About SAMe, TMG, DMG and the Liver

Lynni: Hi Susan, I always enjoy your posts. Sage advice. I’m wondering about a post where you said SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) and TMG (tri-methyl-glycine) are the same thing? Maybe you can illuminate? The good news I do know about SAMe is that it stimulates the synthesis of proteoglycans which are building blocks of joint cartilage and it also has anti-depressant qualities. I think someone may have said this on the forum before, but the quality and way SAMe is handled is real important. Specially sealed capsules and refrigeration is best.

Polly: TMG helps the body make SAMe. Since TMG is a much cheaper supplement, it is worth trying first.

Susan in Olympia: Hi Lynni! I think Polly just explained the difference here. That is as much as I know as well. I took SAMe from June to the middle of December with excellent results. I believe SAMe has helped me in all of the areas it is touted for: joint health, depression, and liver health. After about a week of taking nothing… and seeing the depression come slogging back into my consciousness, I tried TMG. I have been taking TMG for about 2 weeks now. Since trying the TMG I’m happy again, and my joints feel good… so I guess it is working for me! SAMe is about a dollar a pill around here… whereas I got a large bottle of TMG (maybe 200 pills?) for $12.95. Good luck!

Pamela: What is TMG? I don’t think I have heard of this before. Thanks

Polly: TMG stands for tri-methyl-glycine. Some of its properties seem to relate to its ability to increase SAMe (S-Adenosyl-Methionine) levels, and some of its properties seem to relate to methylation and its ability to convert into glycine and DMG (di-methyl-glycine). You will find a lot of information about TMG, DMG and glycine in Dr. Eric Braverman’s book on amino acids. Here are a few properties of TMG that I find interesting.

1) Improved Liver Function: One of my doctors likes to use TMG for his patients that have liver problems. According to him, one of TMG’s biggest advantages is that it greatly increases the production of SAMe. The liver needs SAMe to perform many of its detoxification functions. Another benefit for the liver is the lipotropic nature of TMG — it helps get rid of fat deposits in the liver. Another benefit is TMG’s ability to increase bile salts and bile production by the liver. Bile emulsifies fat so it can be absorbed and bile carries toxins out of the liver into the intestines for disposal.

2) Improved Mood: The first time I took TMG, I noticed a definite improvement in mood, possibly because of the increase in SAMe levels. However, there is a possibility that large doses of TMG could have an opposite effect and cause depression. This has been observed with DMG, which is created from TMG. (See page 305 of Braverman’s book on amino acids where he is talking about 3 grams of DMG.) Also he says that large doses of SAMe have been a problem with bi-polar depression. This might have something to do with the increased methylation. Please be aware of another potential problem with SAMe. SAMe, DMG and TMG must be kept in balance with folic acid and B12.

3) Enhanced Nerve Function: When I take TMG, I notice a definite improvement in my handwriting. (I didn’t notice a thing from plain glycine.) Someone at this forum found TMG helpful for her carpal tunnel syndrome. These effects might be related to TMG’s ability to increase SAMe because SAMe supports normal neural function. SAMe also helps convert CoA into acetylcholine, which is required for nerve transmissions. See http://www.megson.com.

4) A Source Of Methyl Groups: TMG acts as a source of methyl groups. Methyl groups are needed for the proper formation and function of many things like vitamins, hormones, enzymes, and neurotransmitters such as epinephrine. The methyl groups are also needed for RNA production for protein synthesis. Methylation is often inhibited by mercury poisoning. [13] Here are a few notes I took from a tape on methylation that I viewed at my doctor’s office: A methyl group is a carbon and three hydrogen atoms. Choline, TMG, and DMG have methyl groups. Folate helps make methyl groups, and B12 transfers methyl groups. SAMe is the body’s actual methyl donor. Methylation prevents DNA breakdown.

5) Reduces homocysteine levels: TMG helps lower homocysteine levels by providing a methyl group needed to convert homocysteine back into the sulfur amino acid methionine. High homocysteine levels are associated with heart disease and the birth defect spinal bifida. When B12, folic acid and B6 prove inadequate to lowering homocysteine levels, the addition of TMG often brings the homocysteine levels down. Yet, don’t think SAMe will have the same effect on homocysteine. A supplement of SAMe without these other factors present could actually increase homocysteine.

