Health23 Sep 2009 04:28 pm
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Health, is coming to stores on October 16! (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As well as continuing to expand on posts from the General Edition, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from the Modern Culture devotional. Today’s entry on “SAM” is from the “Drugs and Alternative Treatments” section of the Health edition.
SAM is the synthetic form of a compound that is naturally produced by the body by the liver and is an integral factor in methylation, a chemical process essential to many chemical processes in the body, including the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. In the United States, SAM is widely available as a nutritional supplement, and is sold under the names SAM-e, SAME or SAMe (all pronounced “Sammy”). Many clinical trials have indicated that SAM helps fight depression, arthritis and liver disease, and it has been prescribed for depression in Europe for over two decades (it purportedly outsells Prozac in Italy). Additionally, several studies have indicated that natural SAM levels are markedly lower in individuals who suffer from chronic depression. However, scientists still do not know exactly how the nutritional supplement affects brain functioning. So far, the most promising theories suggest that SAM either slows down the breakdown of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, or that it speeds production of the receptors that receive these neurotransmitters, which allows them to work more effectively.
The popularity of SAM supplements exploded in the mid-1990s, after the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act was passed in 1994. Under this law, SAM was classified as a dietary supplement, which allowed it to bypass rigorous and time-consuming FDA regulations that are required for all “drugs”. The fact that SAM is not FDA-regulated has not gone unnoticed within the medical community, and many scientists have expressed concerns that the supplement has not been sufficiently tested for both short and long-term side effect. The most commonly reported side effects of SAM are upset stomach, skin rash, lowered blood sugar, dry mouth, bloody stool, excessive thirst, increased urination, headache, hyperactivity, anxiety and insomnia. People suffering from bipolar disorder should not take SAM-e unless indicated by their doctor under any circumstances, as it has been associated with inducing bouts of hypomania and mania in individuals with the condition.
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