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Does SAM-e help osteoarthritis?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), referred to affectionately as Sammy, has been purported to help a wide variety of health problems, including depression, pain, and inflammation from osteoarthritis. SAM-e seems to work as well as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, but without the nasty side effects like stomach bleeding. The bad news is, there is no optimal dose yet and it takes about twice as long as NSAIDs to kick in. Most people need to take SAM-e for about a month before they feel relief.

One really big warning, though: SAM-e affects the brain chemical serotonin. So do certain antidepressants such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), amitriptyline (Elavil), clomipramine (Anafranil), and imipramine (Tofranil), as well as cough medicines that contain dextromethorphan (designated by a DM). So you definitely should not take SAM-e if you also take any of these drugs.

Bottom line: Talk to your doctor before you start taking any supplement.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.