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What Is Sam-e Used For? Benefits, Side-Effects, And How To Take?

Scientifically SAM-e is termed as S-adenosylmethionine, ademetionine or 1, 4- Butanedisulfonate or toluene sulfate. However, the standard name for S-adenosylmethionine is SAM-e or SAM.

SAM-e is a type of molecule formed naturally within the body by the reaction between Methionine and ATP or Adenosyl Triphosphate. SAM-e can also be recreated in the laboratory. SAM-e is involved in the activation, formation, and breakdown of the body chemicals which include the proteins, hormones, phospholipids and few drugs.

The dietary supplement SAM-e has been available in the US since 1999 while in Italy since 1979, in Germany since 1989 while in Spain since 1985.

What are the uses of Sam-e?

Following are the purpose of using SAM-e in our daily lives:

Oral use:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart disease
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bursitis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Chronic lower back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Aids in the improvement of Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, and mental performance.
  • It is also used to treat multiple sclerosis, migraine headache, seizures, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome) and lead poisoning.
  • It also aids in breaking down a chemical known as Bilirubin or helps in disorders that are associated with the buildup of a compound known as Porphyrin.
  • Some women even prefer taking SAM-e for premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
  • It is also utilized for relieving the symptoms of patients who are immunocompromised and are HIV positive.

Intravenous or i/v use:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression
  • AIDS-related nervous system disorders
  • Liver disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Cirrhosis
  • Intrahepatic cholestasis- a liver disorder which might occur in pregnant ladies

Mechanism action of Sam-e

The body utilizes SAM-e for making a particular type of chemical in the body which plays an essential role in controlling pain, liver disease or depression and other conditions.

However, if a person is unable to make SAM-e in the required quantity, then he or she needs to consume SAM-e supplements.

Top Health Benefits of Sam-e

The research on possible benefits of SAM-e include:

  • SAM-e helps treat Osteoarthritis

SAM-e shows promising results in treating osteoarthritis of the hips or knees. It is said that SAM-e has anti-inflammatory properties along with it relieves pain. According to some studies, it might promote cartilage repair.

According to the report published in 2009, in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, four clinical trials were analyzed with 656 participants in total revealing that benefits of  SAM-e include aids in reducing pain and improvement in function in people suffering from osteoarthritis.

However, these findings were inconclusive due to the poor quality of trials.

  • Sam-e is best for the treatment of depression

According to research published in 2016, in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, eight published clinical trials were analyzed for comparison between the use of SAM-e and antidepressants such as Desipramine, Escitalopram and Imipramine or placebo.

It concluded that SAM-e had superior effects when compared to placebo if used in combination with SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors.

However, the trials were of low quality. Some participants did experience a few side effects similar to the placebo.

The reviewers concluded that the use of SAM-e needs more investigation in association with depression for more extensive and better trials to achieve firm conclusions related to the evidence.

  • Sam-e is an effective cure for Fibromyalgia syndrome effects

According to the research review published in 2010, from the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 70 published clinical trials were evaluated by the scientists regarding the use of complementary therapies for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.

There were many therapies that appeared to treat fibromyalgia and included acupuncture, magnesium, Meditative practices, L-carnitine and SAM-e.

However, it showed that SAM-e was the most efficient and potential agent in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia.

However, the researchers need further evidence to claim SAM-e as a perfect supplement for relieving fibromyalgia.

  • Sam-e is good for chronic liver disease

Benefits of SAM-e include aids in improving liver function in people suffering from liver disease in chronic stages, according to the research review published in 2015, mentioned in the Journal Plos One.

However, according to the 12 published articles in previous years, it indicates that the benefits of Sam-e are limited in treating conditions such as cholestasis and viral hepatitis.

Insufficient evidence is also available regarding the benefits of SAM-e for the treatment of:

  • Alcohol-related liver disease
  • ADHD or attention deficit hyperactive syndrome
  • Gilbert syndrome (having a low amount of bilirubin)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hepatitis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Heart disease
  • Anxiety
  • Blood infections or sepsis and many others

Side effects of Sam-e

This dietary supplement is safe when consumed orally, I/V or injected as a shot in an appropriate way. However, it might lead to the following side effects if taken in high doses:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Dry mouth
  4. Constipation
  5. Headache
  6. Anorexia
  7. Dizziness
  8. Sweating
  9. Skin rash
  10. Low blood sugar levels
  11. Heart palpitations if taken at night
  12. Heartburn
  13. Gas
  14. Triggers allergic reactions in some people
  15. Mild insomnia
  16. Nervousness
  17. It might result in anxiety if a patient is suffering from depression Warnings & precautions.

