In my last post, I began our discussion of treating depression with natural supplements with many warnings. I am going to stress some of those warnings again. When you buy vitamins, herbs, and supplements, just because they are "natural" does not mean they won't have any side effects or interactions with other medications and supplements. Natural remedies are also not regulated by the FDA. There could be unknown fillers or the brand of supplement you buy may not have enough of the active ingredient to be effective.
Know the risks you are taking by using natural supplements. Please do your research and also always tell your doctor everything you are taking including herbal or vitamin products.
I have talked about SAM-e at length in a previous post but I am going to add on a few additional bits of information to round out that discussion. And then I am going to tell you my findings about 5-HTP. In subsequent posts I will talk about other supplements.
About SAM-e: You can find my past article about this substance here. SAM-e is a dietary supplement (pronounced "sammy"), used to treat depression, arthritis, and some liver disorders. I have been taking it for well over a year now and I feel that it has been very effective in decreasing my episodes of depression.
Here are some additional things you should know about SAM-e:
- I do not know if SAM-e would be effective for all types of depression. I believe it is mostly effective for those suffering from an on-going mild to moderate type of depression.
- Buy SAM-e from a reputable company. I purchase mine from Whole Foods and use their brand. Make sure the tablets are enteric-coated and store them in a cool dry place.
- Take the minimum dosage and see how it works for you and then increase the dosage as needed. I began by taking 200 mg and now I take 400 mg. This is an effective dose for me but studies show that most people need 800-1600 mg for it to make a difference in treating their depression.
- The main side effect I had personally experienced was stomach upset. Take SAM-e on an empty stomach. The literature states that other side effects may include greater anxiety, sleeplessness, and or feeling dizzy. Here is a web site which lists some of the possible side effects of taking SAM-e.
- Don't stop taking your anti-depressant in order to take SAM-e without a thorough discussion with your doctor. Do not take SAM-e in addition to your anti-depressant. You need to ask your doctor about possible drug interactions. Here is a list of the possible interactions with SAM-e.
- Some of the literature warns that you should not take SAM-e if you have Bipolar Disorder (it could kick you into mania) or Parkinson's disease.
- There is some confusion out there about whether or not SAM-e will decrease or increase homocysteine levels in your body. Why be concerned about this? Homocysteine is a derivative of the amino acid methionine and may contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) by producing irritation and inflammation in the inner lining of arteries. So the worry is whether or not SAM-e could contribute to heart problems.