What you might not know about the benefits of SAM-e:
SAM-e is the acronym for S-adenosylmethionine and also known as SAMe. No wonder we call it SAMe (pronounced Sammy). It is approved by the FDA and used as a prescription in Europe for over 30 years in the treatment of various psychiatric and medical conditions. In the US, it’s been used as a supplement since 1999 and is available over the counter.
I’m going to just call it SAMe for the purpose of this article.
SAMe is actually made in the body usingand vitamin B12. Those low on folate and/or vitamin B12 often are running low on SAMe too, especially in people with depression or dementia (Sharma, et al., 2017). SAMe is not found in foods so our bodies have to manufacture it or we can take a supplement if we are low.
What It Does
SAMe is involved in over 100 methyl reactions in the body and is key in helping maintain cell-membrane integrity. It also is important for disease prevention and delaying disease progression. According to Mischoulon (2018) of the Psychopharmacology Institute and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, SAMe is also important forsynthesis. In particular, serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine, among others. It does cross the blood-brain barrier so is required by our brains.
Serotonin and dopamine are the ‘feel-good’ or happyin the brain. Serotonin and dopamine being the main happy chemicals. The brain releases more dopamine when we do something pleasurable or eat something we crave. Low levels of dopamine can prompt addiction to drugs or alcohol to try to increase it. Some stimulants increase levels of dopamine in the brain.
SAMe increases the levels of these feel-good hormones and is probably the reason it works for depression. To be honest, the research results are mixed in regard to SAMe for depression, but David Mischoulon M.D. (2018) felt there are enough positive results to say that, yes, it does indeed work for depression. The studies that did the best had people taking higher levels of SAMe, from 400-3200 mg a day.
SAMe has been very useful for osteoarthritis pain. In fact, some studies have shown that oral SAMe is as effective as prescription painkillers (WebMD, 2019) for osteoarthritis pain, with less side effects. That is impressive. It takes longer to work, it’s a longer term treatment, but many people found relief without the side effects of prescription painkillers. Talk to your doctor about SAMe for arthritis pain.
For the Liver:
SAMe is used for liver disease and in pregnant women who have too much bile in their livers in the 3rd trimester of pregnancy, a condition called cholestasis. Always check with your doctor before taking SAMe if you are pregnant. Apparently, SAMe synthesis is lower in people with liver disease and so adding it, in theory, helps the body in multiple ways. There isn’t a lot of research on SAMe and liver disease so talk with your doctor about SAMe if you have liver disease.
Researchers found people with fibromyalgia experienced significant improvement in pain levels when taking SAMe.
Studies done with early-stage Alzheimer’s patient who were given SAMe along with some other neutriceuticals showed improvement in cognitive symptoms, mainly in memory function and word-finding. Since other supplements were included in the studies I read about, more research is needed to see the individual contribution SAMe may have for Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Dosage and Contraindications
Common strengths available in SAMe supplements is about 400 mg per capsule. Check with your doctor for the proper dosing for you, but here are some general guidelines I found from the research.
For Depression: 800-1600 mg per day of oral supplement. Better results seen with 1600 mg per day.
For Osteoarthritis and Fibromyalgia: 600-1200 mg per day.
For Neurocognitive Disorders: 1600 mg per day.
Who Shouldn’t Take:
People with bipolar disorder should not take SAMe. It can cause increased mania. People with HIV. With decreased immune function, a complication could result from SAMe. Anyone taking a prescription medication should check with your doctor before taking SAMe, just to be sure.If you have diabetes and are on insulin, check with your doctor.
Where to Get It
Thank you for reading about the benefits of SAMe! Please leave any questions, comments or your experience with SAMe below. And join the mailing list for updates on upcoming articles and information.
Related Article: Best Natural Treatments: Depression
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