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Sam-E, or S-adenosylmethionine, is a dietary supplement that is becoming widely popular as a natural remedy for depression. This supplement is used to treat loss of energy, fatigue, appetite problems, concentration difficulties, and other symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Occasionally, Sam-E is also used by patients suffering from fibromyalgia or migraine headaches that have not responded to conventional treatments.
Although Sam-E was first discovered in the early 1950s, it was not formally studied as an antidepressant until two decades later. Europeans have used it to treat depression for over 20 years, but Americans were first introduced to Sam-E in 1999.
The amino acid methionine and adenosine triphospate, which is an energy-producing compound that is in all cells of the body, causes a reaction, which leads to the creation of Sam-E. It affects more than 35 different biochemical processes throughout the body and works to treat the symptoms of depression by raising the brain's levels of dopamine and serotonin. However, certain medications or conditions such as liver disease can interfere with the body’s natural production of Sam-E. Small amounts are found in various foods, but this is typically not enough to produce a noticeable improvement in the symptoms of depression.
Sam-E can be purchased from health food stores and most major drugstores, as well as from several online retailers. For best results, look for supplements labeled as “pharmaceutical grade” and sold in foil blister packs.
A typical dose of Sam-E is usually 400 to 800 mg per day. This dietary supplement is usually taken in conjunction with folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. Most people say they begin to notice results within one to two weeks, but maximum effectiveness is generally not achieved until one month of regular use. The supplement should be taken on an empty stomach, generally either one hour before or two hours after a meal.
Side effects from Sam-E are rare, but may include diarrhea, skin rash, headache, heartburn, insomnia, dry mouth, or dizziness. Unlike many prescription anti-depressants, Sam-E has not been linked to weight gain or sexual dysfunction.
It is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor before taking Sam-E. Although this dietary supplement is available without a prescription, it can cause adverse reactions with certain prescription medications. In addition, Sam-E should not be taken by those with heart disease, bipolar disorder, or Parkinson’s disease. In pregnant women, the supplement may increase the risk of the fetus developing spina bifida and other serious birth defects.
Sam-E is sometimes referred to as SAM, AdoMet, S-Adensyl Methionine, L-Methionine, and Ademethionine. However, it should not be confused with St. John’s Wort—another popular supplement often used to treat depression.