2265 North Clybourn Avenue    Chicago, IL 60614    P: 773.296.6700     F: 773.296.1131

SAMe for Depression and Arthritis

SAMe (pronounced “sammy”) is the abbreviation for a molecule already made by your body, S-adenosylmethionine. Some good clinical studies have shown that SAMe supplements are effective for three seemingly unrelated conditions: depression, arthritis, and liver disease.

SAMe became the hot new supplement a few years ago when it was favorably reviewed as a potential alternative to both conventional antidepressants and the NSAID (aspirin-like) family of pain medications for arthritis. It’s quite safe and free of side effects, works quickly, and can be used in combination with other medications and supplements.

The major downside to SAMe is the price, which at the doses recommended costs about $60 a month. But if you’re reluctant to use a conventional prescription antidepressant, SAMe might be very helpful for you because it is effective.

How it works

Many metabolic processes throughout the body require the presence of a molecular structure called a methyl group in a chemical reaction called transmethylation. This methyl group contributes to the manufacture of a long list of hormones, neurotransmitters, and proteins.

Conventional antidepressants and the herb St. John’s wort raise levels of serotonin (and other neurotransmitters) by blocking the recycling mechanism in which “used” serotonin is returned to brain cells, thus leaving more active serotonin to keep mood up.

By comparison, SAMe simply helps the brain make more serotonin by speeding  up the manufacturing process of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.  It’s this effect on boosting neurotransmitters that’s prompted SAMe research into depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Regarding SAMe’s role in arthritis and liver disease: SAMe is a natural anti-inflammatory, a nutrient that helps restore the capacity of the liver to detoxify, and an essential molecule in cartilage growth and repair.

What it’s used for

Based on good clinical trials, European physicians regularly prescribe SAMe for both depression and osteoarthritis pain. In my own practice, I mainly use SAMe (along with St. John’s wort and 5HTP) for mild to moderate depression and other Triple Whammy disorders like anxiety, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. I also recommend SAMe for arthritis in combination with such natural products as glucosamine sulfate, chondroitin sulfate, and turmeric.

What to buy

You need to look for coated tablets (sometimes called enteric tablets) because SAMe is a delicate molecule that can be destroyed by stomach acid. Read the label carefully. There are two forms of SAMe: tosylate and butanedisulfonate. It’s the second of these you want because it contains more active SAMe and has a longer shelf life. SAMe comes in 200-mg and 400-mg tablets. Since most studies using SAMe were in the range of 800 mg to 1,200 mg per day, you’ll save considerable money by purchasing the 400-mg tablets

How to take it

You must take SAMe on an empty stomach for best absorption. This means taking it either one hour before a meal or two hours afterward. I suggest you take two 400-mg doses daily, one immediately on waking and the second midway between lunch and dinner. This is the dose for treating depression and arthritis, and for liver detoxification. Don’t take SAMe in the evening as it may interfere with sleep.

Side effects?

Generally SAMe is very well tolerated. The most common reported side effects are with high doses—more than 1,200 mg—and include mild upset stomach, gas, and bloating. Like other antidepressants, if SAMe is taken by a person with bipolar disorder, it may trigger agitation and a hypomanic state.

Reasons not to take

SAMe can be safely used with other natural treatments for depression, like St. John’s wort and 5HTP. However, high doses of SAMe (more than 1,600 mg per day) when combined with high doses of prescription SSRI antidepressants may result in too much serotonin. Symptoms of this so-called serotonin syndrome include anxiety, agitation, and tremors.

We carry SAMe in our natural apothecary, and you can review it by clicking here.

Posted in A, Blog, D, Knowledge Base, S

In Archive

Quick Connect

Get One Click Access to our


The Knowledge Base


Patient education is an integral part of our practice. Here you will find a comprehensive collection of staff articles, descriptions of therapies and nutritional supplements, information addressing your health concerns, and the latest research on nutritional supplements and alternative therapies.

Join our Newsletter

Get health recommendations, delicious and time-saving recipes, medical news, supplement reviews, birthday discounts, and more!


Upcoming Workshops

The Next Lyme Academy Begins
Tuesday, October 4, 5:30-7 pm
Here’s a special invitation for patients of Dr. Kelley who are currently being treated for Lyme disease. Dr. Kelley’s new, four-week Lyme Academy starts on October 4, continuing over the following three Tuesdays.


Awakened Body, Quiet Mind
An innovative workshop series for relieving mind/body stress and tapping into your true power and natural health.
4 Group Sessions with Meghan Roekle, PsyD
Four meetings using a unique combination of embodiment meditation and mental inquiry for deep healing.
Thursdays from 6:00-8:00pm; beginning October 20th

Recent Health Tips

  • Tired All The Time? Useful Info and Two Supplements

    Tired All The Time? Useful Info and Two Supplements

    As you might expect, fatigue is a fairly common reason people visit doctors. Feeling tired is vague symptom and can be linked to dozens of possible diagnoses, plus there’s a need to differentiate between physical fatigue and mental fatigue (brain fog) or consider both. When …Read More »
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

    I’d been reading Ally Hilfiger’s new autobiography Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy, and Almost Killed Me, preferring the Lyme parts to those devoted to fashion and her MTV “Rich Girl” series. Her symptoms were typical of chronic Lyme and …Read More »

October Sale: 20% Off Urban Moonshine Products


All Urban Moonshine products are 20% off for the entire month of October!

Urban Moonshine creates beautiful herbal formulas that focus on prevention, improving quality of life, and empowering people to create home herbal apothecaries.  More>>