MANY SUBSTANCES naturally present in the human body are being discovered and found to have healing properties.
Linus Pauling, the double Nobel Prize winner, coined the phrase 'Orthomolecular Medicines' to describe these amazing substances. One such compound is called SAMe, the scientific name for S-adenosylmethionine.
This substance is found in every cell in our bodies and, on average, humans produce six to eight grams of SAMe daily. It takes part in several biological reactions in the human body, including balancing brain function, joint cartilage repair, liver detoxification, and cell-membrane activity. Technically, SAMe is a methyl donor performing an important chemical function in the body called methylation.
SAMe cannot be obtained directly from the diet, so it is important to eat foods that supply the nutrients that the body uses in making SAMe. This includes dark green leafy vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
SAMe and depression
Among its many functions, SAMe is essential for the manufacture of substances called neurotransmitters that are vital for the healthy functioning of the brain. Specifically, SAMe may enhance the production and impact of the mood-boosting messengers in the brain - serotonin and dopamine. An imbalance in these substances is now known to be a major factor in depression. Since the 1990s, more than 40 medical trials have been conducted using SAMe in the treatment of depression.
The overwhelming consensus of these studies is that SAMe is at least as good as, and probably better than, many antidepressant drugs in treating depressive illness. Study after study confirmed that SAMe is not only effective, but also remarkably non-toxic with few side effects. It is fast-acting and well-tolerated, even by the elderly or the mentally disturbed.
Other uses for SAMe
SAMe is also useful in treating osteoarthritis, liver disease, alcoholism, menopausal symptoms, fibromyalgia, senile dementia, and early Alzheimer's disease. These widespread benefits are related to its effect in improving cellular metabolism and detoxification.
How to Use SAMe
This incredible substance is a non-prescription item that is available in tablet form from health-food stores and pharmacies. The customary dosage for SAMe is 400mg to 1200mg daily. One can start with 200mg twice daily, and increase up to 400mg three times daily, if necessary. You should not alter or stop any medication prescribed by your doctor without consulting him or her. SAMe is not known to negatively interact with prescription medicines, but often makes antidepressant drugs work better. Benefits are often experienced after a week, but optimal results manifest themselves after two weeks of treatment. It may cause slight nausea in some persons and is best taken with a light carbohydrate snack like fruit. It is not recommended for persons with a particular mental illness called bipolar disorder or manic depression.
Personally, I have been very impressed with the response of my own patients to this safe, natural substance, particularly when used in conjunction with healthy lifestyle practices like proper nutrition, exercise and stress management. SAMe is yet another demonstration of the healing power of the body's natural pharmacy.
You may email Dr Tony Vendryes at email@example.com or listen to 'An Ounce of Prevention' on POWER 106FM on Fridays at 8 p.m. His new book 'An Ounce of Prevention, Especially for Women' is available locally and on the Internet.