SAM-e is short for S-adenosylmethionine. It occurs in the cells of plants, animals, and humans. Because the body produces less SAM-e with age, some people think that having more of it may be helpful for certain diseases. SAM-e is not an herb. It's sold as a dietary supplement.
Some people use SAM-e to improve the symptoms of depression. It may help with these symptoms in the short term, but more studies are needed. SAM-e may also help some people with osteoarthritis pain.
Not all herbs and supplements are safe. If you aren't sure about the safety of a supplement or herb, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or dietitian.
Always tell your doctor if you are using a dietary supplement or if you're thinking about combining a supplement with your standard medical treatment. It may not be safe to stop your medical treatment and rely only on a supplement. This is even more important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When using dietary supplements, keep these things in mind:
- They may cause side effects or trigger allergic reactions. They can also interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines or other supplements you might be taking. A side effect or interaction may make other health conditions worse.
- The way supplements are made may not be standardized. Because of this, how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form of supplement that you buy in a store may not be the same as the form used in research.
- Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most supplements aren't known.
Current as of: March 17, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine