S-Adenosyl-L-Methione (SAMe)

While SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-methione) does not occur in plenty in our diet, one of its forerunners called amino acid methionine is found in abundance in several protein-rich foods. Till date, it could not be ascertained whether or not enhancing methionine intake will augment SAMe production by the body. In the United States, several health food stores have been selling a number of supplements containing SAMe since 1997.

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Over the ages people have been wary about the aging process and have been trying various methods to stem this natural phenomenon. In the recent times, even researchers and scientists have concentrated on the changes that take place within our body that are related with usual aging. While researching on the internal transforms that lead to a downward spiraling while aging, scientists and researchers have observed a fall in the production of crucial hormones by the body. These hormones include estrogen, DHEA and testosterone and they have been the focus of many researches on the aging process. It has been observed that aging also lowers the production of antioxidants by the body.

These antioxidants are crucial to neutralize the free radicals that lead to several disorders. In order to balance the loss of such key elements in the body, people have been taking supplementary or additional hormones and antioxidants. Their sole aim in doing so is to refurbish their defensive intensities as during their youth days. While supplementing hormones and antioxidants is fine, researchers have now found that the body required refilling another cluster of compounds as we continue to age. And they are the methyl groups.

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It may be mentioned here that the methyl groups persuade a progression known as methylation. During this procedure a prospective hazardous amino acid homocysteine is changed to methionine - an amalgam that is useful for the body. During any age, high intensity of homocysteine in the blood has been related to enhanced hazards of heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, birth defects and many other ailments. Incidentally, barely a few amalgams can encourage the process of methylation and they include B vitamins, folic acid and vitamin B12 as well as trimethylglycine or the TMG. An important and useful byproduct released during the methylation process is an escalation in the intensity of SAMe, a metabolite or byproduct of metabolism that also reduces with enhancing age.

Researches have demonstrated that SAMe is necessary for the amalgamation of melatonin - an anti-aging hormone that controls the sleep/ wake succession in people. In addition, SAMe is also beneficial in shielding the DNA from metamorphosis that may perhaps lead to cancer. Furthermore, SAMe averts any injury to the secondary nerves owing to the absence of oxygen and has the potential to neutralize the detrimental homocysteine in the blood.

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Over the years, SAMe has also become popular as a remedy for effectual treatment of aches and pains that are linked with osteoarthritis and physicians consider SAMe as effectual an anti-inflammatory means as the ibuprofen. A study conducted by German researchers for over two years, 108 osteoporosis patients suffering from knee, hip and spine problems were administered 600 mg of SAMe every day. Interestingly, only in the second week of the treatment, the researchers observed that the patients experienced improvement in joint pains, particularly in morning inflexibility and soreness during rest and movements. Moreover, it was noted that only a few patients complained of minor side effects from the use of SAMe and none of them were significant enough to requiring additional treatment. Neither did the side effects owing to use of SAMe required stopping the original treatment.

Researches conducted by scientists in Europe recommend that SAMe may be useful in managing the joint pains and depressions related to fibromyalgia (a disorder causing aches and exhaustion). In fact fibromyalgia has been described as a strange physical problem that is distinguished by indefinite aches, pains and exhaustion. In fact, as of date fibromyalgia cannot be cured and as a result of this many people suffering from this disorder have turned to natural medications. These natural therapies comprise coenzyme-Q10 and grape seed as well as green tea extracts found in amalgamation or combination tablet form.

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It is possible that your physician will recommend SAMe for promoting as well as supporting your mood and emotional health. A number of people use SAMe in the form of a treatment for depression. There are some hints that people with Alzheimer's disease may find it beneficial. In addition, you may also recommend SAMe for people enduring joint pain, and mobility problems - its use is likely to bring comfort. SAMe is also used for treating osteoarthritis. SAMe is also recommended for people with particular liver problems, counting different types of cholestasis and cirrhosis. It may be mentioned here that there is some initial indication that SAMe may possibly be helpful in reducing lipids.

Who is likely to be deficient?

