Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a Treatment for Autoimmune Disease (2022)

Page Contents:

  • How LDN Works
  • The Effectiveness of LDN
  • Finding a Doctor to Work With

What conditions is low-dose naltrexoneeffective for? There are actually two ways to answer this question. The first is what the scientific literature shows, and then the second is what clinical and anecdotal experience of clinicians that are working with LDN shows.

In this episode, we cover:

3:36 How LDN works
10:50 The effectiveness of LDN
17:25 Finding a doctor to work with

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Steve Wright: Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening. You are listening to the Revolution Health Radio Show. I’m your host, Steve Wright, co-author at SCDlifestyle.com. This episode of the RHR podcast is brought to you by 14Four.me. This is a 14-day healthy lifestyle reset program. Chris has put together a really simple, step-by-step, hand-holding program for those of you who are still struggling with sleep issues, weight issues, gut issues — actually basically any health issues — because the 14Four.me program addresses your food, your sleep, your movement, and your stress, all foundational principles for living a long, healthy life and overcoming any sort of chronic conditions you’re still dealing with. If you’re having problems implementing these in your life, please check out 14Four.me. It might be the program for you.

With me is integrative medical practitioner, healthy skeptic, and New York Times bestselling author, Chris Kresser. Chris, how are you doing?

Chris Kresser: Pretty well. How are you, Steve?

Steve Wright: I’m catching up on some sleep, but I’m doing well.

(Video) RHR: Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a Treatment for Autoimmune Disease

Chris Kresser: All right. Yeah, I heard you’ve been out partying hard at Garth Brooks concerts!

Steve Wright: I can’t say I haven’t been. It’s been good to put on the Stetson, the cowboy boots, and sing some Friends in Low Places.

Chris Kresser: That’s pretty awesome. I have to remember you’re Midwest born and raised, right?

Steve Wright: Yeah, yeah, coming from the rural backwoods of Michigan. Not really that backwoods, but —

Chris Kresser: That’s great.

Steve Wright: — I got the country gene.

Chris Kresser: Good times, good times.

Steve Wright: Yes.

Chris Kresser: All right, so we have a great question this week. It was actually hard for me to believe that I had never covered it. I’ve talked about it on so many different podcasts and in blog articles and stuff, but I realized when we got this question that I had never actually covered this topic in one distinct podcast, so here we go.

Question from Larry: Hi, Chris. My name is Larry Leibowitz. I’m an integrative/functional family physician in Connecticut. I’ve become an avid listener to your podcast, and I find a lot of the material to be extremely useful and very helpful for my practice. As you can imagine, I see a lot of patients with chronic inflammatory conditions. Many of them are autoimmune in nature, and recently I’ve been considering the use of low-dose naltrexone with my patients. I’d be very interested in hearing about your experiences with the medication, some of the successes and/or failures, and in which cases you find it to be the most useful. Thanks. Take care.

Chris Kresser: All right. Yeah, like I said, it’s something we’ve talked about here and there, and it can be really useful for people with autoimmune conditions. I think a lot of folks have heard of it by now, but I want to just take the chance to give a little bit of background, explain how LDN, low-dose naltrexone, works, what kind of conditions it’s been studied in and might be effective for, and we’ll talk about some pros and cons and things to keep in mind if you take it and how you might find a doctor that you can work with to take it.

How LDN Works

As the name implies, low-dose naltrexone is a low dose of a medication called naltrexone that was originally approved back in the ’80s at a higher dose, 50 mg, for the purpose of helping opiate and heroin addicts to get off those drugs, and it works by blocking the reception of opioid hormones. So if you were on a 50 mg dose, you could take any kind of opiate drug and not get high. But the problem was that in addition to not getting high when taking these opiates, people who were taking 50 mg of naltrexone didn’t feel any pleasure at all because the opioid receptors in our brain mediate our experience of pleasure. So at the full dose, naltrexone really reduced that experience of pleasure and, therefore, wasn’t a very sustainable or effective drug.

But around that time in the mid ’80s there was a doctor in New York named Dr. Bihari who was interested in treating cancer and AIDS, which was just becoming something that people were starting to focus on more at that point, of course, and he discovered that a low dose between 3 mg and 4.5 mg of naltrexone had beneficial effects on the immune system. And since then, LDN has been used for autoimmune disease, cancer, and other conditions that involve immune dysregulation. This is important to understand if you’re going to talk to your doctor about LDN because a lot of doctors might be familiar with naltrexone that was used for this purpose and might raise their eyebrows or not be familiar with the fact that a lower dose is used for a completely different purpose. The higher dose is about blocking opioid receptors and detox and getting people off drugs, whereas the low dose is being used now for balancing and regulating the immune system, so it’s important to make that distinction.

(Video) Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) & Autoimmune Disease - Recorded Webinar

Without getting too geeky here, I want to tell you a little bit about how LDN works because it’s interesting, and it, of course, helps to understand how it might benefit you if you have an immune-related condition. And this is ongoing. There are new papers published about the mechanisms of LDN each year, and we’re still learning about this, but so far, there are two main mechanisms that have been identified. One is that, as I said, it regulates the immune system, and it does this primarily by promoting T regulatory cell function. The T regulatory cells, or Tregs, they keep the immune system in balance, and they turn inflammation on and off, depending on what’s needed, and they prevent the immune system from getting stuck in patients with overactive immune systems, like people with allergies or asthma or autoimmune conditions. The way this works is LDN, as I mentioned, it temporarily blockades the opioid receptors in the brain, and when the receptors are blocked, the body thinks more opioids are needed, and so it produces more, and by the time more opioids are produced, LDN is out of the system, the receptors are unblocked and receive those, and that leads to essentially a net increase in opioid production.

