Reader says, A friend told me recently that she’s been applying a yellow powder called Flowers of Sulphur (FOS) to gain relief from her various skin ailments. Is FOS related to or comparable to MSM? For instance, could I take FOS orally and receive similar health benefits? If not, how is FOS used?

My response

Traditionally made by purifying brimstone deposits, Flowers of Sulphur is a powdery antiseptic that has been used for centuries as a remedy for common skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, scabies, and dermatitis.

During the early years of the 20th century, FOS was widely used in agriculture as a fungicide (particularly in the cultivation of hop plants) to combat diseases caused by mold. In recent years, pet breeders and farmers who own animal stock have found that topical application of FOS helps to repel fleas, ticks, mites, and lice.

In Chinese medicine FOS is known as Liu Huang. Before brimstone can be applied topically or taken internally, it must be heated and melted after excavation in order to separate and remove any impurities that may be present.

Taken orally, part of FOS forms hydrogen sulfide in the intestines that produces a laxative effect by stimulating peristalsis. According to a report posted on the Chinese Herbs Healing website, brimstone contains toxic levels of arsenic. To neutralize the arsenic content to nominal levels, manufacturers should cook their raw sulphur with tofu and then place the mixture in the shade to dry (Traditional Chinese Medicine, 1997, 6:344). A typical recipe for taking FOS as a laxative — assuming that it has been obtained from a reputable source — is to mix a pinch that is smaller than the size of a match head with a teaspoon of molasses. This small amount of FOS represents a single dose for one day.

WARNING: Some people may experience an adverse reaction to taking FOS internally, and the product should not be consumed for more than three days in a row. Consequently, if you choose to take FOS orally, be sure to test yourself first by consuming a very tiny amount.

Unlike FOS, organic sulphur (methylsulfonylmethane, otherwise known as MSM) is not sourced from brimstone and is a complex compound composed of several other elements besides sulphur. Organic sulphur has been used topically as well as internally for a variety of health applications that extend beyond skin care. Many customers take their prescribed dosage daily to help alleviate chronic back or joint pain, while others make a water-based solution that they apply directly on their eyes as a way to relieve dryness. In addition, many pet owners give a daily dosage to their beloved animals to improve the texture of their fur and give them more energy.

Where to buy FOS

Pet shops and animal stock feed stores such as Tractor Supply Company have been traditional sellers of FOS, which is an inexpensive purchase item. In addition, FOS powder can be ordered from Amazon, eBay, and herb shops such as Penn Herb Company.


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Is Flowers of Sulphur Comparable to MSM?
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