Either through your own research or your doctor’s recommendation, you have found your way to Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). Perhaps, like many conventional healthcare professionals, you are unsure about its safety and efficacy, or you may have a prescription in hand but are wondering how it works. Recognizing that the internet is full of articles and testimonials, I will direct you to trustworthy resources and caution you to be wary of exaggerated claims or one-off case reports.
Here, I will discuss the latest research on your most pressing questions: Is it safe? Does it work? How can it help ME?
LDN is considered very safe and well-tolerated, after more than three decades of study. Only one known interaction involves opioid medications due to their competing effects. If you have been accustomed to taking opioids for pain relief, LDN may interfere with their efficacy and thus cause withdrawal symptoms of pain, nausea, or vomiting. Side effects of LDN are rare or negligible; the most common being vivid dreams or disturbed sleep because the prescription is usually given at bedtime. This is easily resolved with a morning dose. (The latest research shows that LDN is equally effective both morning and night.) Other less common side effects include anxiety, headache, or diarrhea. Most of these are dose-dependent. Thus, frequent communication with your doctor in finding the most effective dose for YOU is crucial to your success.
LDN gained fame because of its ability to prevent progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) and Crohn’s disease. Symptoms of these diseases also regressed in some cases. Dr. Ian Zagone, one of the original researchers who was surprised by its benefits, also found that LDN was able to decrease solid tumor (cancer) size. These findings focused on how LDN caused an intermittent release of endorphins, your naturally produced opioids. This was achieved only with the low dose, rather than the FDA approved dose of 50 mg or more. (This was FDA approved in the USA for opioid-addiction recovery).
More recent research has focused on the action LDN has on brain neurons called “glial cells”. Glial cells are crucial to the inflammation response, which is mediated by molecules on your cells called “TLR4” (highly concentrated in the digestive tract, and also in the brain – interesting correlation to both MS and Crohn’s). In chronic pain cases such as fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, TLR4 is overproduced creating a constant pain signal and/or hypersensitivity to that signal.
Pharmaceutical research is currently focused on TLR4 antagonists to calm this response; however, we already know that LDN is quite good at doing this. Based on this research, I prescribe LDN for conditions that include chronic pain, an autoimmune component, or the nervous system. Examples of conditions that may benefit from LDN:
- Arthritis associated with Lyme’s
- Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neuropathy – from chemotherapy or diabetes
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Spinal cord injuries
For more information, please call our office for a consultation.
In health and light,