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SAM-e: An effective treatment for depression?   

Part #1  

SAM-e: Does the research say it is an effective treatment for depression? 

SAM-e treatment for depressionSAM-e is an over-the-counter dietary supplement researched both in the United States and abroad for several decades and has been found to be an effective treatment for depression as well as for several other conditions including osteoarthritis and liver disease, by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. SAM-e’s effectiveness has been demonstrated in well over 100 published studies comparing its efficacy with a placebo, and has been found in some cases to compare favorably with the results of some antidepressant medications.  However, research continues in providing a better understanding of the risk/benefit ratio between medical treatments and SAM-e. 


SAM-e: What is it and what conditions has it been found to effectively treat? 

SAM-e is short for S-Adenosylmethionine, which is a metabolite of methionine, which is an amino acid found in high-protein food. When researched as a treatment for depression, SAM-e has had favorable results when compared to a placebo (a fake look-alike pill).  Also, in placebo-controlled trials for osteoarthritis pain comparing SAM-e with a placebo or with a nonprescription painkiller, it has been found to be more effective than the placebo and comparable to painkillers within a drug class called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which includes aspirin, naproxen (Aleve), indomethacin (Indocin) and ibuprofen (Advil). Also, certain types of liver disease have been shown to be helped through the use of SAM-e. Although SAM-e has only been on the U.S. market since 1999, it is been studied and utilized internationally for several decades and was approved as a prescription drug in Spain, Italy, Russia and Germany many years ago.  More than one million Europeans have used it during that period of time for arthritis and as a treatment for depression. 

SAM-e and Dr. Richard P. Brown: 

SAM-e has been used to treat an estimated 400 patients by Richard P. Brown M.D. associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for well over a decade, many of whom were previously treatment-resistant. He stated that "I first heard about SAM-e 20 years ago when I was doing my residency in psychiatry at New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center,". He then recalled "At a meeting of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, a colleague had learned about an exciting new antidepressant being studied in Europe that was non-toxic, without side effects, and worked better and faster than traditional medications." 

Fifteen years later, after Brown had developed a subspecialty practice treating patients resistant to conventional medications by integrating alternative approaches such as nutrients and herbs with prescription medications; Brown was introduced to information by a patient taken from the Internet. According to Brown, although SAM-e was discovered in Italy over four decades ago it has now been evaluated for various disorders in ”more than 75 clinical trials involving over 23,000 people”. Brown added that although SAM-e has been used for over four decades, it was not researched in clinical studies for the treatment for depression until the 1970s. 

Next Week-Part 2: Review of SAM-e research  

By Paul Susic MA Licensed Psychologist Ph.D Candidate 

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