SAM-e: What Is This Amino Acid Good For?

S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine or SAM-e is an amino acid naturally produced in the body. It helps enhance our moods, strengthen the immune system, and improve pain toleration.

sam-e amino acid

S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine or SAM-e is an amino acid naturally produced in the body and primarily beneficial to the liver. It promotes the release and regulation of certain chemicals in the body which includes phospholipids, hormones, and proteins. Thus, it helps enhance our moods, strengthen the immune system, and improve pain toleration. It also supports cell membrane development.

SAM-e particularly stimulates the production of cysteine (an amino acid of glutathione) which helps strengthens the body’s protection against oxidative stress. 

This compound isn’t found in foods but it may be artificially created in medical laboratories. For individuals who aren’t producing enough SAM-e to cater to the needs of their body, they may obtain this compound through a supplementary form or as medications.

You can take SAM-e by mouth or intravenously. In the US, you can conveniently obtain S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine in dietary supplement form. It is in circulation since 1999. While in Europe, you might need a prescription from your doctor to get one.

Low levels of SAM-e occur when the individuals experience certain kinds of illnesses or a reduction of nutrients such as vitamin b12, methionine, or folate.

Health Benefits and Potential Treatment For Some Medical Conditions

It’s believed to be effective against certain medical conditions and used in the treatment of the following:

  • Liver complications
  • Depression – however, may affect the efficacy of antidepressants if taken simultaneously.
  • Osteoporosis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Lower back pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Bursitis
  • Anxiety
  • Heart conditions
  • Stomach ache
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • Migraine
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Lead poisoning
  • Breaking down of accumulated substance called porphyrin.
  • Intrahepatic Cholestasis – a type of liver dysfunction that usually develops during pregnancy.
  • Some women take SAM-e to relieve symptoms of Premenstrual Disorder (PMS) or a more serious condition of PMS which is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).

It’s also thought to be beneficial as an anti-aging agent or to improve cognitive ability and digestive health. Some also believe that it may help a person quit his nicotine addiction since SAM-e is known to affect serotonin levels. However, there’s no substantial scientific evidence to back up this claim and further studies are needed to confirm its validity. 

Although S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine is potentially beneficial in the treatment of specific types of disorder, most of the studies about its efficacy and safety are still inconclusive. Thus, to avoid any complications, seek the help of your medical practitioner before including SAM-e in your daily routine or using it as a medicine.

How Effective is S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine?

As pain relievers

SAM-e can work as a pain reliever and ease symptoms caused by several health issues like osteoarthritis. It may work the same as aspirin and other pain killers but it may take longer to effect. In most cases, individuals suffering from any form of arthritis may need to ingest SAM-e and endure about a month before the symptoms ease.


Researches were suggesting that SAM-e can help depressed persons and relieve certain symptoms of fibromyalgia. In treating depression, it’s usually given orally or intravenously. Also, it might work on sexual dysfunctions caused by depression.

It’s shown that SAM-e can help relieve several symptoms of depression and can have the same effects as prescription medications. You may, however, need to take them separately from your regular antidepressants or any specific types of medications without your psychiatrists’ order. This is because it might have an impact on how your medicine works.

For example, S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine can affect the production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin. We all know how antidepressants works and taking them together may harm your overall wellbeing. For your safety, avoid combining these two substances. Some examples of antidepressants to avoid include Tofranil, Prozac, Anafranil, Zoloft, and Paxil. 

Another example is cough medicine such as Dextromethorphan or Robitussin may also affect serotonin levels. Taking both may significantly lead to adverse side effects which include heart conditions, anxiety, and shivers. To avoid these side effects, refrain from taking both substances at the same time.  

Liver Health

Also, there is scientific evidence to suggest that it might work against liver diseases such as cirrhosis and intrahepatic cholestasis. However, in cases of liver cirrhosis, it may only be effective at its early and may become impotent as it worsens.

For women with intrahepatic cholestasis, ingesting SAM-e eases some of its symptoms which include fatigue, irritation, and signs of liver damage.  However, you might not want to completely replace the traditional prescription medication for intrahepatic cholestasis like ursodeoxycholic acid with SAM-e. Although SAM-e may have numerous benefits on liver-related disorders during pregnancy, it may not be as effective as those prescribed medicines.

Some health experts also believe that SAM-e may also be useful in the treatment of the following medical conditions: seizures, heart conditions, multiple sclerosis, abdominal pain, spine injury, migraine, lower back pain, tendonitis, and bursitis. However, there are no scientific studies to conclusively support these claims.


Research released by Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal in 2010 states that SAM-e supplements may help in the treatment of several disorders such as fibromyalgia. In it, they evaluated 70 case studies that involve therapies for fatigue and fibromyalgia. Alongside other possible therapies like intake of l-carnitine and magnesium supplements or alternative therapies like meditation, acupuncture, and yoga, the publisher of the research suggests that SAM-e is one of the most effective. This may be the case, it’s still advisable to stick to the traditional therapeutic approach or if not possible, seek medical counsel if you want to try SME-e.

Side Effects and Health Concerns

S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine is generally regarded as likely safe, thus, proper diligence is advised for those planning to use this substance.

It may cause possible side effects which include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Anxiety may occur if taken over the required dosage.
  • Gas
  • Insomnia
  • Mild headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Constipation

It’s possibly safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. As mentioned, it may have therapeutic value for intrahepatic cholestasis. It’s usually given during the trimester patients intravenously (IV). The typical dosage is at 800 mg of SAM-e given intravenously and used for about 14-20 days.   At this dosage, it may not lead to adverse side effects but studies concerning over-dosage are inconclusive. Thus, to avoid any complications, follow the prescribed dosage.

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