SAMe (also called Sammy, Adenosylmethionine, S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, and Ademetionine) is a naturally occurring molecule, found in all living cells – including ours. Our bodies make SAMe from various protein sources. It is involved in over 30 biochemical processes in the body, and those who suffer from depression often have below average levels of SAMe in their body.
What does SAMe do?
As for what it does, or its function in the body, this is where it gets really complicated. The simplest answer – it stimulates proteoglycan synthesis (needed for joint function) and it increases membrane fluidity (needed for exchange of chemical messages in the brain). The result is higher levels of serotonin and an increase in cartilage repair.
Is it a safe and effective treatment for depression, joint pain and/or arthritis?
According to an article in Consumer Reports, SAMe is “likely effective in reducing symptoms of major depression, reducing pain, and improving functioning in people with osteoarthritis.” In fact, in Europe it is sold as a prescription drug; although, it is not a drug in the same sense we are accustomed to, because it is actually made in our body naturally.
There have been numerous studies conducted to test the effectiveness and safety of SAMe. It has shown itself to be effective for the treatment of both depression and joint pain. Studies on safety indicate SAMe is as safe, or safer, than naproxen. And side effects of SAMe are minimal when compared to your average anti-depressant.
Overall, SAMe is definitely worth further investigation if you suffer from depression or joint pain. It is not a miracle cure, as it does not work for everyone; however, most people have positive results. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, SAMe is considered a dietary supplement in the U.S. Which means, your doctor may be hesitant to suggest it, and you may be own your own when it comes to dosage and monitoring effectiveness. As for information on dosage, most sources suggest 400 to 800 milligrams per day for depression, and 600 to 800 milligrams per day for osteoarthritis. As with any supplement, it is best to ask your doctor. SAMe can interact with some drugs, especially those that increase serotonin.
“Dangerous Supplements,” Consumer Reports; Sept. 2010
“What is SAMe,” HEDWEB
“Memor andum / Nutramax Laboratories, Inc.,” Food and Drug Administration
“SAM-e,” The Mood Disorders Support Group of New York City