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CFS/FM Specialist Dr. Richard Podell on SAMe: The Body's Mood Balancer

  [ 11 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Richard Podell, MD, MPH • • February 8, 2012

Dr. Podell is a clinical professor at New Jersey's Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He has special interests in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia, stress related disorders, and clinical nutrition, and has offices in Springfield and Somerset New Jersey. This information is reproduced with kind permission from Dr. Podell's Facebook page ©2012. For more information please see his educational website,


Fighting Depression: S-Adenosyl Methionine [SAMe],
an effective natural “alternative medicine” treatment

Many persons with depression continue to be depressed despite partial improvement with standard anti-depressant medicine such as Prozac. Others remain depressed because side effects prevent their using these drugs.
S-Adenoslyl Methionine, (called SAMe, as in Sammy) is a natural amino acid with more than ten double blind studies showing benefit for depression. Because several of these studies were not well-designed and because most were not done in the USA, U.S. physicians have remained skeptical about using SAMe as a treatment for depression.
Now, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have added proof to SAMe’s case. Their subjects were 73 persons who had remained depressed despite their continuing on standard Prozac-like anti-depressants. Their drug treatment was continued, and half the group also added SAME (working up to 1600 mg daily). The others added a placebo.

• Using the standard Hamilton depression scale to score symptoms, over the next six weeks, 25.8% of persons taking placebo improved. With the SAMe the improvement rate was 36.1%, a statistically significant difference.

• Side effects and drop-outs were less frequent among persons taking SAMe compared to placebo.

• Patients taking SAMe also improved their ability to recall information. This cognitive benefit was independent of whether SAMe helped the depression. (Question: Might SAMe’s cognitive benefit help “fibro-fog”?)

Comments:  SAMe improved outcomes for a difficult group of depressed patients. This research adds further proof that SAMe is an effective natural “alternative medicine” depression treatment. [As Dr. Podell defines it, a treatment that "maximizes support for the body's natural healing systems."]

That only a modest number of patients improved despite adding SAMe to drug treatment shows us we still have a way to go in understanding depression.
SAMe - like most anti-depressants - has the potential to trigger “manic phase” among some persons with bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder. Definitely take SAMe with medical supervision…
Two research abstracts about SAMe that you and your physicians might view:

“S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial,” American Journal of Psychiatry, Aug 2010 (Full text article.)

“Effects of S-adenosylmethionine augmentation of serotonin-reuptake inhibitor antidepressants on cognitive symptoms of major depressive disorderEuropean Psychiatry, Jun 10, 2011.
- Richard N. Podell, MD, June 30, 2011

Note: This information is reproduced with kind permission from Dr. Richard Podell’s Facebook page ©Richard Podell, 2012. It has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Podell; is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease; and is not intended to replace a  one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.

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