Lose Dose Naltrexone (LDN) – Wonder Drug For Lyme Disease & Other Chronic Illnesses?

For months I have been coming across mention of the off-label use of a medication – low dose naltrexone (LDN) – and its remarkable usefulness in treating various illnesses, including Lyme disease, MS, cancer, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and chronic viral infections such as HIV. Just by Googling “low dose naltrexone” I came across copious testimonials of people who are trying to help others by spreading the word of their sometimes dramatic improvements since adding LDN to their treatment protocols or even as a stand alone treatment (many of them suffering from neurological diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s and/or Lyme disease). Naturally curious as well as circumspect, I decided I would read whatever I could on the use of low dose naltrexone and then consult with my LLMD to see if he has had any experience in treating patients with it. It didn’t hurt to find out that low dose naltrexone has a long history of safety and lack of serious side effects.

So, what is “low dose naltrexone”?

Naltrexone is an FDA-approved opiate antagonist that has traditionally been used to wean alcoholics and opioid dependent drug users off the substances, but, in a low dose (referred to as “low dose naltrexone” which is approx. 1/10 the dose used for drug/alcohol rehabilitation), can boost the immune system — helping those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and central nervous system disorders.

Low dose naltrexone blocks the opiate receptor for about four hours which causes a rebound effect resulting in a dramatic increase in endogenous opiate production.

“Certain medications will work against the naltrexone such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Oxymorphone and other opiate/opioid narcotics. These medications should not be taken while on Naltrexone, as nausea, vomiting, cold sweats, chills, and sometimes numbness in the limbs may occur. Naltrexone may also interfere or counteract both low and high doses of over-the-counter NSAID medications.”[1]

Amazingly, LDN can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, modulate the immune system, and even inhibit cancer cell proliferation.

LDN is generally used in doses ranging from 3-4.5 mg daily, but many people start at 1.4 mg and work their way up. People with multiple sclerosis (MS) and muscle spasticity tend to do better on a 3 mg dose than the standard 4.5 mg dose recommended for neurodegenerative disorders.

From what I have read, the most common side effects of LDN are waking up in the middle of the night and vivid dreams which tend to subside a few weeks after beginning the treatment. Although the recommendation at one time was to take LDN in the evening before going to sleep, LDN can be taken at any time which might mitigate any possible sleep disturbance.


Dr David Gluck discusses how LDN works, its successful track record, and the politics of why much of the medical community is either unaware of its many uses or have not yet embraced LDN in their practice.

Effects of LDN

“The Pennsylvania State University researcher, Dr. Ian Zagon, Ph.D. has been studying LDN for 25 years and reports that LDN’s most important effect is its ability to increase production of met-5-enkephalin, which he named opioid growth factor (OGF) for its functional properties. The endogenous opiates are neurotransmitters as well as cytokines, influencing the activities of immune system cells and having distinct biochemical effects (e.g. growth factors, neurotrophic factors, antiviral activity, anti-tumor activity, anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory effects).

OGF forms a complex or system when it reacts with the OGF receptor, a receptor found on immune system cells and cancer cells. This system inhibits inflammation and cancer cell growth. This system also restores homeostasis, a natural process in which the body’s cells and systems work together to maintain health. Thus, LDN helps the body heal itself. In certain cancers, OGF is used in place of LDN.

Dr. Jau-Shyong (John) Hong of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) discovered that LDN also prevents microglial activation, the main cause of chronic brain inflammation. In addition, LDN has antioxidant properties that reduce the effects of free radicals throughout the body, thereby reducing chronic inflammation.

LDN also causes changes that reduce neuronal degeneration. As a consequence, LDN offers protection against neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and MS. Chronic inflammation contributes to the persistence of autoimmune disorders and is an underlying cause of many conditions, including Crohn’s disease.

