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Treatment Overview

SAM-e is short for S-adenosylmethionine. It occurs in the cells of plants, animals, and humans. Because the body produces less SAM-e with age, some people think that having more of it may be helpful for certain diseases. SAM-e is not an herb. It's sold as a natural health product.

Why It Is Used

Some people use SAM-e to improve the symptoms of depression. It may help with these symptoms in the short term, but more studies are needed. SAM-e may also help some people with osteoarthritis pain.


Not all natural health products are safe. If you are unsure about the safety of a natural health product, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or dietitian.

Always tell your doctor if you are using a natural health product or if you are thinking about combining a natural health product with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on a natural health product. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

When using natural health products, keep in mind the following.

  • They may cause side effects or trigger allergic reactions. They can also interact with prescription and non-prescription medicines or other natural health products you might be taking. A side effect or interaction may make other health conditions worse.
  • Natural health products may not be standardized in their manufacturing. This means that how well they work or any side effects they cause may differ among brands or even within different lots of the same brand. The form you buy in health food or grocery stores may not be the same as the form used in research.
  • Other than for vitamins and minerals, the long-term effects of most natural health products aren't known.


Current as of:
March 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine