Alternative names: Also known as SAM or S-adenosylmethionine.
SAMe is not a herb or hormone, but a molecule that all living cells, including our own, produce constantly.
In dozens of European trials involving thousands of patients over decades, this product has had a sterling record. It is an approved drug in fourteen countries. In many of these countries, such as Germany, it is paid for by insurance.
Formerly cost-prohibitive, the price of this very useful compound is now within most of our grasps.
SAMe is involved in the all-important chemical reaction that is seen not only in higher living forms, but also many lower ones called methylation. According to some researchers, methylation occurs a billion times a second throughout the body and affects everything from fetal development to brain function. It actually regulates the expression of genes. It does this by its action on various hormones and neurotransmitters. Serotonin, adrenalin, melatonin and dopamine are but a few of these substances that are produced because of SAMe and its effect on methylation.
SAMe is an important physiological agent formed in the body by combining the essential amino acid methionine with adenosyl-triphosphate (ATP). Methylation (the transfer of methyl groups from one compound to another) reactions are critical in the formation of many body components – especially brain chemicals – and SAMe plays a critical role in this process. Like Hypericum, SAMe influences monoamine metabolism and in particular, serotonin metabolism.
It is important to note that even though SAMe is derived from methionine, consuming increased quantities of methionine does not provide the same benefits as SAMe nor does it increase its synthesis.
In a trial involving 22,000 patients, SAMe was as effective as NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and Nalfon but, unlike these, instead of speeding the breakdown of cartilage, it helps to restore this and indeed may be preventative in the development of degenerative arthritis that most of us will get as we become older.
Various human studies have demonstrated that SAMe is effective in treating affective disorders, such as depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Additional studies have demonstrated its efficacy in treating depressed alcoholics when conventional antidepressants are ineffective.
The usual dose of this is 400mg a day, taken on an empty stomach. It is probably better to take 200mg twice a day. An enteric coated product is best.
SAMe has minimal, if any, side-effects. In a study done at a California medical school, using doses as high as 1600mg per day, a few percent of patients had an upset stomach and rare patients, who were treated with the newer antidepressants called SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.), became manic. SAMe does not interact adversely with any other medications.