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SAMe trials for osteoarthritis

Review article (2002)

Eleven trials into the use of SAMe for osteoarthritis were included in this review:

The number of participants included ranged from 36–493 and the trials lasted from 10–84 days. Dosages varied:

  • Six trials used a dosage of 1,200 mg SAMe per day.
  • Three trials used 600 mg per day.
  • One used 400 mg per day.

In the final trial, the dose varied between participants.

Data from all these trials were combined and reanalysed:

  • SAMe was significantly better than a placebo and had an effect similar to that of NSAIDs in reducing functional limitations caused by osteoarthritis.
  • SAMe had an effect equivalent to that of NSAIDs in terms of pain reduction.
  • Two trials compared the effect of SAMe versus that of a placebo in reducing osteoarthritis related-pain. Both of them reported SAMe to be significant better than the placebo.
  • The combined reanalysis of the 10 trials which compared NSAID with SAMe found that participants taking SAMe were 58% less likely to experience side-effects than those treated with NSAIDs, regardless of the dose of SAMe and the length of treatment.

Trial 1

This trial, published in 2004, compared the effectiveness of SAMe to celecoxib (a COX-2 inhibitor, which is a type of NSAID) for pain control, functional improvement and reported side-effects in people with osteoarthritis. The trial lasted for 16 weeks and found that SAMe worked more slowly but was as effective as celecoxib in relieving pain and improving physical function.

Trial 2

In this trial, 134 people of Asian origin with knee osteoarthritis were randomly allocated to receive either 400 mg SAMe three times a day or nabumetone (an NSAID) for eight weeks.

  • Both groups reported improvements in pain, stiffness and function.
  • The participants’ overall assessment of disease and the physicians’ assessment of the participants’ response to therapy also reported improvement, with no differences between the groups.


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