What to Know Before Trying SAMe Supplements

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What is SAMe?

The supplement SAMe, also known as S-adenosylmethionine, is a synthetic form of a compound formed naturally in the body from the essential amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-producing compound found in all cells in the body. It was first discovered in 1953.

SAMe is believed to work by being a methyl group donor in many reactions in the body. After donating the methyl group, it is converted to a compound called S-adenosyl-homocysteine.

Uses for SAMe

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety or effectiveness of taking SAMe. 

1) Osteoarthritis

Some preliminary studies have been done on the use of SAMe for osteoarthritis. Although further research is needed, it may help to reduce osteoarthritis pain somewhat. 

See Natural Remedies for Osteoarthritis.

2) Depression

There have been a number of preliminary studies on the use of SAMe for depression. It has been hypothesized that SAMe increases the availability of neurotransmitter serotonin and dopamine, however, further research is needed.

More Depression Remedies: 8 Natural Treatments.

3) Liver disease

Some preliminary evidence suggests that SAMe may help people with liver disease. Preliminary research suggests it may help to normalize liver enzyme levels and help with cholestasis. Further research is needed.

Related: Herbs for the Liver.


If you're considering the use of SAMe, talk with your doctor first.

Keep in mind that SAMe should not be used as a substitute for standard care in treating any health conditions.

SAM-e should be taken on an empty stomach. If nausea or heartburn occur, drinking more water may help. Many people notice that SAM-e can be stimulating, so it should be taken earlier in the day to avoid insomnia.

People with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and other psychiatric conditions should only use SAMe under healthcare provider supervision. SAMe has been associated with hypomania and mania.

The most common side effects are digestive complaints, particularly nausea. Other side effects include skin rash, lowered blood sugar, dry mouth, blood in the stool, thirst, increased urination, headache, hyperactivity, anxiety, and insomnia.

People with Parkinson's disease should avoid SAM-e.

As with other supplements, SAMe hasn't been tested for safety in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications. You can get tips on using supplements safely here but should always speak with your primary care provider before using supplements or alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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