Usually, the liver produces SAMe from its precursor amino acid methionine that is present in copious amounts in nearly all diets. In order to synthesize SAMe, the presence of vitamin B12 and folic acid is essential and any deficit of these two vitamins leads to poor intensities of SAMe in our central nervous system (CNS). It has been found that people suffering from liver cirrhosis, Alzheimer's disease, heart ailments and depression usually have a poor concentration of SAMe in the bloodstream or their central nervous system.

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Safety concerns

Although SAMe is possibly safe for nearly all people, occasionally, its use may result in side effects like headache, vomiting, gas, constipation, diarrhea, dry mouth, sweating, nervousness, anorexia and mild insomnia. These conditions especially occur when it is taken in elevated amounts. Some people using SAMe, particularly those with depression, may also feel anxious.

However, since there is an absence of adequate information regarding the use of SAMe by pregnant women and nursing mothers, it is advisable that you should remain of the safer side and avoid using it in such conditions.

Using SAMe may also cause some severe side effects, for instance the depression of people suffering from bipolar disorder may be converted to mania. Similarly, use of SAMe may possibly result in further deterioration of the symptoms related to Parkinson's disease.

What is worse is that using SAMe may also possibly have an impact on the central nervous system. It may also delay surgery in some cases. In case you need to undergo any surgery it is advisable that you discontinue SAMe for no less than two weeks prior to the planned surgical treatment.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Do not take this combination:

SAMe should not be used in combination with specific medications. For instance, it may possibly have an effect on the neurotransmitter (chemical produced and released by the nerves in the brain to send signals to one another) called serotonin. In addition, dextromethorphan (brand name Robitussin DM and others) may also have an effect on serotonin. If you take SAMe in combination with dextromethorphan it may possibly result in the production of excessive serotonin and cause severe side effects, which may include problems related to the heart, anxiety and shivering. It is advisable that if you are already taking dextromethorphan, you should stay away from SAMe.

As aforementioned, taking SAMe augments the production as well as secretion of the neurotransmitter called serotonin. A number of medicines used for treating depression also result in excessive serotonin production. If you take SAMe in combination with any of these medicines it may result in excessive production of serotonin and result in severe side effects, which may include anxiety, problems related to the heart and shivering. Hence, avoid using SAMe if you are already taking any medicine for depression, for instance, amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), imipramine (Tofranil), sertraline (Zoloft) and others of the kind.

In addition, a group of medicines used for treating depression known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), too should not be used in combination with SAMe. Tranylcypromine (Parnate) and phenelzine (Nardil) are two MAOIs used for treating depression.

Be cautious with this combination:

For instance, physicians generally prescribe levodopa for treating Parkinson's disease and SAMe has the potential to alter levodopa chemically inside the body and, at the same time, diminish the efficacy of this medication. Therefore, if you are taking levodopa in conjunction with SAMe, it is possible that the symptoms of Parkinson's disease will deteriorate further. Hence, avoid taking SAMe provided you are already taking levodopa.

SAMe augments the production of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) and so does meperidine (brand name, Demerol) in the brain. Therefore, you should never take SAMe if you are already taking meperidine, as it may result in surplus serotonin and cause severe side effects, which may include anxiety, problems associated with the heart and shivering.

Like SAMe, another drug pentazocine (brand name, Talwin) also augments serotonin production and release. Taking this combination will lead to surplus serotonin in the brain and, thereby cause severe side effects like shivering, heart problems and anxiety. Hence, avoid taking SAMe provided you are already using pentazocine (Talwin). In addition, tramadol (brand name, Ultram) also has the aptitude to affect serotonin like SAMe. Taking these two in conjunction is likely to cause excessive serotonin and lead to severe side effects, counting stiff muscles, confusion, shuddering and others.

As SAMe augments serotonin production and secretion in the brain, using it in combination with other different herbal remedies and supplements that also enhance serotonin may possibly cause excessive amount of this brain chemical and lead to severe side effects like anxiety, heart problems and trembling. The herbal remedies and supplements that augment the level of serotonin comprise Hawaiian baby woodrose, St. John's wort, 5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan), and L-tryptophan.

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