By increasing endorphins, which are immunomodulators, LDN improves immune function. Immunomodulators stimulate antibody production in patients with immunodeficiency (HIV infection) and reduce antibody production in patients with excessive antibody production (autoimmune disorders, herpes, Lyme disease).
The Common Link

Doctors Zagon and Hong and other experts in the field reported that diseases which respond favorably to LDN are diseases that benefit from effects on cell proliferation (cancer inhibition) or from a reduction in inflammation (neurodegenerative and autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia) or that benefit from the restoration of homeostasis and immunomodulation (virtually all disorders, including infectious diseases).
Clinical Trials

To date, LDN has been studied or is undergoing clinical trials for pancreatic and head and neck cancers, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, neuroblastoma, melanoma, autism, Parkinson’s disease, lymphoma, multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia. There are also many anecdotal reports that suggest LDN offers benefits in a wide range of other autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases and malignancies. Clinical trials are needed to confirm the anecdotal reports.”[2]

CAUTION:
Because LDN blocks opioid receptors throughout the body for three or four hours, people using medicine that is an opioid agonist, i.e. narcotic medication — such as Ultram (tramadol), morphine, Percocet, Duragesic patch or codeine-containing medication — should not take LDN until such medicine is completely out of one’s system. Patients who have become dependant on daily use of narcotic-containing pain medication may require 10 days to 2 weeks of slowly weaning off of such drugs entirely (while first substituting full doses of non-narcotic pain medications) before being able to begin LDN safely.

Those patients who are taking thyroid hormone replacement for a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with hypothyroidism ought to begin LDN at the lowest range (1.5mg for an adult). Be aware that LDN may lead to a prompt decrease in the autoimmune disorder, which then may require a rapid reduction in the dose of thyroid hormone replacement in order to avoid symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Wow. Could it really be a panacea? Well, no, unfortunately not everyone benefits from taking low dose naltrexone. I will keep you posted on what my LLMD has to say about using LDN for Lyme disease when I see him in three weeks…until then, read on low dose naltrexone as it just may be of help!

UPDATE 7/6/11

I decided to hold off for now on trying LDN as, when I went off all the antibiotics earlier this year, I was deciding between trying a Rife machine or the LDN (I didn’t want to do two big therapies at once or else I felt I wouldn’t be able to tell what was doing what), and so ended up going with the Rife machine. I have a script for the LDN and it is on my list of things to try, so I most likely will. I will keep you updated!

Resources:

You really want to have low dose naltrexone compounded by a pharmacy that has had experience in making it up as there are various fillers that are better than others and you can find a list of recommended pharmacies that ship throughout the US and even the world by going to http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/
*Low dose naltrexone should be compounded as 4.5 mg vegicapsules using Avicil as the filler and put in Veggicapsules! It is recommended that calcium carbonate is not used as a filler for tablets as it can impede the absorption of the LDN. As well, some pharmacies have been supplying a slow-release form of naltrexone. Pharmacies should be instructed NOT to provide LDN in an “SR” or slow-release or timed-release form because unless the low dose of naltrexone is in an unaltered form, which permits it to reach a prompt “spike” in the blood stream, its therapeutic effects may be inhibited.. The recommended dose is 4.5 mg, but some people, especially those with severe MS, feel better on a slightly lower dose of 3 mg. Sometimes prescriptions are written for 1.5 mg capsules so that the patient can try taking either two or three at once. LDN is relatively inexpensive, usually costing between $15 and $40 a month.

http://www.LDNers.org

Books

In “Up the Creek with a Paddle” by Mary Boyle Bradley, she writes about her husband’s experience with LDN and MS, and her uncle’s experience with LDN and Parkinson’s disease.

I am now reading and would highly recommend you get “The Promise Of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy: Potential Benefits in Cancer, Autoimmune, Neurological and Infectious Disorders” by Elaine A. Moore (Author), Dr. Yash P. Agrawal (Foreword), Samantha Wilkinson (Collaborator). For more information you can visit

http://www.elaine-moore.com/Books/NEWThePromiseofLDNTherapy/tabid/102/Default.aspx

“Those Who Suffer Know Much” is a book that is distributed free of charge (Free download!) that gives many health case studies of using LDN in a broad range of diseases.

http://www.keephopealive.org/naltrexonecasereports.pdf

“The Lyme Disease Solution” by Ken Singleton, M.D. has a chapter about the use of LDN.

References:
1. “Naltrexone”. Wikipedia.com
2. Moore, Elaine. “Benefits of Low Dose Naltrexone: Immunomodulatory and Biochemical Effects of LDN“. March 2, 2008. Suite101.com

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17 comments for “Lose Dose Naltrexone (LDN) – Wonder Drug For Lyme Disease & Other Chronic Illnesses?

