Save the Day
Mild depression can be successfully treated with alternative therapies such as St. John’s Wort and folic acid.
But what about major depression? For a condition like that, you’re going to have to forget supplements and rely on powerful drug therapy, right?
New evidence shows that when drugs fail, that’s when SAMe can really save the day.
Raw nutrient for a hungry brain
Brain chemistry imbalance is a common cause of depression. And as HSI Medical Adviser Dr. Martin Milner noted in an HSI Members Alert back in 2004, that balance can often be restored with the basic raw nutrients your brain needs.
Most of the nutrients Dr. Milner commonly recommends for depression will be familiar to HSI members: omega-3, vitamins B-6 and C, evening primrose oil or flaxseed, 5-HTP (the precursor material the brain uses to make serotonin), and S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine, which is SAMe.
Prior research suggests that SAMe may relieve depression just as well as powerful antidepressant drugs. So researchers at Harvard School of Medicine mounted a study to test SAMe in more than 70 patients with major depressive disorder.
All subjects had been unsuccessfully treated with serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) drugs.
For six weeks, half the group took 1,600 mg of SAMe daily, and half took a placebo. All subjects continued to use whatever medications they were taking at the outset of the study.
Response and remission rates were twice as high in the SAMe group compared to placebo.
Subjects in the SAMe group had no serious side effects, but I should note that when SAMe is taken in high doses (and 1,600 mg per day is very high), some people may experience insomnia, nausea, or restlessness.
Dosages of less than 400 mg daily are generally well tolerated and have been shown to help many people feel more energetic, alert and focused.
SAMe is a difficult supplement to produce, so it tends to be fairly expensive compared to most dietary supplements. But your body produces SAMe naturally – especially when you have an ample daily intake of folate and vitamin B-12.
Dr. Milner recommends a formula called SAMe Plus, which combines SAMe with folic acid, B-12, niacin, and choline. You can find SAMe Plus (made by Karuna) through various Internet sources.
To Your Good Health,
“S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe) Augmentation of Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors for Antidepressant Nonresponders With Major Depressive Disorder: A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial” American Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 167, No. 8, August 2010, ajp.psychiatryonline.org
“Panelist Protocol: Putting Nature’s time-tested depression fighters into practice” HSI Members Alert, 9/1/04, hsibaltimore.com