S-adenosylmethionine, also called SAMe or Sammy, is a supplement that is claimed to be an effective treatment for many medical conditions. SAMe occurs naturally within the body and is used in methylation reactions, a common type of biochemical reaction. Methylation reactions also involve folic acid and vitamin B12. Research suggests the SAMe might be beneficial for treating depression, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, liver disease, and an AIDS-related spinal cord condition.
SAMe has also been claimed to be an effective treatment for MS. These claims are not based on convincing evidence. There may be a small subpopulation of people with MS who suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency. Some claim that because vitamin B12 and SAMe take part in similar chemical processes, SAMe must be beneficial for MS. SAMe is also sometimes used as a treatment for rare genetic diseases that produce symptoms similar to MS, and many conclude from this is must be beneficial for treating MS as well. No available research suggests that either vitamin B12 or SAMe have a major role in the disease process of MS. SAMe also does not appear to be effective for treating other neurologic conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or epilepsy.
SAMe is generally well tolerated. Minor side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, constipation, mild insomnia, anxiety, and dizziness. Consult a physician or other healthcare provider before taking SAMe or any other antidepressant compounds. SAMe should not be taken with antidepressant medications. SAMe has been shown to amplify the positive and negative effects of steroids. It has also been reported to reduce the effectiveness of levodopa, a Parkinson’s disease medication.
References and Additional Reading
Bowling AC. Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Multiple Sclerosis. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2007.
Bowling AC, Stewart TS. Dietary Supplements and Multiple Sclerosis: A Health Professional’s Guide. New York: Demos Medical Publishing, 2004.
Jellin JM, Batz F, Hitchens K, et al. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. Stockton, CA: Therapeutic Research Faculty, 2009.
Ulbricht CE, Basch EM, eds. Natural Standard Herb and Supplement Reference: Evidence-Based Clinical Reviews. St. Louis: Elsevier-Mosby, 2005.