Depression and SAM-E
S-ademosylmathionine (SAM-e) is an essential amino acid that is needed to maintain healthy neurotransmitter processes in the brain. In certain parts of Europe, such as Italy, SAM-e is a more popular treatment for depression than pharmaceutical medications.
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Effect of SAM-E on Depression
SAM-e works by enabling the production of glutathione, which is a critical antioxidant that protects the body against free radical damage. More importantly, it is a crucial regulator of methylation in the brain1.
Research Evidence on SAM-E
Studies show that undermethylation is highly correlated with depression. The brain needs SAM-e to activate 35 different types of methylation in the brain1.
How to Use SAM-E
The normal dosage for SAM-e is 1600-3600 mg per day. It is recommended to separate the daily dosage into 2-4 doses of 400 mg each. Its recommended that SAM-e is taken 30 minutes before eating2.
Side Effects and Warnings
There have been no reported deaths from overdose of SAM-e. Side effects can include headache, nausea, anxiety, insomnia, dry mouth, reduced appetite, sweating, and dizziness.
Some people develop mild stomach distress if they start full dosages of SAMe at once. To get around this, start with a lower dosage and work up to the full dosage gradually.
SAM-e should not be taken with MAOIs.
1 Bottiglieri, T & Bottiglieri ,K.H.T. (2009). S-adenosylmethionine levels in psychiatric and neurological disorders: a review. Acta Nerologica Scandinavica. (89)S154.
2 Shannon, S. (2002). Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Mental Health. San Diego: Academic Press.