Adenosine monophosphate (AMP) is a substance the body creates on the way to making adenosine triphosphate (ATP), a source of energy used throughout the body. ATP is so ubiquitous in the body it is sometimes called the body’s “energy currency.”
There is no nutritional requirement for AMP, because the body manufactures it from scratch.
A typical recommended dose of AMP is 100–200 mg daily. However, it is not clear that AMP can be absorbed orally, and most studies have involved an injected form of the substance.
In adults, infection by the virus herpes zoster can cause a condition known as shingles. The initial shingles attack generally abates in a couple of weeks, but symptoms can go on to become chronic. This condition is called post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN). Some evidence hints that people with herpes zoster infection may have lower than normal levels of AMP. On this slim basis, AMP has been studied as a possible treatment for initial shingles symptoms as well as for preventing PHN.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 32 people with shingles, AMP was injected three times a week for 4 weeks.4 At the end of the 4-week treatment period, 88% of those treated with AMP were pain free versus only 43% in the placebo group; all participants still in pain were then given AMP, and no recurrence of pain was reported in 3 to 18 months of follow-up.
However, this was a preliminary study, and more evidence is needed before AMP can be considered a proven treatment for shingles or PHN. Furthermore, oral AMP has not been tried for this condition. It is questionable whether AMP taken orally actually makes it intact into the body.
Another study found weak evidence that injected AMP might be helpful for cold sores.1 However, this study was not a double-blind trial; it was an open study, in which the placebo effect and other confounding factors could have played a major role. For that reason, its results cannot be relied upon at all. (For information on why double-blind studies are essential to prove a treatment effective, see Why Does This Database Rely on Double-blind Studies?)
Another open study hints that AMP, this time in an oral form, might be helpful for people with excessive sensitivity to the sun ( photosensitivity) associated with a condition called porphyria cutanea tarda.3
In the human studies performed, use of oral AMP has not been associated with any side effects. However, it has been suggested that use of supplemental AMP could potentially decrease immunity.2
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
1. Sklar SH, Buimovici-Klein E. Adenosine in the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 1979;48:416–417.
2. Sherlock CH, Corey L. Adenosine monophosphate for the treatment of varicella zoster infections: a large dose of caution. JAMA. 1985;253:1444–5.
3. Gajdos A. AMP in porphyria cutanea tarda [letter]. Lancet. 1974;I:163.
4. Sklar SH, Blue WT, Alexander EJ, et al. Herpes zoster. The treatment and prevention of neuralgia with adenosine monophosphate. JAMA. 1985;253:1427–30.
Last reviewed December 2015 by EBSCO CAM Review Board Last Updated: 12/15/2015