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Sulfur is a mineral naturally occurring near hot springs and volcanic craters. The "rotten egg" smell of sulfur mineral baths is caused by sulfur dioxide gas escaping into the air. Sulfur has been used medicinally since ancient times, and it is contained in every cell in your body. It is a component of three different amino acids (the building blocks that make up protein). Approximately 0.25 percent of your total body weight is sulfur. It is most concentrated in keratin, which gives you strong hair, nails, and skin. It is known as "nature's beauty mineral" because your body needs it to manufacture collagen, which keeps your skin elastic and young-looking.
Sulfur is used primarily to ease the red, itchy rashes of conditions such as eczema and diaper rash. It also helps to protect your body against toxins in the environment. In addition, people with arthritis may find pain relief from taking a soothing bath in hot sulfur springs.
The elemental mineral form of sulfur is found in rocks near hot springs and volcanos. The form your body uses is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, organ meats, poultry, fish, eggs, cooked dried beans and peas, and milk and milk products. Other good sources include garlic, onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale, and wheat germ.
To ease skin rashes, there are ointments, creams, lotions, or dusting powders containing sulfur as the active ingredient. If you suffer from arthritis, soaking in a natural sulfur bath (the kind usually found at hot springs) can greatly ease the pain in your joints. Talk to your health care provider to see if you might benefit from this type of therapy. Organic sulfur (the kind our body uses) is available in the form of MSM (metylsulfonylmethane).
Sulfur is also available as a dietary supplement in tablets and capsules. However, you most likely do not need to take extra sulfur. If you are eating a well-balanced diet that includes the recommended daily allowance of protein, you should get all the sulfur you need to maintain your body's daily functions. Any extra sulfur will be excreted in your urine. Follow the advice of your health care provider in taking sulfur as a supplement.
How to Take It
If you have arthritis, an oral dose of 500 mg to 1,000 mg per day may decrease symptoms. Consult your health care provider before taking sulfur supplements.
Sulfur, by itself, is not toxic to our bodies. However, some people are highly allergic to relatives of sulfur such as sulfites and sulfa drugs. Sulfites are used as a food preservative and can trigger asthma and other allergic reactions in people who are sensitive. Sulfa drugs can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), skin rashes, high fever, headache, fatigue, and gastric problems. Tell your health care provider if you think you may be allergic to sulfur-containing substances.
No harmful drug interactions have been reported.
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