the skin synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate, that unlike unsulfated vitamin D3, is water soluble and can travel freely in the blood (i.e. does not need to be transported inside LDL cholesterol capsules). This is the vitamin D form found in mother’s milk and raw (not pasteurized) cow’s milk.

"If you breakdown the sulfate you will release energy, which means that the sulfate is actually absorbing the energy from light... I think of the skin as a battery – or solar panel you might say – taking in the sun's energy and saving it in the form of the sulfate molecule storing the energy in the sun."

- Dr. Stephanie Seneff, senior scientist at MIT

Sulfur is a component of amino acids: - methionine, cysteine, taurine and cystine  - these sulphur-bearing amino acids are absolutely essential to health. Taurine and cystine are synthesized from cysteine

Sulfur is a component of antioxidants (E.g. glutathione, N-acetylcysteine (NAC), alpha-lipoic acid (ALA))  and enzymes (E.g. Coenzyme-A) 

Amino acid cysteine functions as the building block of glutathione (GSH) – which is the body’s most potent antioxidant (comprised of 3 AAs (cysteine, glutamate, and glycine). GSH also keeps other antioxidants at peak performance and is a critical detoxification agent within cells; availability of sulfur-containing cysteine appears to be the rate limiting factor for GSH synthesis..


Enzymes - Sulfur is required for their proper structure and biological function;

Sulfur’s antioxidant role protects against the harmful effects of radiation and pollution

Sulfur bonds (S-S) connect proteins in connective tissue and are the basis for its flexibility - connective tissue and cartilage contain proteins with flexible sulfur bonds (disulfide bridges); connective tissue containing cells with insufficient sulfur loses its ability to flex. Damage to the S-S bond (E.g. by excess copper or insufficient sulfur or zinc) can lead to such as tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis, muscle/joint stiffness, contractures, spondylitis, adhesions, scars, fibrosis, sclerosis and wrinkles.

S-S Bond /Disulfide bridge - an unspecified oxidizing agent, provides an oxygen (O) to oxidize the –SH groups in two cysteine amino acids, removing the hydrogens to form water. The sulfurs then bond to make the disulfide bridge.

Sulfur is essential for collagen, a key component of connective tissue that gives it structure and flexibility - collagen (Gr. Means “To produce glue”) connects cells together;

√       In skin, tendons, ligaments, and abundant in joint cartilage (tough connective tissue that cushions the joints), cornea, bone, blood vessels, the gut, and intervertebral disc. 

√       Sulfur forms flexible S-S bonds maintaining the integrity/shape of the collagen protein molecule

√       Sulfur also acts to block undesirable chemical and physical cross-linking or bonding of collagen which is associated with tough, aging, wrinkled skin.

Sulfur is a component of certain GAGs (glycos amino glycans) necessary for connective tissue integrity – E.g. GAGs and collagen are key components for making and repairing cushioning joint cartilage (called articular cartilage - the white smooth surface which covers the ends of body joints in the fingers, wrists, knees, etc.). GAGs act as a framework for collagen. Together, they build /rebuild cartilage, ligaments, tendons and spinal discs, as GAG chains are covalently linked to a protein core (usually a glycoprotein), to form proteoglycans (95% GAGs/5% Protein). [Chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs) are proteoglycans consisting of a protein core and a chondroitin sulfate side chain. E.g. Aggrecan, which is a major proteoglycan in cartilage].

Sulfur’s incorporation into GAGs is stimulated by glucosamine, which is also a major rate-limiting precursor for GAG production – glucosamine sulfate supplementation after tissue injury can help the body speed up synthesis of GAGs and therefore new connective tissue.

Sulfur-containing GAGs include:

√       Chondroitin sulfate - major component of cartilage; Water attracted to GAGs provide much of cartilage’s resistance to compression; aggrecan is the major proteoglycan in cartilage;

√       Dermatan sulfate - mostly in skin, but also blood vessels, heart valves, tendons, lungs;

√       Keratin sulfate - found in cornea, cartilage and bone;

√       Heparin sulfate - protects several protein ligands such as growth factors and cytokines, to regulate a variety of biological activities, including developmental processes, angiogenesis, blood coagulation and tumor metasasis.

Sulfur deficiency is a likely cause of inelasticity in connective tissue as we age – resulting in stiffening muscles/joints, wrinkly skin, and decreased elasticity in lung tissue and arterial blood vessels. Intercellular communication via the soft tissue of the extracellular matrix is also likely to be disrupted, thus affecting transfer of bio-information used to maintain health functions in the body, with disease an inevitable consequence.

Sulphur needed for keratin in healthy hair, nails and outer skin - Keratins have large amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine, required for the disulfide bridges that confer additional strength and rigidity. The more flexible and elastic keratins of hair (contains ~14% cysteine) have fewer interchain disulfide bridges than the keratins in fingernails.

Sulfur helps cells utilize oxygen for cellular energy production and cellular regeneration–


Sulfur enables oxygen transport across cell membranes - sulfur, selenium, and tellurium are the only three oxygen transport minerals.  Chlorine and fluorine (pervasive in water and toothpaste) are detrimental to such oxygen transport.

