You have heard about SAMe in the media, the natural antidepressant… and more. We’ll tell you what it is, how it works, and where to get it. What is SAMe?
SAMe, or s-adenosyl-methionine is a naturally occurring substance in the body, with the following uses:
- It is used in the production of the feel-good neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain that mediate our mood. These include dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
- It helps the liver in breaking down toxins and recycle hormones, through the production of the essential intracellular antioxidant, glutathione.
- It reduces the pain, stiffness, and inflammation associated with degenerative joint problems, i.e. arthritis.
How can one product be so versatile?
SAMe is a methyl donor, and provides an essential portion of the molecule used in producing each of the above-mentioned biochemical processes. Antidepressant effect:
- Over 100 placebo-controlled, double-blind studies show SAMe to be equal or superior to prescription antidepressants. According to one meta-analysis, or overview, of these studies, 92% of patients responded to SAMe, compared to 85% response to the medications.
- While some of these can cause liver damage, SAMe has been shown in numerous studies to actually be liver-protective.
- It acts more rapidly, most often within a few days.
- It has no significant side effects.
- SAMe has no withdrawal reaction, commonly found with antidepressants.
- Numerous clinical studies have shown that SAMe can reduce pain, stiffness, and inflammation associated with degenerative joint problems.
- When compared to the common anti-inflammatory medications, Naproxen and Ibuprofen, SAMe did an equally effective job in reducing pain and inflammation over a three month period, and without the gastrointestinal damage caused by these drugs.
- Clinical studies show SAMe works well in countering the fatigue, inflammation and pain associated with fibromyalgia, a puzzling and hard to treat condition.
Support of Liver Function:
- SAMe aids the liver in neutralizing toxins, free radicals and carcinogens. Because of SAMe’s effects on the liver, it enhances the elimination of various drugs from the body.
- SAMe has also been shown to protect the liver and body from the effects of excess and unbalanced estrogen levels, seen in some estrogen replacement therapy, oral contraceptive use, and premenstrual syndrome.
- In general, the longer SAMe is used, the more beneficial the results.
- It can be used safely during pregnancy and nursing.
- There are no reported negative interactions with other medications or nutritional supplements.
- SAMe’s antidepressant activity may lead to the manic phase in individuals with bipolar (manic) depression.
- Though not reported in the literature, higher doses may lead to anxiety even in non-bipolar individuals, and if such should be lowered and/or discontinued.
How to Take SAMe
Cofactors: To avoid conversion of SAMe into high levels of homocysteine, known for its increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, you should also be taking the cofactors, vitamin B6 (50 mg), vitamin B12 (1000 mcg), and folic acid (800 mcg), to enhance production of the SAMe precursor, methionine. This is most easily taken as part of a multivitamin, preferably with food, and not necessarily along with the SAMe dose. Dosage: SAMe should be taken on an empty stomach, preferably 1 hour away from food, starting at a dosage of 200 mg once or twice daily. If results aren’t seen in a few days, the dose can be increased again, up to 800 mg daily if needed. Most often, 400 mg per day is sufficient. Since SAMe is unstable at higher temperatures, it should be kept refrigerated whenever possible. Enteric coated tablets have generally been used to ensure stability. Note: This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease and this information has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA. If you do try it, I would appreciate your feedback.