by Suzanne Fisher
Nature’s Country Store
Pronounced as if it were spelled ‘Sammy,’ SAMe stands for S-Adenosyl-L-methionine, a nutrient Europe has long known about, and Americans are just discovering. SAMe has successfully been used to treat the following:
- Age-related brain disorders
- Certain learning and memory disorders
- Cirrhosis and other liver damage
- Liver damage from chemical injury
- Digestive Disorders
SAMe has many important functions in our bodies, functions that are not met as well when we have a chronic illness or as we age. Some of the more important functions are: mood elevation, blood detoxification, and cartilage formation. SAMe is found in every living organism. In the human body, it is directly involved in more than 40 biochemical reactions and indirectly involved in many others. SAMe is one of the most important ‘methyl donors’ in the body.
Our bodies produce SAMe by combining the essential amino acid methionine and ATP (created in our cells by the combining of glucose and oxygen), the body’s primary energy molecule. Methionine comes from the following food sources: beans, eggs, fish, garlic, lentils, meat, onions, soybeans, seeds, and yogurt. But, methionine alone is not sufficient to make SAMe; ATP is required.
Unfortunately, our diets are not good sources of SAMe. When meats or other sources of dietary SAMe are cooked, stored, or processed, what little SAMe is in them breaks down into other compounds. While methionine is needed to make SAMe, although one might think it would help, supplementing with methionine does not enhance the body’s production of SAMe. However, through research, a stable form of SAMe is now available on the market in supplement form.
As with any supplement, there are several brands of SAMe, so when purchasing SAMe, remember the following criteria. Products need to list both the amount of the elemental SAMe and the amount of the salt from which the elemental SAMe is derived. SAMe, being highly unstable, can be compromised by moisture and heat. Therefore, tablets need to be sealed in double-sided aluminum packages. Make sure you get only enteric-coated SAMe. It is six times more bioavailable as non-enteric coated tablets, kinder to the stomach, and remains more stable in the body. SAMe is pretty pricey, but do not allow price to influence your buying decision. The best product will yield quick and definite results while poor substitutes will only prove frustrating to your efforts to be healthier.
SAMe does not mix well with some prescription medications, like antidepressants such as Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) and MAO Inhibitors, so talk with a doctor before using SAMe if you are on any of these medications. Do not use SAMe if you have been diagnosed as having Bipolar Affective Disorder (also known as Manic Depressive Disorder). People with Parkinson’s need to consult their doctors before supplementing with SAMe.
One of the very best versions of SAMe on the market today is made by Jarrow Formulas. It is available from Nature’s Country Store at
SAMe is a Methyl Donor
Like a good Samaritan, SAMe is one of several methyl donors in the body. Methyl donors are important. They help us maintain good health, and they help us defend against a wide range of diseases. Improving the body’s methylation (a fancy term meaning methyl donating) helps reduce the production of homocysteine (a toxic amino acid known for damaging) the heart and blood vessels). Methyl donors also help us protect ourselves against cancer, damage to our joints, and diseases of the brain, nervous system, and liver. Additionally, methyl donors act to reduce the effects of aging, and they are important in the body’s production of sulfur-containing antioxidants.
So, what does a methyl donor do? On a most basic level in our bodies, methyl donors protect our DNA by attaching groups of methyl to our DNA to protect it from having the genes responsible for many diseases activated. Methylation (the attaching of these methyl groups) is active in every cell in our bodies and is important in many body functions such as muscle-building protein production, liver function, fat metabolism, and the production of neurotransmitters. Our bodies are constantly transforming one substance into another substance. Methylation is one of the ways these transformations happen.
Methylation is supported by the following nutrients: folic acid, trimethylglycine, and Vitamins B6 and B12. But, methylation can be hindered by things that place undue stress on the liver such as environmental toxins, smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and high fat or low antioxidant diets.
SAMe and Depression
Depression can have physical and/or emotional causes. Depression can be caused by:
- a chronic illness such as thyroid insufficiency,
- diets low in vitamins and minerals and high in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and junk foods,
- excessive intake of coffee (about five cups per day)
- excessive consumption of alcohol, especially before bedtime, which interferes with the body’s production of melatonin (necessary for restful sleep), and:
- issues such as the loss of a loved one or a job, accidents, aging and other life events that cause sadness.
Depending on the dosage and the method of delivery (oral or injection), supplementation with SAMe has been found to begin to reverse biochemical depression (depression with physical causes) in as little as a week’s time, with no side effects. Supplementing with SAMe has been most successful when combined with improvement in diet and cessation of the following: smoking, alcohol consumption before bedtime, and excessive coffee intake.
SAMe and Migraines
While scientists do not yet fully understand the mechanism by which this happens, supplementation with SAMe is an effective pain-reliever for migraine headaches. The pain relief appears over a period of weeks and sometimes months and remains as long as SAMe supplementation is used. It has been theorized that SAMe’s impact on the liver might be the basis for this migraine pain relief since in many people migraines are triggered by food allergies and/or tyramines found in such foods as chocolate and cheeses.
SAMe and Arthritis
A disorder that afflicts roughly 12% of the American population, osteoarthritis causes joint pain. In clinical trials SAMe has provided relief equivalent to supplementation with glucosamine.