So if you’re wondering now, like, what does this have to do with the immune system, we now know that people with autoimmune disease often have low levels of these opioids and that white blood cells, which, of course, are what are driving the immune response, have receptors for these opioids, which, of course, suggests that they play a really important role in the immune system.

So that’s number one, this immune-regulating, balancing mechanism.

Steve Wright: Does the increase in opioids actually then cause a corresponding increase in Treg cells? Is that the point you were making there?

Chris Kresser: Yeah, exactly. And then the Treg cells are the ones that — I mean, they’ve been referred to as the police force of the immune system. I’m not sure that’s the best analogy these days, given what’s been happening, but the idea is that they balance and regulate the immune system and keep both sides in check.

Another more recently discovered mechanism is that LDN reduces inflammation in the central nervous system, and the significance of this is that inflammation in the central nervous system is thought to play a role in a number of different conditions that LDN has been shown to be effective for, like fibromyalgia and chronic pain and depression. In addition to blocking the opioid receptors, LDN blocks something called toll-like receptor 4 that’s found on white blood cells that are called microglia, and the microglia are central nervous system immune cells that produce inflammation, pain sensitivity, fatigue, sleeplessness, mood disorders, and cognitive problems. When those microglia are chronically activated, as they are fibromyalgia and other pain disorders, it results in neurotoxicity and then this whole wide cascade of symptoms that are associated with all these conditions, and LDN essentially blocks that cascade by blocking the receptors on those microglial cells. This probably explains why in some of the studies so far LDN has been shown to reduce something called erythrocyte sedimentation rate, or ESR, which is an inflammatory marker that’s elevated in conditions like fibromyalgia.

Again, to recap, there are two basic mechanisms: balancing and regulating the immune system and then reducing central nervous system inflammation. There probably are other mechanisms, but those are the ones that have been the most clearly defined so far.

Steve Wright: Chris, is there any way for people to test their opiate levels to know if they might be low and LDN would be an ideal —

Chris Kresser: Not that I’m aware of. There are some tests that can look at various kinds of immune cells and the balance between those immune cells, but they’re not widely available and they’re a little bit difficult to interpret, so it’s not something that I think is that useful for the average person or ready for primetime. I think with LDN the best way to determine if you’ll benefit from it is whether you have the conditions that it’s shown to be useful for or any other kind of immune-related condition and then just doing a therapeutic trial, but we’ll talk a little bit more about that in a second.

The Effectiveness of LDN

OK, so what conditions is LDN effective for? There are actually two ways to answer this question. The first is what the scientific literature shows, and then the second is what clinical and anecdotal experience of clinicians that are working with LDN shows. There’s definitely research out there on LDN, but it’s still somewhat limited, and I think clinical and anecdotal experience is further ahead in terms of the breadth of conditions that LDN is being used for and the experience of how effective it can be for those conditions. The studies are also still usually relatively small sample size, not always randomized, not always double-blinded. Part of the reason for this is they’re probably not that well-funded because low-dose naltrexone is off patent, and that means that drug companies don’t stand to make a killing on selling LDN, and it’s unlikely that a whole lot of money is going to be put into it for that reason.

Having said that, the results so far of the studies on LDN have been really encouraging, and they’ve been primarily on cancer, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, and autism. It’s especially effective for Crohn’s with over a 70% remission rate and even complete mucosal healing as evidenced by colonoscopy in some cases. If you know about Crohn’s disease and how nasty it can be and how difficult to treat and how poor the success rates are of the typical treatments, that’s a pretty remarkable statistic, over 70% remission rate with mucosal healing, especially when you consider the fact that there were not documented side effects of LDN in that study compared to placebo.

So that’s what’s in the scientific literature, but anecdotally clinicians are using it for a whole wide range of conditions involving inflammation and immune dysregulation, autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s and Graves’, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, chronic fatigue syndrome, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It’s being extensively used for infertility. There’s a clinic in the United Kingdom that is basically almost entirely focused on using LDN for fertility to treat patients who are struggling with that. And the reason it’s effective for such a broad range of conditions is because of the mechanism of action. As I said, it regulates and balances the immune system and reduces inflammation, and of course, we know that inflammation and immune dysregulation are at the root of many diseases and certainly at the root of autoimmune conditions. Even though there aren’t any studies of LDN on Hashimoto’s, for example, it makes sense that it would work for Hashimoto’s if it’s working for multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease because the underlying mechanism of all those conditions is immune dysregulation, autoimmunity. That’s why a lot of clinicians out there feel justified and safe in using LDN for conditions that it hasn’t directly been studied on because, A, the mechanism makes sense and, B, it’s safe and well tolerated and doesn’t have any significant complications or risks or even side effects in many of these studies.

One of the advantages of LDN as a therapy is that it’s low cost. It’s off patent, as I said, which means typically you can get it for about 40 bucks a month, 35 or 40 bucks a month from a compounding pharmacy.

