SAM-e, S-adenosyl-L-methionine, is vital to the production of our body’s most important antioxidant, glutathione, as well as the secondary antioxidants, cysteine and taurine. It also enhances the antioxidant power of superoxide dismutase (SOD) These capabilities underscore SAM-e’s importance as aneuroprotectivecompound, given the extraordinarily high metabolic activity and energy-intensive demands of both brain cells and neurons.
SAM-e is made in the body from methionine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, and the energy-producing compound ATP, but we lose the ability to convert it as we age and in Parkinson’s. Our diets generally provide an insufficient dose of an unstable form of it. SAM-e is a physiologically essential compound,
I had previously not considered SAM-e for my joints which are stressed from Parkinson’s until Amazon sent me a packet of Jarrow’s SAM-e and glucosamine to review. Some time ago I’d read about a 1992 rat study where animals with induced Parkinson’s were made worse with it, but I hadn’t actually looked at the study until researching for this review. I found an interview with Dr. Richard Brown, whom I respect promoting SAM-e for the mental cognition, depression and stiff joints which can characterize PD. The rat study involved injecting an acid solution of SAM-e directly into their brains, which no one would do to people. At the time injectable SAM-e was all we had. We now have reasonably stable oral forms (even for rats!) Other of the 75 clinical trials with 35,000 patients on SAM-e confirm the benefits.
“In research reported in August, 2010, in the American Journal of Psychiatry, investigators from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital gave either SAMe or a placebo to 73 depressed adults who had not responded to prescribed antidepressant drugs; all continued to take the drugs. After six weeks of treatment, 36 percent of the subjects taking SAMe showed improvement, compared to just 18 percent of the placebo group. Moreover, 26 percent of those in the SAMe group had complete remission of symptoms, compared to just 12 percent in the placebo group. SAMe doesn’t work for everyone, but neither do antidepressant drugs.”
Dr. Brown points out that most Parkinson’s patients have very low SAM-e levels. Levodopa, the most common medication for Parkinson’s, depletes SAM-e and he recommends that it be taken
with levodopa or Sinemet (carbidopa levodopa) . In general, he explains that SAM-e is good for our liver, joints and cartilage as well as the depression that can affect 30% of Parkinson’s patients, so it is a
healthy supplement for most people to take. Side effects are minimal for most people including activation, nausea, mild anxiety and loose stools. The main contraindication is bipolar disease because it can enhance mania.
So what does SAM-e do? It is effective for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, tests better than NSAIDS for pain, is mod
erately effective for fibromyalgia, good for depression and anxiety, mental cognition and liver detoxification. It was discovered in Italy 4 decades ago. Although SAM-e has only been on the U.S. market since 1999, it has been studied for decades internationally and is approved as a prescription drug in Spain, Italy, Russia and Germany. More than 1 million Europeans have used it, primarily for depression and arthritis.
If you want to try SAMe, look for products that provide the butanedisulfonate form in enteric-coated tablets. The usual dosage is 400 to 1,600 milligrams a day for non-PD patients but Dr.Brown points out that people with Parkinson’s need higher doses. Take on an empty stomach. SAM-e can be taken at the same time as other medications including antidepressants.
Read an article in the Psychiatric Times that gives a broader view here.