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S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

What is S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe)?

S-adenosylmethionine is an amino acid derivative produced in your body from the amino acid methionine, so you do not need to get it from food in order to be healthy [1].

SAMe Functions in the Human Body

SAMe [1]:

  • Has an anti-inflammatory activity
  • Contributes in the synthesis of DNA, proteins, hormones and other substances

SAMe in Foods

SAMe does not occur in foods in significant amounts.

S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) Supplements

Nonprescription (over-the-counter) dietary supplements and prescription SAMe drugs are available.

SAMe Health Benefits

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE [2] about the effectiveness of SAMe in the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease [7], amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) [7], anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), alcohol liver disease [7], back pain, bursitis, cancer [7], chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), depression [5,7], fibromyalgia [7], Gilbert’s syndrome, heart disease, hepatitis, HIV/AIDS-related nerve problems, intrahepatic cholestasis during pregnancy [7], liver disease (cirrhosis), migraine [7], multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis [2,4,6,7], premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), premenstrual syndrome (PMS), schizophrenia [7], seizures (epilepsy), sepsis, sexual dysfunction in men with depression, spinal cord injury and tendonitis, or in improving intelligence or quitting smoking.

SAMe Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

The long-term effectiveness and safety of SAMe supplements are not known; SAMe was also not evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Some doctors do not recommend it for treatment of depression [3].

Side effects may include gas, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, dry mouth, headache, insomnia, anorexia, sweating, dizziness and anxiety [2].

Who should avoid SAMe?

SAMe should not be taken by pregnant or breastfeeding women and individuals with bipolar disorder (it can induce mania), Parkinson’s disease and should be stopped few weeks before scheduled surgery [2].

SAMe-Drug Interactions

A combination of SAMe and dextromethorphan, antidepressants, levodopa, meperidine, pentazocine, phenelzine, tramadol, tranylcypromine, 5-HTP, Hawaiian baby woodrose, L-tryptophan, or St. John’s wort may increase the synthesis of serotonin resulting in anxiety, shivers and heart problems [2].

  1. S-adenosyl-L-methionine  PubChem
  2. SAMe uses, side effects  WebMD
  3. Young SN, Are SAMe and 5-HTP safe and effective treatments for depression?  PubMed Central
  4. Soeken KL et al, 2002, Safety and efficacy of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for osteoarthritis  PubMed
  5. Williams AL et al, 2005, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) as treatment for depression: a systematic review  PubMed
  6. Rutjea AWS et al, 2009, S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for osteoarthritis  Cochrane
  7. S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe): An Introduction  National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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