(Video) Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) For Autoimmune Diseases

The side effects are pretty minimal, in that in some of the double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, as I said, there was no difference in side effect between placebo and the treatment group, but I will say that in our experience, what we’ve seen in our clinic and other clinicians I know that work with it, there are some side effects that are fairly common, which are temporary sleep disturbance when a patient first starts taking it or vivid dreams and a mild headache, but these usually pass pretty quickly and can often be mitigated by starting with a lower dose, so if 3 mg or 4.5 mg is the ultimate dose that they end up on, starting at, like, 1 mg or 1.25 mg or something and then building up more slowly.

LDN does not have any known abuse potential. It’s not an addictive medication. One of my hesitations or criticisms of a lot of drugs is that they just primarily work by suppressing symptoms and they don’t necessarily improve the function of the body, but LDN is a little different in that respect, in that it works by improving the function, it increases the production of T regulatory cells, which then have that immune-balancing effect and, I think, makes it a little bit safer to use over the long term. Now, of course, if you can achieve results and address your autoimmune condition without using a medication, even one as safe as LDN, then that’s great, but my rubric for a treatment, you know, whether a treatment makes sense, has always been whatever is the most effective and causes the least amount of harm. In many cases, that’s not a drug, but LDN is actually one medication that I think passes that test.

One of the disadvantages of LDN is that there’s still not standardized dose, and really the patient and the prescribing physician just kind of have to figure it out through trial and error. From our experience, we’ve seen most people end up around 2.5 mg to 3 mg; 4.5 mg tends to be too much for people. I’ve seen some patients settle on as little as 1.25 mg or 1.5 mg, but anywhere in the 1 mg or 1.25 mg to 4.5 mg range could be the optimal dose for a given person.

We still need more research. I mentioned that the research we have already is somewhat limited, so we need more research.

Finding a Doctor to Work With

It’s not always easy to get a prescription. A lot of primary care doctors aren’t familiar with it. It’s not covered by insurance. It’s completely off label, but fortunately it’s pretty cheap. Even if people are paying out of pocket, it’s only about 35 or 40 bucks a month.

And although all the studies we have so far show that it’s safe, we don’t have any hard data on really long-term safety, you know, people who have been taking LDN for 10 years or something like that. Of course, that’s true for a lot of drugs, but I’m just pointing that out.

So if you’re interested in LDN, keep in mind it has to be prescribed by a physician, or in some states, a naturopath can prescribe it. You can print out some studies from PubMed. You can go into PubMed.org and search for “low-dose naltrexone,” and there are a bunch of studies that will pop out. You can print those out and take them to your doctor to discuss. There’s a website called LDNinfo.org that has kind of a clearinghouse of information on LDN that you can go to. There’s a Yahoo group about LDN that you can join and talk to folks there and try to find a practitioner in your area.

What I don’t recommend is ordering it from overseas pharmacies. You never know what you’re getting that way, and there have been a lot of studies showing that drugs that come from those pharmacies are not often what they claim to be, and that’s just flat out dangerous and not very smart. Hopefully that goes without saying, but I’m just mentioning it anyway.

And particularly with LDN, it should be obtained from a reputable compounding pharmacy that has some experience in compounding LDN. I mean, there are certain pharmacies that know which binders and fillers make the most sense with it and seem to be the best tolerated, and they just a lot more experience working with patients that are taking it, and it’s a good idea to refer your physician to one of those. Skip’s Pharmacy in Florida is the one that comes to mind that’s been doing it for the longest period of time, so you can look them up on the web. There’s also a list of recommended pharmacies on the LDNinfo.org site that you can make your doctor aware of.

Let’s see. Anything else come to mind? What have you got, Steve?

Steve Wright: I got a question. Have you seen in your patient population that, for instance, say someone settles on 3 mg, do they ever need to change that? Does the effect wear down over time, or do life circumstances sometimes mean that you could get more sensitive or less sensitive to it?

Chris Kresser: Great question. My sort of take is usually, like, let’s use any treatment, whether it’s a supplement or medication for a therapeutic purpose, to reach a therapeutic goal, and once we reach that goal, I’m always interested in seeing if we get people off of stuff, maybe once the immune system comes back into balance and the patient is symptom free. Like we’ve talked about before, the concept of tolerance. You’re an engineer, Steve. You’ve told me about it. It’s easier to maintain something within tolerance, that’s already where it should be, than it is to get it back there in the first place. A patient may want to stop taking LDN or titrate off of it after a while to just test to see if they can maintain the improvement that they’ve gained from it.

On the other hand, if somebody has a condition like Graves’ disease where there’s a real risk of going into a hyperthyroid storm and stroking out and that’s been historically an issue for them and LDN is just completely managing it without any other medication, if you’re going to weigh that against taking PTU or methimazole or pretty toxic medications that often needed for Graves’ or even more invasive, like a surgery to remove the thyroid or to radioactively ablate the thyroid gland, and you’re weighing those against just staying on LDN, of course, you have to talk to your doctor about these questions, but my take on that would be if it were me as a patient, I would rather take LDN on an ongoing basis than to face any of those outcomes. So it just depends on the person.

(Video) 2 Yrs. On Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for Autoimmune Issues - My Story!

