What is SAM-e? The non-technical, short explanation – SAM-e helps other molecules in the body do their job, including the formation of key compounds in the brain, like the neurotransmitter dopamine and the mood-enhancer serotonin making you feel like your “normal self”. In addition, it helps to maintain desirable levels of glutathione, a major antioxidant that protects cells against damage from oxygen molecules called free radicals. These other molecules play a role in depression, liver disease and other conditions. When SAM-e levels are low, the other molecules can’t do their jobs as well and can leave you feeling out of sorts. Taken as a supplement, SAM-e can help compensate for any deficiencies and assist the body in running efficiently.

Technical explanation:

SAM-e (pronounced sammy or samee), which is short for S-adenosylmethionine, is a molecule that is naturally found and produced in the human body. The SAM-e molecule is responsible for many important functions in your body. SAM-e exists in cells and is involved in a variety of important biochemical functions, including cell maintenance and nerve function. It literally goes to almost every cell in your body and turns it on to work, like a master switch. It is considered to be a metabolite of the essential amino acid L-methionine.

SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine) was discovered in Italy in 1952. The first clinical study of SAM-e for depression was not completed until the mid 1970’s. Over the year there have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of SAM-e. SAM-e has only been available as an over the counter dietary supplement in the US since 1999, but it has been used as a prescription drug in Italy since 1979, Spain since 1985, and Germany since 1989. SAM-e is most commonly used for treatment of depression, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and liver disease. SAM-e has also been found effective for treating heart disease, bursitis, tendinitis, chronic lower back pain, anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, slowing the aging process, chronic fatigue syndrome, improving intellectual performance, Parkinson’s disease, ADD (attention deficit disorder), multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, migraines and more.Today an enteric coated oral form is used that is more resistant to oxidation and gastric enzyme degradation which allows SAM-e to pass through the digestive track and into the blood flow.

The body produces SAM-e from the amino acid methionine. It is formed when methionine combines with ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a nucleotide that exists in all living cells. ATP is the major source of cellular energy. When the liver is healthy it uses this process to make SAM-e. However, because of age, osteoarthritis, liver disease, the overuse of over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs as well as other factors, levels of SAM-e in the body can fluctuate or decline. Supplementation with SAM-e is the easiest way to increase intake.

Other names for SAM-e:

SAM, SAMe, Sammy, SAMe-e, S-Adenosylmethionine, S-Adenosylmethionine Butanedisulfonate, S-Adenosylmethionine Tosylate, S-Adenosylmethionine Tosylate Disulfate, Ademetionine, Adenosylmethionine, S-Adenosyl Methionine, S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, AdoMet.