SAM-e stands for S-adenosylmethionine, and it is an amino acid which is developed from combining methionine and adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. SAM-e is made in the liver, and the production of it can be affected by prescription and over-the-counter drugs, alcohol and environmental pollution, which are all hard on the liver. Lowered production of SAM-e is beginning to be linked to diseases including depression and osteoarthritis. SAM-e supplements are being used to heal these diseases, according to Allison Sarubin-Fragakis in her book, "The Health Professional's Guide to Popular Dietary Supplements."
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One of the ways that SAM-e is being used is to fight depression. Although only recently becoming known in the United States, SAM-e has been used for two decades in Europe as a natural anti-depressant, according to the book, "A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Depression" by Archibald Hart and Catherine Hart Weber. SAM-e already exists in the body, as it is manufactured from certain amino acids in food. When SAM-e is low in the body, less serotonin and dopamine is produced -- these are neurotransmitters connected to mood. Hart and Weber add that SAM-e appears to be comparable to state-of-the-art treatments for depression without having significant side effects.
SAM-e has also been available for several years in Europe as a prescription medicine to treat arthritis symptoms, according to author Amye L. Leong in her book, "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Arthritis." She also says that some studies indicate that SAM-e may relieve the pain of osteoarthritis as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS, while having fewer side effects. SAM-e may be helpful for arthritis because it helps produce cell membranes. Still, there are currently no studies which show the effects of long-term SAM-e use.
Another possible benefit of SAM-e is that it may help with adult ADHD. In her book, "20/20 Thinking: 1,000 Powerful Strategies to Sharpen Your Mind, Brighten Your Mood, and Boost Your Memory," author Maggie Greenwood-Robinson says that SAM-e has been tested for adult ADHD and showed "impressive" results. In a small study of eight men, six experienced less anxiety and felt more confident while taking the supplement. This benefit may be linked to the ability of SAM-e to increase serotonin and dopamine, which help increase focus.
SAM-e is also purported to both detoxify the liver and help protect against liver damage. Sarubin-Fragakis backs up this assertion, noting laboratory research and some clinical trials have suggested SAM-e protects the liver, along with slightly improving the outlook for individuals suffering from advanced cirrhosis. She adds that much more research needs to be done before SAM-e can be thought of as a possible cure for liver disease, so be sure to check with your doctor before consuming SAM-e if you suffer from liver issues.