And the dose can fluctuate, depending, of course, on the background level of immune dysregulation. If maybe someone is gluten intolerant and they don’t know it and they’re eating gluten and they’re taking LDN and they need the full 4.5 mg dose because they kind of have their foot on the accelerator and the brake at the same time, but then they take gluten out of their diet and maybe 4.5 mg is unnecessary or even starts causing some side effects, so that’s possible.

Steve Wright: One more question.

Chris Kresser: Yeah.

Steve Wright: In previous shows and potentially in writing — I’m not sure where I remember you mentioning this — but you’ve said to commit to a timeframe for LDN because not everybody shows symptom reduction or lab test reduction at a specific point in time after starting taking it, so what are your current thoughts on that?

Chris Kresser: Yeah, it’s the same. I mean, it’s really interesting. Some people, like, the next day after they start they feel like a different person, and then other people, it can take three months for them to really feel a significant difference. We don’t really understand why that is yet. And interestingly enough, it doesn’t necessarily correspond to how sick they are or how long they’ve been sick. I’ve seen it where people have been really kind of in bad shape and they respond immediately and other people whose condition was a lot more benign or mild and they didn’t have an immediate response. I don’t know about that, but I do know that it’s common. So I would say probably give it three months before you let it go if you’re going to try it.

A couple other things to consider are that because LDN blocks the opioid receptors, some pain narcotic drugs like Percocet or morphine or tramadol, LDN can decrease their effectiveness so that typically they shouldn’t be taken together. And patients with Graves’ or Hashimoto’s that are taking thyroid meds should be careful because one thing we’ve seen happen is if someone takes LDN and their thyroid function improves, then the dose of medication they were on that was maintaining equilibrium before all of a sudden becomes too high, and that person can go into kind of like a hyperthyroid episode or start feeling heat or not sleeping well or all those typical symptoms. Your doctor should mention this to you when they prescribe it, but that’s something to be aware of and to talk about with your doctor if you’re on a thyroid medication, to be ready to reduce the dose if your thyroid function starts to improve.

A question that often comes up is, OK, are there some natural alternatives to LDN that achieve the same purpose of reducing central nervous system inflammation and promoting T regulatory cell function? Definitely, there are things that achieve both of those goals. In some cases, especially when you put them together, they can do just as good of a job as LDN, but in other cases I’ve seen LDN just be more effective even when someone’s done all these other things. But for Treg cell function, vitamin D is a powerful T regulatory cell promoter, as is glutathione, so those should definitely be in the repertoire. Maintaining adequate levels of selenium and zinc and iodine is important for immune function. Probiotics, especially bacillus species like soil-based organisms, promote Treg cell function. Butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid that’s produced by beneficial bacteria in the colon, improves Treg cell function, so prebiotics can actually do that indirectly. Vitamin A is important for immune balance, so cod liver oil. And then for inflammation, we have things like curcumin and boswellia — those are COX inhibitors, selective kinase response modulators, fish oil or EPA and DHA from cold-water fish, of course, and then diet obviously. Whether we’re talking about just a general, overall anti-inflammatory paleo-ish type of diet or whether you’re taking the next step and doing an autoimmune protocol type of diet, those can be important as well.

Steve Wright: Awesome. Well, it sounds like a pretty good round-out there. It seems like if people wanted to try those things, I’ve seen a lot of people try those things and not get success and then get on LDN and through LDN and some of those supplements together, like, really have a brand-new life.

Chris Kresser: Yeah, it can be pretty dramatic. And of course, I don’t want to create any false hope or unrealistic expectations for people, but for some it has definitely been life changing. I have patients who had been on those thyrotoxic drugs for 20 years or more, 25 years. One patient comes to mind who had Graves’ and had been on PTU for 20 years and was able to get off PTU completely and all other medications and just take LDN and feel better than she ever had felt during that period and maintain completely normal thyroid numbers, so it can be pretty dramatic. I have to say, though, that we have had patients who have taken it and experienced nothing at all. So it’s not a miracle, of course. No treatment is, but it helps a lot of people, and it does it pretty affordably and without causing a lot of side effects or complications or risks, and that’s a pretty good combination.

Steve Wright: Yeah, definitely. Awesome.

Chris Kresser: All right.

Steve Wright: Well, if listeners would like their question answered, make sure to go to ChrisKresser.com/PodcastQuestion to submit your questions. Chris and his team are always taking those in and trying to pull the most relevant topics that haven’t already been covered, so if you have submitted questions and you’re wondering, why, guys, haven’t we talked about my question, make sure you listen to the rest of our episodes because there’s quite a treasure trove of information that we’ve covered over, what, like, four or five years now?

Chris Kresser: Yeah, four or five years, somewhere in there. I should know, but something like that. Yeah.

(Video) Benefits of Low Dose Naltrexone

Steve Wright: Awesome. And in between episodes, if you’re not following Chris on social media, this is where you can get updates on the latest articles he’s reading, different things that he’s pulled from around the web, so go to Facebook.com/ChrisKresserLAc and Twitter.com/ChrisKresser. Thanks for listening.

Chris Kresser: All right. Thanks, everyone. Talk to you next time.