As part of iron/sulfur proteins in mitochondria, sulfur has a role in the cellular electron transport system for cellular energy production

The SH groups of cysteine also play a role in the metal-sulfur proteins that mediate electron-transport reactions in respiration

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/organosulfur-compounds#ixzz1iViYBflM

Sulfur required for proper INSULIN function, and thus aids carbohydrate metabolism - The INSULIN molecule consists of two amino acid chains connected to each other by sulfur bridges, without which INSULIN cannot perform its biological activity in metabolizing carbohydrates, significant for controlling hypoglycemia and diabetes.  

in the enzyme insulin, disulfide bonds formed from the SH groups of cysteine units are an essential part of the structure.

Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/organosulfur-compounds#ixzz1iVj2AlPL

Sulfur has a role in detoxification

Heavy metal detoxifier – sulfur attaches to metal ions

Liver detoxification – sulfur, especially in amino acids taurine, methionine and cysteine,  is essential for the liver’s detoxification pathways (Required by many detoxification compounds, such as glutathione).

Sulfur is necessary for blood clotting

Sulfur is a component of Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), B7 (Biotin), and the active form of B5 (Pantothenic acid)

B1/B5/B7 needed for conversion of proteins, carbohydrates and fats into energy;

B1/Thiamine – water-soluble; essential for heart, muscle, nerve function; thiamine deficiency can cause nerve damage, hair loss, fatigue/weakness. Severe deficiency can lead to brain damage. Alcohol consumption causes body to absorb less thiamine;

B5/Pantothenic acid – in its metabolically active form, vitamin B5 gets combined with a small, sulfur-containing molecule to form coenzyme A (CoA), allowing B5 to participate in a wide variety of chemical reactions. Excellent sources of B5 are Crimini and Shitake mushrooms, and good sources are calf liver and cauliflower;

B7/Biotin – used for glucose/fatty acid formation; deficiency is rare but could lead to skin rash, hair loss; found in salmon, cereal, carrots, cauliflower;

Vitamin C  is dependent on sulfur for absorption

Sulfur increases liver’s production/secretion of bile  â€“ since bile acids can be conjugated with a sulfate or sulfate-containing taurine. Bile aids in fat digestion and absorption;

Cholesterol sulfate in skin protects against microbial invasion

Sulfur essential for babies for making health-protective cholesterol sulfate (strengthens immune system, protects against CVD, good for brain/helps depression) - A woman normally has about 1.5 units of cholesterol sulfate in her blood. When she gets pregnant, her blood levels of cholesterol sulfate steadily rise, and it also begins to accumulate in the placental villi, where nutrients are transferred from the placenta to the baby. At the end of pregnancy the cholesterol sulfate in the villi rises to levels of about 24 units!                      

Colostrum contains high levels of sulfur, higher than breast milk. Clearly, nature provides the baby with plenty of both sulfur and cholesterol at the time of birth. It is interesting that when a mother has high serum cholesterol, the baby's serum cholesterol levels are typically low.

Dr. Seneff explains why (try and stay with this logic, even though it is complicated):

"[Because] it can't get through. The mother has high serum cholesterol I think because she has low serum cholesterol sulfate. I think the two go together. The way to bring down your LDL in a healthy way is to get sunlight exposure on your skin. Your skin will produce cholesterol sulfate, which will then flow freely to the blood—not packaged up inside LDL—and therefore your liver doesn't have to make so much LDL. So the LDL goes down.

In fact... there is a complete inverse relationship between sunlight and cardiovascular disease – the more sunlight, the less cardiovascular disease."

When a baby is born of a mother who has high cholesterol and low cholesterol sulfate, the baby's cholesterol will be low, but will also have fatty deposits in its arteries...despite the fact that fatty deposits are supposed to be associated with high cholesterol.

"The deposits are there, I think, to start this cholesterol sulfate program that's replacing the one that isn't happening..." Dr. Senneff explains. "Children who have adequate cholesterol sulfate delivered from their mother do not have fatty deposits... It's bizarre, but the high cholesterol associated with fatty deposits in the adult (that's causing heart disease) is a solution, not a cause."

Now there’s something different to consider!

Possible health consequences of sulfur deficiency

● Fatigue

● Arthritis

● Muscle spasms and cramps

● Soreness

● Infection

● Intestinal problems

● Hair loss

● Many skin diseases

● Kidney/bladder problems

● Allergies

● Diabetes


Sources of organic sulfur

Dietary Sources of organic sulfur


The average dietary sulfur intake is ~900 mg per day - mainly in the form of protein. Carbohydrates and fats do not contain sulfur.

Only dietary protein contains significant amounts of sulfur – and it is in only 2 of the 20 amino acids normally present in foods:


(i)           Methionine - must be supplied via diet, since body can not make it;

(ii)         Cysteine – can be synthesized by body with a steady supply of dietary sulfur

Meat - E.g. beef and poultry, especially organic, grass-fed/pastured) and fish contain all the sulfur-containing amino acids you need to produce new protein.

