April 8, 2004
SAMe The Natural Antidepressant
In my experience, I’ve found that most depressed
women have low levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and
serotonin. Fortunately, nutritional therapies can be very helpful
for the millions of women with mild to moderate depression, and
I’d like to tell you about one of my favoritesSAMe.
SAMe is produced by combining the amino acid methionine
with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your body’s active, readily available
form of energy. This conversion takes place within the brain in
the presence of vitamin B12 and folic acid. It works at the cellular
level to facilitate a variety of biochemical reactions that in turn
produce various substances that are crucial to body functions, such
as neurotransmitters and proteins.
SAMe has been shown to be a potent antidepressant,
increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, improving binding of
neurotransmitters to receptor sites, and often leading to significant
clinical improvement in mood. In fact, in 7 of 8 studies since the
1980s, SAMe has proven more effective than placebo for the treatment
of depression. Even more impressive is how well SAMe works when
compared to prescription antidepressants. One study published in
2000 tested the benefits of SAMe in 11 depressed patients with Parkinson’s
disease who had either not benefited from antidepressants or endured
intolerable side effects. The patients were given 800 to 3,600 mg
of SAMe a day for 10 weeks. Ten of the patients experienced at least
50 percent improvement, while just one patient did not improve.
Plus, researchers found that SAMe was very well tolerated, with
only three patients experiencing either mild nausea mild diarrhea.
A similar study from a 2002 issue of the American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that SAMe was as effective
as the antidepressant imipramine, but was better tolerated. Researchers
conducted two multicenter studies with patients who had major depression.
In the first study, patients were given either 1,600 mg of SAMe
orally or 150 mg of the imipramine over a 6 week period of time.
In the second study, patients were either injected with 400 mg of
SAMe or received 150 mg of the imipramine over 4 weeks. In both
studies, the SAMe was shown to be as effective as the antidepressant
for treatment of depression. However, the SAMe had significantly
fewer adverse side effects.
If you are interested in using SAMe, I recommend
taking 1,600 mg a day, in four divided doses, along with 50 to 250
mcg of B12 and 400 to 800 mcg folic acid per day to ensure optimal
conversion. An added benefit is that the B vitamins themselves
have been shown to have powerful antidepressant effects on your
Note: SAMe is very expensiveranging
from $1.00 to $2.00 for a 200 mg capsule. Luckily, as your depressive
symptoms decrease, you can begin to reduce your dosage accordingly,
moving to 1,200 mg, then to 800 mg, and so on to a maintenance dose
that works best for you.
While I recognize the price is a bit costly, I
believe that a safe, nutritional therapy that can actually help
to normalize your brain chemistry and reduce your tendency towards
depression is well-worth the investment.
Read More on Depression:
Quiz: How Balanced are Your Neurotransmitters?
Keep it SIMPLE tip Secret Weapon Against
Neurotransmitters Are Derived From Nutrients
in Your Diet
SAMe – the Natural Antidepressant
Depression Release Breathing Exercise
Yoga Pose for Depression Relief
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