Those of you who have read my Amazon.com bestselling book, HONEST MEDICINE,  know that it features four low-cost treatments for very serious illnesses — …

I am now writing a second book, which will be entirely about LDN, with true accounts from patients who have successfully used LDN for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia.. Years later, small studies bore out Dr. Bihari’s clinical results, with researchers at Penn State conducting studies on LDN for Crohn’s disease, and researchers at the University of California (San Francisco) conducting an equally successful study on LDN for MS.. In fact, patient advocates have lists of doctors from all over the US and abroad who are on the “LDN Bandwagon.” There have been several conferences, in both the US and Europe, devoted to educating patients and doctors about LDN.. Many of the doctors speak about their LDN patient successes, and others come to learn about LDN from other doctors—and from patients.. In order to educate patients about LDN, so that they can educate their doctors about it, and in so doing, convince their doctors to prescribe it for them, I am now conducting LDN Teleseminars and LDN Coaching sessions .. This led Julia on a path of teaching patients to find innovative treatments, such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid, the Ketogenic Diet and Silverlon, which she describes in her book, HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases.. Note: If you want to try LDN, but your doctor won’t prescribe it for you, Julia Schopick is conducting a 2-part teleseminar on October 22 & October 29 to teach participants about LDN and how to convince doctors to prescribe it.

Low Dose Naltrexone was originally approved in the 1980s at a dose of 50mg to help opiate and heroin addicts. Naltrexone works by blocking the reception of opioid hormones making it easier for drug-dependent adults to stop using.  Around the mid-’80s, a doctor in New York named Dr. Bihari was treating cancer

Around the mid-’80s, a doctor in New York named Dr. Bihari was treating cancer and AIDS patients and discovered that a low dose between 3 mg and 4.5 mg of Naltrexone had beneficial effects on the immune system.. Since then, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has been used to treat symptoms of autoimmune disease, cancer, and other conditions that involve immune dysregulation.. White blood cells drive the immune response and because these cells have opioid receptors, they can be influenced by the effects of LDN.. This makes LDN potentially a really important tool in immune system regulation because of its effects on the Treg cells.. Inflammation in the central nervous system is thought to play a role in a number of different conditions that LDN has been shown to be effective for like fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and depression.. LDN regulates and balances the immune system and reduces inflammation, and of course, we know that inflammation and immune dysregulation are at the root of many diseases and certainly at the root of autoimmune conditions.. Even though there aren’t any studies of LDN on Hashimoto’s, for example, it makes sense that it would work for Hashimoto’s if it’s working for multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease because the underlying mechanism of all those conditions is immune dysregulation, autoimmunity.. Patients with Graves or Hashimoto’s that take thyroid meds should be careful because if someone takes LDN and their thyroid function improves, then the dose of medication they were on prior to going on the LDN will become too high.. A question that often comes up is: Are there some natural alternatives to LDN that achieve the same purpose of reducing central nervous system inflammation and promoting T regulatory cell function?. In some cases, especially when you put them together, they can do just as good of a job as LDN, but in other cases, I’ve seen LDN just be more effective even when someone’s done all these other things.

Over the last year or so, Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has received a lot of press. From an NPR story asserting in tiny doses, LDN — traditionally thought of as an addiction medication — is now moonlighting as a treatment for chronic pain, to an article appearing on Medscape.com suggesting

In this post, we explain how naltrexone may help to prevent relapse into opioid abuse and how it may be helpful, at significantly lower doses, to restore healthy immune function, at least temporarily while the underlying causes of immune system dysfunction are identified and treated.. While on naltrexone, someone taking an opioid won’t feel the “rush” or “high” of the drug, because the opioid molecules have no vacant opioid receptors to bind to.. A year later, Dr. Bernard Bihari — a Harvard Medical School graduate (1957) treating HIV-infected patients — discovered that his patients had less than 20 percent of the normal levels of endorphins and that this low level of endorphins contributed to patients weakened immune systems.. He reasoned that naltrexone could be used at significantly lower doses to temporarily block opioid receptors, which would stimulate the body’s release of endorphins, thereby improving immune function.. After experimenting with various low doses, ranging from 1 to 4.5 mg, Dr. Bihari discovered that low dose naltrexone (LDN) doubled or even tripled endorphin levels in his patients.. We don’t know the mechanism for how endorphins help to modulate the immune system.. What we do know is that endorphin levels are typically lower in people with autoimmune diseases than in people without them, and that LDN increases endorphin levels and reduces inflammation, which results when the immune system attacks health cells in the body.. Here at BioDesign Wellness Center, we frequently prescribe naltrexone to patients suffering from immune dysfunction.. Naltrexone seems to benefit some patients more than others.. LDN is not FDA-approved for autoimmunity, so you cannot get it at conventional pharmacies.. Once prescribed, it’s best to take LDN at 9 p.m. Why?. Taking the medication at 9 p.m. gives the it enough time to bind to your opioid receptors, so when your endorphin level is highest, your brain is tricked into thinking the level is too low, and it signals for production of more endorphins.. Addressing Root Causes of Autoimmunity. At BioDesign Wellness Center, when we use LDN, it’s always alongside our 30-day Autoimmune Solution, which helps to restore your immune system naturally, using dietary and lifestyle changes.. No information contained in this post should be construed as medical advice from the medical staff at BioDesign Wellness Center, Inc., nor is this post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter.

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is being prescribed for autoimmune conditions by a greater number of medical doctors these days. And so it’s not surprising that many people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis have asked me if they can benefit from taking LDN. While LDN is something for some people with autoimmune thyroid conditions to consider taking, there are some drawbacks of taking this medication, which I will discuss in this article.

