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SAMe

SAMe classification

SAMe is a chemical compound found naturally in your body. It stimulates the production of parts of cartilage, and may have antidepressant and painkilling properties. Evidence suggests that SAMe is effective in reducing functional limitations and, to a lesser extent, pain in osteoarthritis. Evidence for its effectiveness for fibromyalgia suggests that SAMe might be useful for reducing body tenderness and depressive symptoms.

What is it?

Family: Nutritional supplement
Scientific name: S-adenosylmethionine

SAMe is a chemical compound made from methionine, an amino acid also found in protein-rich foods, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a nucleic acid and the product of some chemical reactions in your body. SAMe was discovered in 1952 and was first studied as a possible treatment for depression. You can buy it as a nutritional supplement from UK-based internet sites.

How does it work?

SAMe is found naturally in your body. It contributes to several biochemical pathways and in the building of hormones and neurotransmitters. Laboratory studies suggested that SAMe has some painkilling activity and stimulates the production of collagen and proteoglycans, which are major building blocks of cartilage. SAMe may work as an antidepressant, but we don’t yet understand how this may work.

Is it safe?

Side-effects, which are usually mild and infrequent, include:

  • nausea
  • restlessness
  • headaches
  • a dry mouth
  • stomach upsets.

Severe side-effects of anxiety and mania have also been reported in people with depression. SAMe can also increase the activity of antidepressants.

If you take anticoagulants, you should take SAMe under your doctor’s supervision because it might increase the risk of bleeding.

We don’t yet know what the best dose of SAMe is, but most studies have used daily doses of 400–1,600 mg.

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