Dairy products - E.g. Cheese, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, are also significant sources of sulfurated protein.

Eggs -  both yolk and white (organic, from pastured hens is best),

Some vegetarian sources contain moderate amounts of sulfur, but only IF grown in soil that contains adequate amounts of sulfur - including legumes, garlic, onion, mustard, cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli), asparagus, kale, wheat germ, radish, turnips, coconut oil, olive oil, tea (sulfur gives it color, brightness, strength, body, taste and flavor).  Since soils worldwide are becoming more and more depleted of sulfur, vegetarians are at risk of sulfur deficiency. Sulfur is need by a plant to manufacture chlorophyll pigments, and when in short supply, chloroplasts break down and young leaves become yellow.

Mention geographical differences by Seneff

Sulfur-rich herbs – include Horsetail, Alfalfa, Chaparral leaves, Burdock (root), Dandelion (leaves and root), Catnip, Garlic, Red Raspberry (leaves and berries), Lobelia, and Juniper berries to name a few.

MSM (“Dietary sulfur”) content lost in cooking, processing and non-fresh produce - MSM is an organic, sulfate form of sulfur significantly found in rain water, many plants, raw grass-fed milk (2-5  mg MSM/kg) , fresh fruits and vegetables (1-4 mg MSM /kg) - However, since MSM is lost during heating/cooking and in produce left hanging around, then pasteurized milk (0.25 mg MSM/kg) and processed/over-cooked foods contain very little MSM.  (Sulfur easily attaches to oxygen, creating the sulfate ion (SO4). A sulfate compound is formed when sulfur comes into contact with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and selenium).

MSM molecule (shows elements, but not anatomically correct) (CARBON, HYDROGEN, SULFUR, OXYGEN )

Hard water tends to contain more sulfur than soft water – Dr. Seneff suggests this is why people who drink soft water are at greater risk of developing heart disease.

A diet high in grains and processed foods is likely deficient in sulfur – sulfur is lost when whole foods are processed.

Garlic and Onions


MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) – 1,000-2,000 mg daily. MSM is an organic form of sulfur and a potent antioxidant, naturally found in many plants, raw grass-fed milk, fresh fruits and vegetables. However, since MSM is lost during heating/cooking and in produce left hanging around, then pasteurized milk and processed/over-cooked foods contain very little MSM.

Aloe vera has high concentration of MSM 

1000-2000 mg dose seems excessive compared to normally dietary intake


Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate)


Epsom Salt bath – a thrice weekly soak in about 2 cup of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in a bath (~1% solution) counteracts a sulfur deficiency by supplying sulfur through the skin. This is a long-standing remedy for joint problems or arthritis and supplies some magnesium, which also provides benefit for achy joints.

Mineral spa

Magnesium for Pain

Glucosamine sulfate - 1,500 mg daily;

Chondroitin sulfate - 1,200 mg daily;

Source:  Video Transcript

Related Links:

  The Third Abundant Mineral in Your Body-Are You Getting Enough?

  The Hidden Diabetes Link No One is Telling You About...

  Do YOU Take Any of These 11 Dangerous Cholesterol Drugs?

Sulfur is essential in maintaining overall body pH - the balance between acidity and alkalinity.

Sulfur plays an important part in cell respiration and assimilation.

2,500 mg MSM per day to start; slowly working your way up to about 5,000 to 7,500 mg per day. Keep in mind that there may be side effects because MSM can detoxify you, and that may initially aggravate any condition you have.

Sulfur is the eighth most common element by mass in the human body, behind oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.

The three principal suppliers of sulfur to the Western nations are Greece, Italy and Japan. These three countries also enjoy low rates of heart disease and obesity and increased longevity. In the United States, Oregon and Hawaii, two states with significant volcanic activity, have among the lowest obesity rates in the country. By contrast, the highest obesity rates are found in the midwest and in southern farm country: the epicenter of the modern agricultural practices (mega-farms) that lead to sulfur depletion in the soil. Among all fifty states, Oregon has the lowest childhood obesity rates.

Hawaii’s youth are faring less well than their parents, however: while Hawaii ranks as the fifth from the bottom in obesity rates, its children aged ten through seventeen weigh in at number thirteen. As Hawaiians have recently become increasingly dependent on food imports from the mainland, they have suffered accordingly with increased obesity problems.

When cthey are damaged by too much copper, not enough sulfur and zinc, too much molybdenum in a few cases, and other problems such as excessive tissue catabolism, then a person may develop connective tissue problems.

side bar
DISCLAIMER: The content on this website is intended for informational, and educational purposes only and not as a substitute for the medical advice, treatment or diagnosis of a licensed health professional. The author of this website is a researcher, not a health professional, and shall in no event be held liable to any party for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, punitive or other damages arising from any use of the content of this website. Any references to health benefits of specifically named products on this site are this website author's sole opinion and are not approved or supported by their manufacturers or distributors. COPYRIGHT 2009-2018