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is being prescribed for autoimmune conditions by a greater number of medical doctors these days.. You’ll notice that there aren’t studies I listed which show that low dose naltrexone can benefit those with autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.. But this doesn’t mean that LDN can’t help people with these conditions, as there also aren’t any studies which show that LDN is ineffective for thyroid autoimmunity.. Low Dose Naltrexone vs. Thyroid Medication. When someone is dealing with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, most medical doctors will recommend thyroid hormone medication.. As for those patients with hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, while many people do fine taking antithyroid medication such as Methimazole, this isn’t always the case.. In summary, low dose naltrexone (LDN) can benefit some people with Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

RHR: Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a Treatment for Autoimmune Disease . Find more Autoimmune Disorders, Functional Medicine, Podcasts articles on Kresser Institute

3:36 How LDN works 10:50 The effectiveness of LDN 17:25 Finding a doctor to work with. Chris Kresser: Good times, good times.. Question from Larry: Hi, Chris.. Yeah, like I said, it’s something we’ve talked about here and there, and it can be really useful for people with autoimmune conditions.. I think a lot of folks have heard of it by now, but I want to just take the chance to give a little bit of background, explain how LDN, low-dose naltrexone, works, what kind of conditions it’s been studied in and might be effective for, and we’ll talk about some pros and cons and things to keep in mind if you take it and how you might find a doctor that you can work with to take it.. But around that time in the mid ’80s there was a doctor in New York named Dr. Bihari who was interested in treating cancer and AIDS, which was just becoming something that people were starting to focus on more at that point, of course, and he discovered that a low dose between 3 mg and 4.5 mg of naltrexone had beneficial effects on the immune system.. Again, to recap, there are two basic mechanisms: balancing and regulating the immune system and then reducing central nervous system inflammation.. Steve Wright: Chris, is there any way for people to test their opiate levels to know if they might be low and LDN would be an ideal —. OK, so what conditions is LDN effective for?. There’s definitely research out there on LDN, but it’s still somewhat limited, and I think clinical and anecdotal experience is further ahead in terms of the breadth of conditions that LDN is being used for and the experience of how effective it can be for those conditions.. I mean, there are certain pharmacies that know which binders and fillers make the most sense with it and seem to be the best tolerated, and they just a lot more experience working with patients that are taking it, and it’s a good idea to refer your physician to one of those.. Steve Wright: In previous shows and potentially in writing — I’m not sure where I remember you mentioning this — but you’ve said to commit to a timeframe for LDN because not everybody shows symptom reduction or lab test reduction at a specific point in time after starting taking it, so what are your current thoughts on that?. Your doctor should mention this to you when they prescribe it, but that’s something to be aware of and to talk about with your doctor if you’re on a thyroid medication, to be ready to reduce the dose if your thyroid function starts to improve.

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) reduces inflammation and improves immune function related to symptoms of Lyme disease and co-infections.

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) has been used for a variety of conditions associated with immune system dysregulation since the 1980s.. Physicians that specialize in chronic Lyme disease have discovered low dose naltrexone (LDN) is effective at improving the immune response associated with Lyme disease.. Dr. Bihari was aware of the research that demonstrated naltrexone could improve the immune system, so he performed studies using low doses of naltrexone (LDN) in people with HIV/AIDS.. Low-dose naltrexone partially blocks opiate receptors, which in turn increases endorphin production.. LDN works by blocking toll-like receptors to inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines.

Most people are aware that drugs are not an ideal solution to their health problems, but there are some exceptions to this rule. Dr. Thomas Cowan, a family physician and founding board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF), is a strong proponent of using low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for autoimmune diseases. What Is Naltrexone? … Low-Dose Naltrexone and Dietary Changes for the Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases Read More »

He [discovered that] if you use a very low dose of naltrexone, you block the opiate receptors for maybe an hour or so, and then your body responds by upregulating its synthesis of opiates.. Essentially, when using a very LOW dose, about one-tenth of the dose you’d use for opioid addiction, or less, naltrexone works like a form of hormesis, which is when a compound that is toxic at high doses ends up having the converse effect in small or minute doses.. If they do respond and they make more endorphins, like they would have had with a natural medicine, then you get a positive effect from a normal amount of endorphin production.”. “What I mean by opiates is exogenous opiates; opiates from the outside.. Since endorphins are essentially the flipside of exogenous opiates, meaning endogenous opiates, what you’re doing is substituting the good guys for the bad guys.. In Cowan’s experience, and he’s prescribed LDN for at least 1,000 patients, the autoimmune diet or LDN alone are typically not nearly as effective as the two combined.. “The Cowan Autoimmune Diet is animal foods that are low to modest in protein; seeds, but no grains for a while, and a diversity of vegetables and fermented foods.”. “I recently read a statistic from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): People who eat three to four different parts of the plant per day — we’re talking about the root part, the leaf part, and the flower or fruit part; those are fundamental parts — have 40 percent less chronic disease than people who don’t do that.. Many suffering with autoimmune diseases like MS, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, pemphigus, or Graves’ disease, for example, have been able to significantly improve or go into remission by incorporating LDN and changing their diet to avoid exogenous opioids found in wheat and dairy, and improving their gut health and nutrition with fermented and fresh vegetables .

Low-Dose Naltrexone is an off-label experimental medication used to manage autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and Hashimoto’s.

