Restless Legs Syndrome and SAM-e

What is SAM-e and how does it help RLS?


SAM-e is short for S-adenosylmethionine.  It is an amino acid and is manufactured in the brain from another amino acid, methionine.  SAM-e is the most active methyl-donor in your body, meaning it donates methyl groups to other chemical compounds in your body including neurotransmitters, changing them into other compounds. 

Here are some more links and descriptions:

RLS Gene - The gene thought to be responsible for Primary RLS   (No longer a valid link)
"Many experts believe that many with RLS and/or PLMD have too little dopamine and/or lack the ability to produce it"
"dopamine:  A monoamine neurotransmitter formed in the brain by the decarboxylation of dopa and essential to the normal functioning of the central nervous system. A reduction in its concentration within the brain is associated with Parkinson's disease."
"studies have shown that SAM-e influences brain chemicals by helping to convert norepinephrine to epinephrine and serotonin to melatonin, helping make creatine, an important energy reservoir in muscle tissue, and helping the preservation of glutathione, an important antioxidant. Furthermore, SAM-e is involved in the formation of myelin, the white sheath that surrounds nerve cells and can improve the brain cell membrane fluidity, thus potentially enhancing the function of receptors"
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) influences nerve-cell communication by increasing the activity of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. SAM-e also methylates phospholipids, which facilitate nerve-cell communication by maintaining the integrity of cell-wall structure and the fluidity of cell membranes"

You can find many others using Google's search engine:

From the information I've found, I personally draw the following conclusions/assumptions: 

  1. The defective RLS gene likely causes problems with the production and/or the transmission/reception of the neurotransmitter dopamine.  I think the defect in the RLS gene causes the cells that are responsible for regulating iron and other minerals to the nerve cells to not do their job correctly.  In other words, the nerve cells are not getting what they need because the "regulating cells" (my phrase, not a medical term) think that all is well with the nerve cells, when in fact, they are extremely deficient.  Luckily, RLS only keeps them deficient; unlike other neurological diseases that starve them eventually to death.  (Yes, we actually could have it worse!)

  2. Lacking dopamine, nerve cells are unable to transmit the correct signals to the brain. 

  3. The brain "senses" the maddening sensations in the legs even though there is nothing at all wrong with the legs themselves. 

  4. SAM-e, when supported with B6, B12 and Folic Acid, and needed minerals, improves the function of the receptors by helping with the production and/or transmission/reception of the needed dopamine and improving the overall health of the nerve cells. 



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