Back Pain Treatment: SAM (S-adenosylmethionine)

SAM (S-adenosylmethionine , often called Sam-e, is a naturally occurring compound in the body. SAM, when taken as a supplement, has been shown to provide the same type of pain relief for back pain and arthritis without the negative side effects typically experienced from NSAIDs. Recently, SAM has found to be useful as an antidepressant, which may be an important bonus, since pain often causes and is worsened by depression.

In healthy individuals, SAM-e is produced by the body and plays important roles in body metabolism and functions. SAM is available in the US as a supplement today, but has been available in Europe for decades as a prescription drug. SAM is also known as its scientific name - S-adenosylmethionine, SAMe, and SAM-e. Some studies have found that SAM-e is just as beneficial as other non-narcotic drugs including NSAIDs and Celebrex/VIOXX, but has shown little or none of the GI tract problems or cardiovascular problems typically observed in patient using NAIDs as a long term treatment for arthritis and back pain. Sam-e taken longer to act that most NSAIDs, but has far fewer side effects.

SAM-e has also shown promise as an antidepressant, with fewer side effects compared to tricyclic antidepressants. Some of the latest studies have also demonstrated that SAM-e has been found to be effective in treating muscle aches associated with fibromyalgia and back pain associated with spinal cord damage. SAM-e may also help treat certain liver problems. SAM-e has shown promise in controlling a liver problem known as cholestasis, which is a buildup of bile in the liver. Patients with cholestasis, particularly pregnant women in their last trimester, have shown to have a reduction in their abnormally high liver bile levels after SAM a supplementation therapy. Preliminary studies done on people with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) have shown symptom improvements after taking this supplement. SAM has shown to be effective in treating a myriad of other medical problems and diseases, including diseases associated with chronic pain, the visceral organs, and brain functioning. Sam-e, when introduced to the body through supplements, has shown promise in treating bursitis, migraines, back pain, chronic pain, Alzheimer's disease, and liver disease.

How much SAMe should you take?
The FDA has not evaluated this product using the rigorous testing procedures used to approve pharmaceutical medications. There is no established ideal dose of SAM for pain or other medical problems. For osteoarthritis and back pain, 600-1,200 milligrams, split up into three doses, is a common daily dosage. For patients with depression, 400-1,600 milligrams, split up into three doses, is a common daily dosage. Ask your primary care doctor or someone who has experience in evaluating this product, what dose you should try taking to receive maximum but safe benefits.

What foods can I eat or drink to get natural sources of Sam-e? There are no plant or animal food sources of SAM.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with SAM-e?
SAM-e, while considered a very safe supplement, has triggered allergic responses in a small percentage of people. Some adverse reactions include skin rashes, anxiety, dizziness, headache, dry mouth, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach, and gas.