Low-dose naltrexone is a non-toxic drug used to treat autoimmune diseases.. Low-dose naltrexone has been used to treat conditions related to autoimmunity, including multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.. Naltrexone helps to balance the immune response by activating opioid receptors in the brain and gut.. The scientific literature suggests LDN may be a promising treatment option for people living with a number of different autoimmune disorders , although research continues.. Although studies are limited, some patients have reported positive improvements to their condition after taking LDN, including reduced fatigue, lethargy, and aches.. Low-dose naltrexone, which binds to opioid receptors throughout the body, may act as an immunomodulator and may have beneficial effects in many autoimmune diseases.. Before proceeding with LDN treatment, think about whether you feel comfortable pursuing a treatment option that has yet to receive official approval, and talk to your health care provider about whether there are other treatments that may work better for you.. If you are interested in LDN, talk to your health care provider about its possible effectiveness, side effects, and risks.

Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which a low dose of the opioid antagonist naltrexone (LDN) can suppress cell proliferative-related disorders such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. LDN causes a compensatory increase in an endogenous opioid, the opioid growth factor (OGF, [Met5]-enkephalin), and the OGF receptor (OGFr).

Using a novel tissue culture model of LDN action, the mechanism of LDN has been found to target the opioid growth factor (OGF, [Met5]-enkephalin) and OGF receptor (OGFr) axis.. This discovery, reported in the September 2011 issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, provides new insights into the molecular pathway utilized by an increasingly important clinically prescribed agent that serves as a basic biological regulator of cell proliferative events related to pathobiological states such as cancer and autoimmune diseases. Although the antitumor effects of opioid antagonists were first noted by Drs.. These papers revealed that a short-term opioid receptor blockade with naltrexone (NTX), a general opioid receptor antagonist devoid of intrinsic activity, results in an elevation in endogenous opioids and opioid receptors in response to the opioid receptor blockade.. Removal of endogenous OGF by antibody neutralization in cultures given a short-term opioid receptor blockade by NTX eliminated the repressive effects of this peptide on cell proliferation, indicating that the repercussions of short-term NTX exposure in vitro was dependent on OGF.. However, short-term NTX treatment did not repress cell proliferation when cells were subjected to siRNA to the non-classical opioid receptor, OGFr.. These results indicate that the effects of short-term NTX in vitro are dependent on the OGF-OGFr axis.. Co-author Dr. McLaughlin states: "Now that we know LDN uses the OGF-OGFr axis as the pathway to control the cell cycle, this expands our arsenal of biological-based treatment modalities to bring about a change in disease states reliant on cell proliferation that not only includes LDN, but exogenous OGF and the imidazoquinoline, imiquimod.. Dr. Steven R. Goodman, Editor-in-Chief of Experimental Biology and Medicine said: "These researchers from the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center have made the important discovery of the mechanism by which a low dose of the opioid antagonist naltrexone (LDN) can suppress cell proliferative-related disorders such as cancer and autoimmune diseases.. R. N. Donahue, P. J. McLaughlin, I. S. Zagon.. Low-dose naltrexone targets the opioid growth factor-opioid growth factor receptor pathway to inhibit cell proliferation: mechanistic evidence from a tissue culture model .. ScienceDaily, 2 September 2011.

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is very useful in Lyme disease. This low cost medicine can improve nerve, muscle and inflammation pain, decrease autoimmune illness triggered by Lyme, lower cytokine inflammation, and improve immune system function In this article I review the science and method for how LDN works. I suggest how to use it in Lyme disease. And I review potential side effects.  

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is very useful in Lyme disease.. improve nerve, muscle, and inflammation pain, decrease autoimmune illness triggered by Lyme, lower cytokine inflammation, and improve immune system function.. Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is "low" because it is used at much lower doses than physicians use to treat people with narcotic addictions (or overdose) and alcoholism.. Also cytokines decrease, on LDN, as the immune system shifts away from a TH1 inflammation pattern to more of a TH2 inflammation pattern.. So LDN in Lyme disease can help nerve pain, fibromyalgia like pain, and even regulate mast cells in MCAS.. There are three ways LDN in Lyme disease helps pain.. One reason LDN may help pain, is that the increased endorphins bind to a greater number of endorphin receptors which are more sensitive.. LDN lowers cytokine inflammation, and LDN blocks Toll-like receptors to regulate nerve generated pain, which includes fibromyalgia type pain.. For more detalied information about conditions treated and the reasons why LDN works read The LDN Book published by the LDN Research Trust.

A low dose naltrexone dosage can vary between patients. Patients and prescribers should be aware of these key points about dosages of LDN.

Low dose naltrexone is used to treat a variety of chronic conditions that often do not respond to other treatments.. The FDA-approved naltrexone dosage is more than 10x the dosage of LDN and has been shown to be safe and effective.. There are some unique attributes of LDN dosing that should be understood before a patient starts treatment.. As the name implies, low dose naltrexone uses a much lower dose of this drug.. Some prescribers will start patients at 0.5mg per day and then titrate up gradually until the patient is taking 4.5mg.. Naltrexone’s effects at low dosages are different than the 50mg dose.. Many prescribers have started using LDN because it is just a lower dose of an FDA-approve drug, and as such it has been vetted through the rigorous new drug application process.. Patients taking any opioid-containing drugs should not take low dose naltrexone.. Low dose naltrexone is most often prescribed to be taken once before bedtime (after 9pm).. Our compounding pharmacy provides LDN and custom-makes prescriptions for each individual patient.. This entry was posted in Other Compounds Articles , Pain Management Articles and tagged chronic illness , Crohn's , fibromyalgia , LDN , Low Dose Naltrexone , naltrexone , psoriasis on July 15, 2019 by woodlandhills pharmacy .