Pamela: Thanks Polly. Very informative! So where do you find TMG, in a supplement or tincture or food?

Polly: TMG can be found in beets and/or you can purchase it as a supplement. DMG is in apricot kernels and/or you can purchase it as a supplement. In its pure form, TMG will very quickly gather water from the air if you leave it exposed. My doctor has his supply of it coated so this doesn’t happen. I’ve been using this most of the time. However, one time, when I ran out, I bought a bottle of TMG pills and boy was I disappointed. The pills were 90% chalky filler. Jarrow offers a supplement of TMG powder at a good price. The product has been compressed or changed in some way from the pure TMG that I’m familiar with. The Jarrow product doesn’t draw water from the air like the usual TMG powder. They have a scoop in the jar for measuring out a serving of 650 mg. If you haven’t used TMG before, start with half this amount. Later you can go up to more. My doctor has some people using as much as a teaspoon each day. If necessary, you can get a hypoallergenic TMG and DMG from Kirkman Labs. http://www.kirkmanlabs.com

As with all supplements, even the most seemingly benign, please be careful. Just because a little is good, it doesn’t mean a lot is beneficial. There are people who cannot tolerate extra methyl groups. Marilyn here at the forum is sensitive to these, and she thinks it has something to do with inadequate sulfur and her mercury toxicity. A little while ago, Dana B alerted the people here at the forum to another problem with TMG. You should probably hold off on TMG supplementation if you have Klebsiella bacteria overgrowth. TMG protects this bacteria from osmotic stress. (eg If you add salt to the growing medium, the bacteria will not grow very well. The salt dehydrates them. But if you add TMG to this salty growing medium, the Klebsiella is able to protect itself from the salt and will be able to grow.) [14]

Glycine is known to protect plants from osmotic stress, and so this protective effect of TMG and glycine might apply to many other microorganisms besides Klebsiella. Glycine seems to stimulate the growth of yeast in some people, according to this article, http://www.food-allergy.org/root3.html. I would assume that it might depend on which strains of yeast that are present and their form. Glycine may also promote a change in form of some yeasts. [15]

Lynn of Virginia: This may explain why TMG gives me big asthma attacks!

Orla: Thanks for the info, Polly. Is there a recommended duration for taking this supplement that you shouldn’t exceed or how do you know when to stop? Is there a point when your liver functions well again?

Polly: Wish I knew the answer, but I don’t. In Braverman’s book, he talks about DMG (di-methyl-glycine) as being fairly non-toxic. But on the other hand, he mentions that increased methylation can be a problem for some people who have schizophrenia. Also he says that large doses of SAMe have been known to be a problem when bipolar depression is present.

DMG in the presence of nitrites could be mutagenic. [16] So be cautious about eating bacon, lunchmeat and other foods preserved with nitrates at the same time as you take your DMG or TMG.

The Kirkman Labs site has more information about TMG and DMG. http://www.kirkmanlabs.com It says that DMG can decrease folic acid levels, and therefore you should add more folic acid when taking DMG. Dr. Bernard Rimland’s experience indicates a need of two 800 mcg folic acid tablets with each 125 mg tablet of DMG. Otherwise you may notice symptoms of hyperactivity. An approximate conversion factor when using TMG instead of DMG is found in this article from Kirkman Labs. They state,

“TMG converts one of these harmful chemicals, toxic homocysteine into methionine. It also boosts the level of beneficial SAMe and then becomes DMG (Dimethylglycine). It takes approximately 250mg of TMG to naturally produce 125 mg of DMG.”


Therefore, if you use a typical capsule of 500 mg of TMG, then you would need approximately four 800 mcg folic acid tablets to balance the DMG that this much TMG creates. This would just be a rough guess. I don’t know if the extra methyl group in TMG would increase the need for folic acid to above this amount. Again, balance is important. Hugh Fudenberg, MD cautions that the folic acid should be balanced with B12.

Willis: Folic acid has a short 4-hour half-life, so it is best to take the folic acid spread throughout the day. The only adverse report on folic acid that I know about pertains to Downs Syndrome where, due to their particular problems, we are cautioned to use no more than 3 mg folic acid per day. About half the autistic don’t do well on TMG; it over-methylates them. These will do better on DMG.

