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Question: I Heard SAM-e Fights The Blues And Cures Joint Pain. Is This True?

In a recent tabloid newspaper I came across an article promoting a nutritional supplement called SAM-e. This was supposed to help fight the blues and also aid sufferers of joint pain. What exactly is SAM-e?

Answer #1

Below is some information about Sam-e. I had an episode of depression at one time and did not find anti-depressants to help, not to mention the side effects associated with them. I also have fibromyalgia. I started taking Sam-e a few months ago and as long as I am on it, the pain from the fibromyalgia is drastically improved as well as my mood. I stopped taking it a few times to see if it was the result of the Sam-e and found that all my symptoms returned after being off of it for a period of time and improved again shortly after taking it again. I now would not want to be without it.

"SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine) is a dietary supplement that has been clinically shown to promote and support joint health and comfort as well as emotional well-being. SAM-e is a naturally occurring compound that serves as a major source for the production of chemicals in the brain and protects DNA from the genetic mutations associated with aging and disease. SAM-e has been used in clinical studies to treat depression, dementia, demyelination diseases, liver disease, schizophrenia, arthritis and other conditions.

SAM-e has been confirmed by several studies to be more effective in the treatment of depression than traditional pharmaceutical anti-depressants. SAM-e can increase the levels of the important neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and phosphatdylserine.

SAM-e is used to counteract depression and anxiety during the detoxification of drug dependent patients.

SAM-e is used in Europe in the treatment of alcohol related liver damage and cirrhosis. SAM-e also to inactivate estrogens that cause liver damage and promotes bile flow to aid in the digestion of fat.

SAM-e promotes cartilage and the formation of connective tissue in joints while a deficiency of SAM-e in the joints can result in the loss of integrity of cartilage.

Clinical studies demonstrate that 2 tablets (400 mg) a day is an effective level of supplementation for most people or as directed by your qualified health consultant. The best time to take SAM-e is before meals on an empty stomach. Depending on the condition of the individual, some people may achieve greater benefits with a higher level of supplementation. When taking SAM-e be sure to follow the directions of your physician. Evidence indicates that SAM-e will not work when B12 and folate levels are low. It is suggested to take these supplements while supplementing your diet with SAM-e: 1000 mcg Vitamin B12 and 800 mcg Folic Acid are sufficient.

Caution: Those patients suffering from Manic Depression should not take SAM-e. The antidepressant properties of SAM-e may heighten the manic phase."

Answer #2

I have had extremely good results with SAM-e, to the extent that if I do not take it, my mood/attitude starts to slide. I am taking 1200 mg a day (expensive but worth it) and I have read that 1600 mg per day is a maximum, but that results can be had on as little as 400 mg per day. My own mental health regimen is enhanced by 100mg of 5-HTP in the evenings with 250 mg L-Tyrosine, plus 3 x 500 mg doses of DLPA throughout the day. And I make sure to get at least 400-800 mg folic acid. I am also taking 4 tbsps daily of Lecithin granules. All of these things, with the exception of the folic acid and Lecithin, must be taken on an empty stomach or results will be negligible.

As someone who has been chronically depressed for most of my life, and has tried a variety of drugs (with therapy of course), I can definitely say that I very much prefer the SAM-e to the rest for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it just feels better. The psycho-drugs achieved the necessary state of undoing suicidal intent, but made me feel sometimes manic, groggy or just plain bland (like a living dead person) and totally unmotivated. I realize that I likely needed this heavy-duty treatment in order to achieve the level of mental health necessary to experience benefits from natural supplements, so I don't want to suggest for a moment that psychotherapy and psychiatric medication "didn't work" or aren't effective.

What I did find though, was that after several years of those treatments, they just didn't seem to be helping at all. Although I didn't want to kill myself (not to play this aspect down, it is extremely important), I just felt cruddy about everything in my life and the extra weight I had gained from the other drugs compounded the situation. I started seeking alternative health systems and began acupuncture treatments. I started the supplements on the advice of my acupuncturist.

Since that time, I have started a fitness program to get back in shape (and am actually sticking with it!). I feel 100% better able to cope with day to day reality, and just feel physically/mentally overall better. I have not felt the need for a therapist in over a year. Who's to say which was the key component? It is most likely a combination of everything, including a regular exercise regimen and better diet. But again, the SAM-e is key to the extent that if I don't take it, as I mentioned, my mood and attitude start to dip down and I start losing perspective and start eating sugary stuff (very bad for mental health!).

The following advice is empirical and reflects my own personal body chemistry:

1) You can't discount conventional psychotherapy, most especially if you are suicidal or manic. If your mental health is not that extreme and/or you have "plateaued" on the psycho-drugs, you may want to consider natural supplementation.

2) Sugar cravings can indicate serious chemical imbalances which will (not can, will) affect your overall mental AND physical health. THEY DO NOT MEAN that you have no willpower! Get tested for hyper/hypothyroidism and get a 5-hour glucose test to see how your body is taking care of sugar metabolism and insulin production. It is expensive, but the sugar cravings can mean all kinds of things, not the least of which is a pre-diabetic status especially for people in their 30's/40's (i.e. Adult-Onset Diabetes). Get your healthcare provider to go over the results - don't just settle for a "positive" or "negative" response. Take Chromium Picolinate or Chromium Nicotate to enhance your body's ability to deal effectively with sugar. Look into Pancreatin and Choline/Inositol (lipotropic) supplements.

3) If you want to take supplements, start out slow and let your body get used to them over time. DO NOT TAKE ANY SUPPLEMENTS UNLESS YOU HAVE RESEARCHED THEM TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITY. This means understanding how they interact with food and with each other and what time of day is best. It also means figuring out which dosage is right for you. You must be very careful and pay attention to what your body (and the available research!) is telling you on this. You will probably find, as I did, that taking one supplement necessitates a host of others, just to get the most out of or at the least balance the effect on your body. For example, I found that COQ10 was potentiated by L-Carnitine, which is also potentiated by SAM-e. Throw in some Lecithin and you have yourself one potent and synergistic concoction. But SAM-e also needs Vitamins B6, B12 and Folic Acid to "work" properly. But the B-vitamins all need each other! etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Do your homework!

3a) You should always try to get "supplements" in as natural a form as possible - i.e. real food! Only take pills, etc. when you can't find a source that will give you the dosage you really need. I think most will agree that taking an L-Carnitine supplement is better than eating lots of red meat, but look into it before spending the money on supplements. You can get an enormous and healthy dose of Vitamins A and K from spinach, spirulina, kale, broccoli etc.

4) Try alternative medicine - reflexology, acupuncture, yoga, meditation or even just plain massage. Why it works might be as simple as the fact of human touch on your system, but it really does have a beneficial effect.

5) Drink enough water to make everything work right. Not juice, not tea - you really do need the 60-80 oz. per day of plain water, spaced out over the entire day.

6) YOUR BODY IS ALL YOU REALLY OWN. Take care of it so it can take care of you! It's not mind over matter...your mind IS matter! Feed it properly for best results!

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