SAMe and Neurotransmitter Depletion

I recently had a client ask me whether or not she should take S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) as a trich treatment. SAMe is a sulfur amino acid that functions as a one carbon methyl donor in chemical reactions. I knew that SAM-e was often recommended for depression but I hadn’t heard of it in regards to trich.

A literature search provided some unexpected results. Several research articles showed that long term use of SAMe causes depletion of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which can exacerbate symptoms of depression (and presumably other disorders related to neurotransmitter imbalance) over time. One of the studies even found that this depletion led to the development of Parkinson’s-like disease symptoms.

These are very interesting observations, as it appears that although SAMe is often recommended for symptoms of depression and other disorders relating to imbalanced neurotransmitter levels, long term use depletes the very neurotransmitters that are implicated with those diseases.

I obviously told my client that I would not advise that she use SAMe as a trich treatment. However, that if she chose to use it, she would need to take additional amino acid precursors at the same time in order to prevent further depletion of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. This meant more pills and more money; she gratefully declined.

 

Sources:

1)      Striatal dopamine depletion, tremors, and hypokinesia following the intracranial injection of S-adenosylmethionine: a possible role of hypermethylation in parkinsonism. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8748929

2)      Depletion of nigrostriatal and forebrain tyrosine hydroxylase by S-adenosylmethionine: a model that may explain the occurrence of depression in Parkinson’s disease. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9247319

3)      Parkinson’s disease-like effects of S-adenosyl-L-methionine: effects of L-dopa. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1359575

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