Mrs. Generic: Why is DMG used in the treatment of autism?

Polly: DMG will often improve speech and eye contact in these kids. I don’t know which property of DMG is the most important to the autistic — methylation or the glycine. Glycine is very important to brain function, including verbal memory. [17] However, methylation is very important to the autistic too. Many are mercury poisoned which lowers methylation in the body.

Braverman has several interesting pages on the subject of DMG in his book The Healing Nutrients Within. He mentions that in one study, DMG was shown to enhance both antibody and cell-mediated immune response by stimulating white blood cell metabolism although that study has not been duplicated yet.

Lynni: DMG does, as far as I know, treat Tourettes and tics etc. A friend’s son was having problems and DMG was suggested. DMG is not anything that someone with low blood pressure or slow synapses would want to take!

Polly: What is this about DMG and low blood pressure or slow synapses?

Lynni: Well in Tourettes, and in seizures, and tics, the desired effect of DMG is to lessen the neurons firing as they are “overfiring” in these syndromes. Synaptic response also controls blood pressure (arterial walls relax, then blood pressure goes down temporarily).

Ulva Rigida, Calcium-d-glucarate, Diindolymethane And DMSA

Sally: One supplement many docs are unaware of is Ulva Rigida. It is a sea algae (one of the sea lettuces) consisting of 10% glucuronic acid and other micro-nutrients. It supports one of the phase II liver detox pathways that may be overlooked. However, the only way you know which pathways to enhance is if you are tested.

For liver clearing, there is the dreaded coffee enema (2 cups for 10 minute retention). Full instructions are included in Dr. Rogers’s book, Wellness Against All Odds. They are really very mild but the initial thought is the hardest part to overcome. It took a lot of convincing for me to try, this but it was one of the best things I did. Rogers also recommends the lemon and olive oil liver and gall bladder flush, but I would start with the coffee enema first, as it is milder. The book contains both procedures in detail.

Polly: Most people haven’t heard of calcium-d-glucarate, either. Calcium-d-glucarate prevents the conjugated estrogens in the bile from being deconjugated by the bacteria in the gut. When the estrogens are deconjugated they can be reabsorbed and reused by our body. (N.E.E.D.S. and Willner Chemists carry calcium-d-glucarate. http://www.needs.com and http://www.willner.com) But since the calcium-d-glucarate can also speed up the disposal of certain drugs, you must ask your pharmacist or doctor before using this with any prescription drugs. Also, this may alter the ratio of your hormones faster than your body can tolerate. Like so many things, it should be started slowly to see if it is tolerated.

Diindolymethane is a nutrient found in broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. It helps the liver convert estrogen into a form that is safer for the body to get rid of. These foods are very good for you, however, if you are going to eat a significant amount of these, the food should be cooked. Otherwise these foods can interfere with the thyroid. If you hate the taste of these foods, or would just rather take a pill, you can purchase a supplement of diindolymethane. Nature’s Way carries it, and they call it DIM-Plus. Nature’s Way is carried in most vitamin shops. The product is also available from Vitamin Research and they call it BioDIM. http://www.vrp.com

There is some promotion of a product called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) which is converted by the stomach acid to DIM and other chemicals. According to Leon Bradlow, PhD, you are much better off with the DIM product. There are some undesirable properties of the I3C. [18]

I like the Vitamin Research Company because their newsletters are excellent and because they claim to test their products before supplying them to the public. Steven Wm. Fowkes, a cofounder of Vitamin Research, has some outstanding articles at his CERI site too. (CERI is the Cognitive Enhancement Research Institute.) These articles are unusually well done. Their website is http://www.ceri.com/ff.htm .

DMSA (2,3-Dimercaptosuccinic Acid) is also a very curious substance. It is used to remove lead and heavy metals, but it also seems to remove other toxins that the body usually has a very hard time removing. I had immediate and wonderful results from the first dose of DMSA. However, DMSA must be used very cautiously. With continued use of DMSA, it no longer agreed with me.

2 Responses to “About SAMe, TMG, DMG and the Liver”

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  1. Parvin matin says:

    I like know that which one is better tmg or dmg.. can use dmg tmg same time.
    Thank you

  2. Polly Hattemer says:

    There is no need to use both TMG and DMG at the same time. You will have to experiment to find out which nutrient your body does best with.

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