Ask The Expert
August 26, 2010
The supplement known as SAMe has been used for a variety of medical problems. These have included psychiatric illnesses, musculoskeletal problems and liver diseases. There have been studies of SAMe showing that it can reduce pain from osteoarthritis. There is some work that suggests it might benefit adults with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Unfortunately, we don't have much good data on the effectiveness of SAMe in treating depression. The clinical studies that have been done are either of poor quality or are inconclusive. The most commonly used dosages of SAMe in trials of depression were 800 -- 1,600 milligrams daily for 6 weeks. It is not clear from the evidence whether or not SAMe really has an effect on depression.
What about safety? It is important to remember that supplements like SAMe have not undergone the same rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness as prescription medicines. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not strictly regulate supplements as it does medicines. In addition, the purity of SAMe sold in stores can vary from brand to brand, as this too is not regulated.
However, studies have shown that SAMe appears to be fairly well tolerated. Frequent reported side effects include nausea, rashes and anxiety. SAMe may lower blood sugar levels, which could be a problem in people who take insulin, for example. Also, there have been reports of insomnia, mood change, headache and hyperactivity. SAMe has not been adequately studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women, the elderly or children.
If you are considering taking this supplement, you should first speak with your doctor to see if it would be a good choice for you.