– S-Adenosyl methionine, also known as SAM-e, is a compound produced by the body. S-Adenosyl methionine is required for the growth and repair of cells. More importantly, it is involved in the making of several hormones and brain chemicals that affect mood. Once made, it's used in more than a hundred different chemical reactions that are vital for good health. During childhood, most people have sufficient amounts of SAM-e but levels drop substantially with age as the body's ability to produce it slows down. SAM-e is not available in any foods so it's not possible to obtain it through diet. read more about sam-e » | find answers to your vitamins questions »
One place SAM-e exerts significant influence is in the brain and central nervous system. Low levels of SAM-e have been linked with symptoms of depression and with imbalances in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that regulate mood. Some research shows that SAM-e is more effective than a placebo for improving symptoms of depression. One study showed it's comparable in effectiveness to some anti-depressant medications that doctors prescribe. Another study found that SAM-e is an effective add-on for depressed patients who weren't getting adequate symptom relief from anti-depressants alone. More doctors are becoming aware of the benefits of SAM-e for people who are depressed and the lower risk of side effects with SAM-e compared to some anti-depressant medications.
SAM-e is also thought to offer hope for people who suffer with osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a common condition characterized by breakdown of cartilage, the tissue that covers the tips of bones and helps to absorb shock. This usually happens as a result of aging and “wear and tear” on joints. People with osteoarthritis may be relatively symptom-free or they can experience joint pain and stiffness that limits their ability to do the things they enjoy. Some doctors prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAID) like ibuprofen to ease the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis. Some studies show that SAM-e can be as effective as NSAIDs are for osteoarthritis without the side effects these medications can cause. Interestingly, the benefits of SAM-e for osteoarthritis were discovered after participants in a clinical trial looking at SAM-e for depression relief experienced improvement in their osteoarthritis symptoms. SAM-e appears to have anti-inflammatory activity that may ease the pain and stiffness that people with osteoarthritis experience. Some experts have also looked at whether SAM-e is helpful for potentially addressing the symptoms of fibromyalgia as well as some forms of liver disease but there's currently not enough evidence to support this.
Most people who take SAM-e as a supplement tolerate it well, although some experience gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea and constipation or other mild symptoms including headache. Before taking SAM-e, it's important to consult with a doctor since SAM-e can interact with certain medications. Because it can alter levels of brain chemicals that affect mood in the same way as anti-depressants, it is not advised to take the two together without medical supervision and guidance. SAM-e may also interact with herbs that alter levels of brain neurotransmitters like St. John's wort. It is not recommended that people who have certain medical conditions, especially Parkinson's disease or bipolar disorder, take SAM-e without consulting a doctor first.
There's a growing interest in natural approaches for addressing symptoms that have fewer side effects than prescription medications. SAM-e is thought to potentially ease some symptoms of depression as well as address joint pain and stiffness in some people with osteoarthritis.
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