CiteSeerX - Scientific articles matching the query: low dose naltrexone

by. A Pilot Studypme_, Jarred Younger, Sean Mackey. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that is characterized by diffuse musculoskeletal pain and sensitivity to mechanical stimulation.. In this pilot clinical trial, we tested the effectiveness of low-dose naltrexone in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia.. Design.. by. Of Opioid Detoxification, Paolo Mannelli, Ashwin A Patkar, Kathleen Peindl, Edward Gottheil, Li-tzy Wu, David A Gorelick. Although withdrawal severity and treatment completion are the initial focus of opioid detoxification, post-detoxification outcome better defines effective interventions.. by. Milagros G. Orbe, William F. Foeste, Johnny R. Thomas, Robert P. Kirk. , 1988. "... 2 Please Note: The following paper describes the first clinical trial of naltrexone in a low dose.. In addition, its optimal adult dosage, rather than the 1.75mg at bedtime descr ...". OBJECTIVES: Endogenous opioids and opioid antagonists have been shown to play a role in healing and repair of tissues.

Anecdotally, low-dose naltrexone treatment (LDN) helps people with autoimmune conditions. Will it become mainstream for treating Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?

Beyond addiction treatment, physicians report¹ benefits of administering low-dose naltrexone therapy(LDN) to treat conditions involving inflammation or faulty immune response, such as fibromyalgia,² Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, complex regional pain syndrome, and cancer.,Through this lens, LDN has potential as a possible emerging treatment for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis —an autoimmune disorder characterized by the immune system attacking healthy thyroid tissue and inflammation of the thyroid gland.. So far, there is a distinct lack of clinical research to validate the effectiveness of LDN to treat Hashimoto’s thyroiditis .. Have you considered clinical trials for Hashimoto's disease?. Hashimoto's thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s disease) is when your body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland (located in your throat).. In addition to thyroid inflammation, common symptoms include:. While many people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis attain an improved quality of life with thyroid hormone replacement therapy, research⁴ indicates that physicians sometimes grapple with determining a patient’s ideal dosage.. In that case, T4 replacement may not be a viable treatment option.. In this use case, Naltrexone is usually prescribed at a dose of 50 mg per day and taken for around six months.. Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) helps regulate the immune system by reducing the production of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline.. However, low-dose naltrexone in pregnant women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis has not been clinically researched, so currently, there is no data to support its safe usage.. Conventional thyroid hormone replacement (T4 treatment) for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is generally safe, effective, and evidence-based.. The use of low-dose naltrexone to treat health conditions other than opioid or alcohol dependence is still in its early days and not reliably indicated by research.

Clinical studies show Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) yields amazing outcomes in immune regulation, pain reduction and symptom management. Read our pro research.

Clinical studies show Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) yields amazing outcomes in immune regulation, pain reduction and symptom management.. It’s been studied as a novel treatment for Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia, and I’ve personally prescribed it as a way to Optimize and Support my autoimmune patients during the Fully Functional® process.. Naltrexone was originally developed in the 1960s, and approved by the FDA in the 1980s as a treatment for opioid addiction.¹ As an opioid receptor antagonist, Naltrexone prevents opioids from affecting neural receptors in the brain and means that opioids (like heroin) have little to no effect when taken along with Naltrexone.. Though it’s only been about a decade since the first LDN trial in humans was published, this treatment has gained a lot of traction in the natural health community, and it’s one of our most common treatment recommendations.. In another double-blind and randomized trial (the most rigorous type of clinical trial), LDN improved patients’ pain, mood, and quality of life significantly better than a placebo.⁴ For fibromyalgia patients living with chronic pain, this treatment is safe and often effective.. In a pilot study conducted in 2010, LDN substantially improved quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients, and in another small clinical trial, it reduced participants’ fatigue and depression with only mild side effects like sleep disturbances, agitation, and urinary tract infections.⁵,⁶. Since no large-scale studies have focused on LDN as a treatment for Crohn’s, the larger medical community is reluctant to accept this treatment.. We typically recommend that patients begin at a low dose of 1.5 mg (sometimes less) and work up to a dose that does not negatively affect their sleep, typically up to 4.5 mg. We carefully monitor lab work during this period to observe changes in antibody production or other measures of inflammation, like high sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP).

Videos

1. What is Low Dose Naltrexone? Benefits of LDN? Role of LDN in inflammation / autoimmune conditions.
(Body of Harmony)
2. Low Dose Naltrexone - LDN - for Autoimmune Disease: A Presentation from Julia Schopick
(Mary Shomon)
3. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) - Mechanism of Action
(Drbeen Medical Lectures)
4. Does LDN help with Autoimmune Disease?
(LDN Research Trust - Low Dose Naltrexone)
5. What is Low Dose Naltrexone.(LDN). Learn how it can be used to treat chronic autoimmune conditions
(Pharmacyrepublic )
6. Low Dose Naltrexone use for chronic inflammation and autoimmune thyroid conditions.
(The Compounding Center)

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