Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our aches and pains could be resolved with just one pill? But the body is complex, and we each get pain from different causes. For those who suffer, it would nice to have pain relief from arthritis without any side effects. The same could be said for depression. Thousands of trips to the doctor for these conditions have resulted in billions of dollars in medications. Sufferers might be glad to learn that S-adenosylmethionine, or SAMe, may be able to help.
SAMe is a substance found all over the body that is used in the methylation pathway. This pathway is a complex circuit that leads to products that affect our DNA, our energy and our mood. SAMe is gaining a reputation for benefits to a couple of common problems prevalent in Western medicine. SAMe has been shown to benefit pain management in arthritis sufferers. In one study, 1,200 mg of SAMe was as good as Celebrex in controlling pain [Source: Naim]. A second study compared SAMe to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) and found SAMe to be as good for osteoarthritis [Source: Soeken, Muller-Fassbender]. This is very good news, as NSAIDS can often carry significant side effects such as stomach ulcers, bleeding from the intestinal tract and kidney damage. Further studies have shown that 600 mg of SAMe daily may be enough to maintain pain control for arthritis for extended periods of time [Source: Bradley, Konig]. For those having to constantly take NSAIDs, SAMe might offer a safe treatment and lessen side effects.
SAMe may also help with depression, a very common diagnosis that can be hard to treat. SAMe appears to be a safe and successful approach for depression relief [Source: Williams, Goren]. SAMe is involved in the production of the neurotransmitters epinephrine and melatonin. This becomes important, because melatonin is needed for deep, quality sleep. Sleep loss is a common symptom of both chronic pain and depression. This leads to struggles with both pain and depression, a common combination.
SAMe can hold benefits for the liver and detoxification. It was found to help improve the utilization of glutathione, the body’s major detoxifier [Source: Tchantchou]. SAMe offered protection to the liver when the body was exposed to a significant chemical toxin [Source: Gasso]. Interestingly, low levels of SAMe were found in one study of heart disease patients [Source: Loehrer].
The dosages used for SAMe were 600-1,200 mg daily. One study went as high as 1,600 mg. It should be noted that B-12 and folic acid are needed to help the body provide adequate SAMe. Those using SAMe for depression in particular may want to consider extra B-12 and folic acid supplements. SAMe has been tolerated very well according to research. One study documented a manic episode with treatment, so those with a history of bipolar disorder should discuss SAMe with a physician before trying it.
- Naim, WI., Reinsch, S., Hoehler, F., et al. (2004). S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) versus celecoxib for the treatment of osteoarthritis symptoms: a double-blind cross-over trial. [ISRCTN36233495]. BMC Musculoskelet Disord, 5:6.
- Soeken, KL., Lee, WL., Bausell, RB., et al. (2002). Safety and efficacy of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for osteoarthritis. J Fam Pract. 51(5):425-30.
- Bradley, JD., Flusser, D., Katz, BP., et al. (1994). A randomized, double blind, placebo controlled trial of intravenous loading with S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) followed by oral SAM therapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis. J Rheumatol, 21(5):905-11.
- Konig, B. (1987). A long-term (two years) clinical trial with S-adenosylmethionine for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Am J Med, 83(5A):89-94.
- Muller-Fassbender, H. (1987). Double-blind clinical trial of S-adenosylmethionine versus ibuprofen in the treatment of osteoarthritis. Am J Med, 83(5A):81-3.
- Williams, AL., Girard, C., Jui, D., et al. (2005). S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) as treatment for depression: a systematic review. Clin Invest Med, 28(3):132-9.
- Goren, JL., Stoll, AL., Damico, KE., et al. (2004). Bioavailability and lack of toxicity of S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) in humans. Pharmacotherapy, 24(11):1501-7.
- Tchantchou, F., Graves, M., Falcone, D., Shea, TB. (2008). S-adenosylmethionine mediates glutathione efficacy by increasing glutathione S-transferase activity: implications for S-adenosyl methionine as a neuroprotective dietary supplement. J Alzheimers Dis, 14(3):323-8.
- Gasso, Marta, et al. (1996). Effects of S-Adenosylmethionine on Lipid Peroxidation and Liver Fibrogenesis in Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Cirrhosis. Journal of Hepatology, 25:200-205.
- Loehrer, Franziska, M.T., et al. (1996). Low Whole-Blood S-Adenosylmethionine and Correlation Between 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate and Homocysteine in Coronary Artery Disease. Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, 16(6):727-733.