Warnings & precautions

  • During pregnancy, SAM-e is safe if given intravenously for the short-term during the last trimester of pregnancy. You can use 800 mg of SAM-e intravenously for around 14-20 days without experiencing any side effects. However, enough evidence is not available regarding the use of SAM-e during pregnancy, so it is better to avoid consuming it.
  • During the breastfeeding phase, avoid consuming SAM-e as enough information is not available.
  • For children, SAM-e is safe if you consume it orally or I/V for the short term.
  • The continuous use of SAM-e in patients with Bipolar disorder can result in the conversion of depression to mania.
  • The method of SAM-e might result in worsening the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease and inherited disorders such as Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome.
  • SAM-e might have a negative impact on the central nervous system and might interfere with surgical procedures. It is advised to avoid consuming this supplement for around two weeks before the scheduled surgery due to the impact of SAM-e on blood vessels.
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Drug interactions with Sam-e

  • SAM-E interacts with the anti-depressant drugs such as Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Clomipramine, Paroxetine, Imipramine, Tranylcypromine, and It is because of the similar mode of action of the two drugs,i.e., increased production of serotonin which is a brain chemical. As both the medications result in the enhancement of similar brain chemical it leads to serious side effects such as shivering, heart problems, and anxiety. Avoid taking SAM-e with the anti-depressant medications and MAOIs.
  • Avoid taking Dextromethorphan with SAM-e as it also results in enhanced production of serotonin leading to similar adverse effects as with the anti-depressant medications.
  • SAM-e interacts with Levodopa which is a drug used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. SAM-e results in changing the chemical composition of Levodopa resulting in reduced effectiveness of this drug. The symptoms of the disease might also get worse if SAM-e is taken along with Levodopa.
  • SAM-e can also interact with Meperidine, Pentazocine, and Tramadol leading to the increased production of Serotonin due to each of these drugs. The severe side effects might occur if SAM-e is used alongside each of the medications mentioned above which include shivering, heart problems, stiff muscles, confusion, and anxiety.

How to consume Sam-e and what are the associated dosages related to this supplement?

The following are the mentioned doses and methods of taking SAM-e:

  • By mouth

For depression

You need to consume around 1600 mg of Sam-e each day in two divided doses for approximately eight weeks. You can either use this supplement alone or in combination with antidepressant medications.

For osteoarthritis

It is advised to consume 600-1200 mg of Sam-e in around three divided doses for approximately 84 days.

The recommended dosage is around 1200 mg/ day in the initial phase and then 400 mg/ day in the maintenance phase.

For cirrhosis

Take around 600 mg of SAM-e each day for roughly a month. You can consume a combination of 30 mg of SAM-e with 100 mcg of Vitamin B12 for 30 days and around six times daily for the treatment of cirrhosis.

The recommended dosage is around 800-1000 mg/ day.

For fibromyalgia

Two divided doses of 800 mg SAM-e each day for around six weeks can be used.

For sexual dysfunction

Take 400 mg of SAM-e twice each day for around two weeks and further increase the dose to 800 mg twice each day for six weeks.

For conditions such as intrahepatic cholestasis in which bile from the liver is blocked or either slow in production

Take 500 mg of SAM-e twice daily, or 1600 mg of SAM-e can be consumed daily for around two weeks in two divided doses for this condition.

  • By injection

For depression

400-800 mg of SAM-e has been used to treat depression with or without anti-depressants intravenously for around 2-4 weeks.

For cirrhosis

800 mg of SAM-e by I/V has been used for treating cirrhosis every day for around two weeks or around 250 mg twice each day for approximately 30 days.

For osteoarthritis

400 mg of SAM-e has been in use for treating osteoarthritis by I/V daily for approximately five days followed by an increased dose of around 600 mg of SAM-e by mouth for 23 days in three divided doses.


The ideal dosage for SAM-e is not yet established. All the dosages mentioned above are advised according to different studies. However, take advice or consult your doctor before consuming this dietary supplement.

Sometimes you need to increase the dose of SAM-e for a few weeks which might aid in reducing the side effects which include anxiety and restlessness.

It is highly difficult or impossible for someone to survive with a chronic condition. Some studies and research do indicate that SAM-e is beneficial in treating these diseases, but we need to be 100% sure until these supplements are well-designed, with large-scale clinical trials and proper conclusions.

Avoid taking SAM-e in conjunction with other drugs or replacing them without the doctor’s prescription as it might have deleterious effects.

Be sure to consult your doctor regarding the pros and cons of SAM-e before consuming it for the underlying medical conditions.

Jennifer Kurtz
Jennifer Kurtz studied medicine at the New Jersey School of Medicine (Rutgers). She is passionate about developing her knowledge of Cannabis, Nootropics, Kratom, and nutritional supplements. In addition to attending medical webinars and conferences, she loves to write research-based articles for magazines, healthcare professionals, and medical agencies.

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