Are you searching for relief from painful symptoms? Low Dose Naltrexone may be the answer.
What is low dose Naltrexone?
Often, medications are designed and developed for one purpose, then either through serendipity or research, are found to have additional benefits or be useful for another purpose altogether. This is what happened with the drug Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the opioid receptors in your brain. These receptors are meant to respond to endorphins—your body’s natural “feel good” chemicals. Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984 for opioid addiction because, when taken in a 50mg dose it blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. In 1985, a New York City physician, Dr. Bernard Bihari, began studying the effects of a much smaller dose of Naltrexone (1.5mg to 4.5mg) on the body’s immune system. He discovered that patients in his practice with certain types of autoimmune diseases often showed significant improvements in their disease while taking low doses of naltrexone.
How Does Low Dose Naltrexone Work?
Low Dose Naltrexone works on two areas:
- It binds and blocks opioid receptors, tricking the body into thinking levels are low, ramping up production. Endorphins reduce pain, but they are also very important in modulating our immune system. This is why LDN works well with autoimmune diseases Hashimoto’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Celiac Disease, Psoriasis, Sjogren’s, and Scleroderma.
- It also binds and blocks Toll-like Receptors, which release inflammatory cytokines, thereby reducing inflammation. This is why LDN works well with Lyme Disease, as it reduces inflammation, pain, and the neuropathy that many of these patients suffer from.
How Is LDN Taken?
There is a gradual increase of the dose over one month’s time. The dosing depends on the disease being treated. Generally, the recommendation is to take 1.5mg daily for the first two weeks, then to increase to 3mg for 2 weeks, then to 4.5mg daily. Hashimoto’s Disease is the exception. I generally start at a lower dose and go slower because sometimes the decrease in antibodies can be significant and there needs to be caution with thyroid dosing.
When Is LDN Taken?
Initially, the recommendation was to take LDN at bedtime, so that it peaks around the same time that endorphins generally rise, around 3-4 am. However, studies have shown similar results when taking LDN in the morning.
What Are the Side Effects of LDN?
Low Dose Naltrexone is generally very well tolerated. Occasionally, some may experience headaches, though this usually resolves within a few days. Less than 10% of the patients who take LDN at bedtime will experience vivid dreams, nightmares, or insomnia. Though this generally resolves within 2 weeks, if it is particularly bothersome, you may switch to taking the medication in the morning.
How Long Does it Take for Low Dose Naltrexone to Work?
It depends on the disease and the patient. For some patients the end point may be pain relief and for others it may be stabilization of the disease, with fewer exacerbations. I have seen patients start to see pain relief pretty quickly but for some it can take months. Low Dose Naltrexone is not a substitute for standard treatments. It is used as an adjunct to other therapies.
Is LDN an opiate? Is it a controlled substance?
LDN is not an opiate and is not a controlled substance. It is an opiate blocker and is used in regular dosages (50mg) to help patients stop abusing alcohol and opiates. However, at lower dosages, it is an immune modulator and has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects, especially in the brain and around nerves.
Why won’t my doctor prescribe it for me?
Most traditional doctors are only familiar with naltrexone’s usage for addictions, thus are unwilling to consider using it for other indications. Plus, since LDN is a cheap and generic drug, there are no drug companies to fund the kind of large studies that will get doctors’ attention. You may find more information about it here: https://www.ldnresearchtrust.org
REMEMBER! It does take time for LDN to make a noticeable difference in your symptoms. You can expect a decrease in inflammation, relief from pain, or overall symptom improvement in a few months and there will be continued benefits if you continue treatment with LDN.
You can take LDN for extended periods of time because there’s no risk of addiction. So, you can experience a more pain-free life without fear of drug dependency.