How to use SAM (S-Adenosyl Methionine)

  • 16 Feb 2011
  • Reading time 3 mins
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One of most valuable nutrients for recovery is SAM (S-adenosyl methionine), which delivers ‘methyl’ nutrients in the brain, making it work better. SAM will help your brain better utilise other amino acids. SAM also helps protect your liver and regenerate healthy liver cells. Although it usually begins working within a few days, try it for at least a week because it can take that long to feel the effects.

What is SAM?

SAM is an important nutrient that occurs in every living cell. Supplementation with SAM improves your ability to make adrenalin, noradrenalin, serotonin, dopamine and phospholipids for use in the brain and helps keep these neurotransmitters in balance. SAM is made from the proper metabolism of homocysteine, so by lowering your homocysteine with therapeutic levels of folic acid, B12, B6 and trimethylglycine (TMG) your SAM levels will go up.

How do you take SAM?

It is available over the counter in some countries, but only on prescription in the UK and Europe. It is available on the Web, and comes in different forms. One we like is S-adenosyl-L-methionine tosylate disulfate that comes in sealed ‘blister packs’ to protect against oxidation. Generally, it is best to start with 200mg twice a day for several days and then slowly increase up to 800mg twice a day. The protective blister packs, should not be opened before you are ready to take them, and the tablet should not be cut in half to achieve a lower dose, because the SAM may break down or oxidise before you have taken it. It should be taken on an empty stomach for the best absorption.

Is SAM Safe?

SAM is a safe, natural amino acid normally made from methionine and homocysteine. No toxicity has been reported even at much higher doses than the therapeutic amounts of 800–1,600mg daily. Occasionally, some people experience mild to moderate nausea, heartburn or stomach ache when starting on 800mg twice daily on an empty stomach mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Therefore, it is best to start with 200mg twice a day for several days and then slowly increase up to 800mg twice a day.

In general, side effects in SAM studies are few and mild. In some studies, SAM caused fewer or less serious side effects than the placebo! In a double-blind study with 734 people comparing SAM with the NSAID Naproxen and placebo, ten people withdrew from the study due to side effects from SAM, compared to 13 from the placebo and 17 from Naproxen.

The most commonly reported side effects are gastrointestinal, primarily heartburn, nausea and stomach ache. There have been occasional reports of mania or hypomania (excessive mood elevation and overstimulation), but this side effect is much rarer than the gastrointestinal side effects. However, for this reason people with bipolar disorder should take SAM only under the supervision of a doctor.

Who is likely to benefit from SAM?

People suffering from alcohol or hepatitis C-induced liver damage, cirrhosis, toxic chemical exposure, paracetamol (acetaminophen) or NSAID-liver damage, oestrogen-induced liver problems, bile disorders, and environmental chemical hypersensitivity may all benefit from SAM.

SAM also benefits people suffering from depression, especially people who cannot tolerate standard antidepressant drugs (such as tricyclics, SSRIs, and so on), or who have little or no response to them. SAM may help reduce depression and drug craving by increasing brain levels of dopamine and serotonin, two key antidepressant neurotransmitters.

SAM is also effective in treating depression secondary to chronic diseases such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, joint injuries, osteoarthritis, liver disease and alcoholism. It is separately helpful in the treatment of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. Furthermore, whereas NSAIDs tend to damage and irritate the gut lining with chronic use, SAM is actually protective of the stomach lining.

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