Rheumatoid arthritis, which appears to be an autoimmune disease, involves inflammation of not only the joints, but the connective tissues throughout the body. Affecting about 3% of the population, rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to mistakenly attack its own tissues, resulting in painful, swollen joints and chronic, system-wide inflammation.
SAMe has been shown in animal trials to increase cartilage formation. Additionally, SAMe offers mild, yet beneficial pain reduction in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. SAMe also enhances the function of glucosamine and chondrointin. Benefits of SAMe supplementation appear in as little as two weeks. Recommended supplementation is that one begin with 400 mg. three times a day. This dosage may eventually be reduced to a maintenance dosage of 200 mg. twice a day.
Cartilage formation is dependent on adequate supplies of Vitamin C and the mineral Manganese, so both need to accompany SAMe supplementation for maximum benefit in osteoarthritis. Boron is also recommended. All of these SAMe-supporting nutrients are available in Tyler’s Ipriflavone Osteo Formula available from Nature’s Country Store at
SAMe and Chemical Sensitivity, Weight Loss, and Liver Health
Chemical sensitivity stems from liver impairment in which the liver cannot effectively detoxify foreign chemicals. Foreign chemicals include man-made chemicals as well as natural chemicals. The liver’s health (or lack of health) affects every other part of the human body. SAMe is a key element in the liver’s production of lipotrophic complexes, which are used in processing fats and in eliminating toxins. Symptoms that are often linked to poor liver function include: fatigue, digestive problems (indigestion, esophageal reflux, and poor metabolism that results in vitamin, amino acid and mineral deficiencies), and elevated responses to environmental toxins.
One of the most important things that the liver does is to secrete bile into the gall bladder. Bile goes from there into the small intestine, where it breaks down fat globules into smaller substances that can either be used or are transported out of the body via its elimination system. Without an effective and fully functioning process for fat removal, fat gets deposited in various areas of the body. An under functioning liver can be a reason for unexplained weight gain. It can also cause fatty deposits to be lodged in the liver, further impairing its function.
The liver is responsible for transforming proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals into substances that are usable by the body. While detoxification to some extent is carried out by every cell in the body, the liver also has the job of detoxifying and/or inactivating the many of the substances produced by the body or encountered in the environment. These include:
- ammonia that is caused by the metabolism of proteins
- the toxic aftereffects of the production by the body of hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone that are known to impair liver function
- supplemental hormones (both natural and synthetic) and oral contraceptives
- the toxins produced by bacteria, fungi and viruses that are in the body
- natural toxins such as the aflatoxins found in most all peanut products
- synthetic environmental toxins such as pesticides, synthetic fragrances, and the estrogenic compounds found in many halogenated products such as plastics.
In fact, anything foreign to our bodies that enters our bodies must be detoxified and rendered harmless by our liver. What a major task that is! SAMe assists the liver with doing these jobs by intervening in the detoxification process. SAMe donates its methyl group to be fused to these toxins so they can safely be eliminated. SAMe also encourages the production of bile, which is the major transport system for getting rid of toxins from the body. A number of clinical trials have shown that SAMe is successful in protecting the liver and maintaining good liver function when excess estrogen is present in the body. Based on these trials, SAMe is probably also effective at protecting the body when it is confronted with the endocrine disruptors found in some pesticides and halogenated products such as plastics. In animal trials, SAME has also been found to protect against the deleterious effects of alcoholism.
Toxic hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver caused by chemicals such as drugs, industrial solvents, and pollutants. Toxins can occasionally cause chronic liver disease and even cirrhosis. Toxins that can damage the liver have been divided into two groups:
- Predictable toxins, those that are known to cause toxic hepatitis and liver damage with sufficient exposure to one or more of these chemicals, examples being cleaning solvents, carbon tetrachloride, and the pain reliever acetaminophen.
- Unpredictable toxins, which are toxins that damage the liver in a small proportion of individuals exposed to the chemical.
Unpredictable injury produced by most toxins is very poorly understood, but recent research suggests that a toxic response to a drug or foreign chemical probably depends on the kind, status, and amount of specific enzymes a person has for metabolizing the toxin. Some forms of chemical liver injury will occur within hours of exposure to a chemical while other liver injury can take from days to weeks of the exposure to many months of regular ingestion of a drug before liver injury becomes apparent. Each toxin the liver encounters that overwhelms it detoxification process causes specific changes in the liver. These changes range from impairment of liver function to death of parts of the liver.
What starts out as toxic hepatitis or liver inflammation may quickly progress to cirrhosis. During cirrhosis, the liver ceases to perform much of its detoxification duties. It produces interlacing strands of fibrous tissues that constrict and bind the liver, thus reducing its functional capacity. Even in the most extreme cases of cirrhosis, SAMe has been shown to help the liver function better. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that SAMe can also help persons with chemical sensitivity in reducing their sensitivity to chemicals by assisting the liver with its detoxification processes.
SAMe is a key ingredient in liver health as well as in restoring liver health.
Article written by:
Nature’s Country Store
Aylett, VA 23009
SAMe: The Ultimate Methyl Donor
by Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D.
published by Jarrow Formulas, Inc.
Los Angeles, CA.
Copyrighted © Suzanne Fisher