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Viral Hepatitis and SAM-E

Read more about SAM-E.

Overview

Chronic hepatitis can cause backup of bile in the liver, a condition called cholestasis. Use of the supplement SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) may help.

Effect of SAM-E on Viral Hepatitis

SAMe may improve liver-related symptoms in hepatitis patients with cholestasis (backup of bile in the liver).

Research Evidence on SAM-E

Some evidence suggests that SAMe might be helpful for a variety of liver conditions such as cirrhosis, chronic viral hepatitis, pregnancy-related jaundice, and Gilbert's syndrome.

In a 2-week, double-blind study of 220 individuals with cholestasis (backup of bile in the liver), use of the SAMe at a dose of 1,600 mg daily significantly improved liver-related symptoms as compared to placebo.49 Most participants in this study had chronic viral hepatitis.

How to Use SAM-E

A typical full dosage of SAMe is 400 mg taken 3 to 4 times per day. If this dosage works for you, take it for a few weeks and then try reducing the dosage. As little as 200 mg twice daily may suffice to keep you feeling better once the full dosage has "broken through" the symptoms.

However, some people develop mild stomach distress if they start full dosages of SAMe at once. To get around this, you may need to start low and work up to the full dosage gradually.

Recently, SAMe has come on the US market at a recommended dosage of 200 mg twice daily. This dosage labeling makes SAMe appear more affordable (if you're only taking 400 mg per day, you'll spend only about a third or a fourth of what you'd pay for the proper dosage), but it is unlikely that SAMe will actually work when taken at such a low dosage.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

  • Integrative MD
  • Naturopathic doctor
  • Clinical nutritionist or registered dietitian

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.

References

  1. Frezza M, Surrenti C, Manzillo G, et al. Oral S-adenosylmethionine in the symptomatic treatment of intrahepatic cholestasis. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gastroenterology. 1990;99:211-215.

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