  1. susiebaby
    January 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    information on lyme disease

    • August 3, 2014 at 10:43 pm

      Hey Damion update on the LDN start-up. It’s been about 2 monhts and I’ve remained on the 3.0 dose Sleeping good but definitely still needing more sleep to feel great. The blues kind of passed and I’m slowly feeling a bit more like my energetic, happy self. Was considering dropping to a 2.0 mg dose to see if less felt better, but may stick with 3.0 for awhile longer. Noticeable difference is eating the legal SCD foods that bothered me before LDN or eating something off the diet results in somewhat less of a reaction than I experienced with just SCDiet before taking LDN. Am going to let my 17 yr old give it a go. Julie

    • August 6, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re getting off the seodtirs. This kind of cyclical dependence on pharma is exactly why I’ve been working so hard to avoid them. I consider them an option of absolute last resort. And as for pooping I’m ALL about pooping! As one prone to constipation, I’m always happy about it, no matter when it happens! By taking the LDN, you’re increasing your seratonin production, which could very well have an impact on your gut (after all, pretty much EVERYTHING has an impact on your gut!), so it makes sense to me that there might be an adjustment period.

  2. Debra Oliver
    July 6, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    My llmd just prescribed LDN to me, I am leery about taking it, since it’s not that common. I wanted to know how you are doing on it?

    Thanks,
    Debra

    • Danielle
      July 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Hi Debra,
      I decided to hold off on trying LDN for now as, when I stopped the antibiotics, I had to decide between trying a Rife machine or LDN (I didn’t want to do two big things at once or else I wouldn’t be able to tell what was doing what), and went with the Rife machine to start. I have a script for the LDN and it is on my list of things to try, so I most likely will. I should update this blog post! I wish I could give you some feedback on it, but all I can say is that some people I have spoken to with Lyme said it helped them a lot, and others said it took a while before they felt an improvement on it, and still others said they didn’t notice much at all either way.

      • August 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

        My 16 yr. old son has been on 4.5 mg of LDN for 6 weeks. He didn’t have any change in his sleep at all. So far, his ueacrltive colitis is unchanged maybe in somewhat of a flare right now. I’m not sure why. *sigh* We’ve been on SCD for 8 months. We did the intro for about 2 days and then jumped in because he was on prednisone at the time and super hungry. I keep wondering if we should go back to the intro. diet and start over, but holidays are here. Just keep thinking in time he will get better. The first 30 days his LDN was compounded with acidophilus, but we changed pharmacies due to insurance coverage and now it is compounded with cellulose. Please keep us posted if you see the LDN working for good for you!!

      • August 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm

        Thank you for the reply Damion. Compared to many psoraisis srueffers, mine would also be considered mild in that I don’t have any large patches of it anywhere, and never have. Rather I have the paint spots here and there and have had the patches on my elbows and knees since I was 14, and also some on my back. Funny though I was thinking about a period of my life that was extremely stressful 2 years after diagnosis and I had been symptom free for 24 months, psoraisis was clear as well. Usually stress will devastate me I can be in the bathroom within minutes of an extreme upset. And yet I had no health issues, though I should have had them. The only thing I was doing differently was going to a tanning bed for UVB and I went for 30 minute sessions 3-4 times a week. I honestly believe that Vitamin D3 has a profound impact on autoimmune diseases. My practitioner is checking me for low thyroid as well, and I suspect I will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism on some level, and think I’ve had it for many years. Tests showed I was in normal range though, and my doctors just rolled their eyes at me. My new practitioner tells me that unless the numbers are in a mid range then you are bound to have problems. Plus she is testing antibodies and many tests that aren’t in the standard battery of tests for hypo/hyperthyroidism. I bring this up for anyone reading who may suspect the same.Very interesting what you say about the 1.5 mgs of LDN versus what I began taking. It may be that I was so insistent on starting the LDN since I had taken a month of Entocort and then stopped abruptly (shouldn’t have in retrospect but too late now) and I didn’t want to go backwards with no meds except sulfazine. I take the LDN at 9pm and have been up once every night middle of the night with cramps and a bathroom visit. The first night it was 11:45 and then last night/this morning it was 4am. Otherwise I have no issues during the day. So I’m not sure what that’s all about because even when I’m in a severe relapse I don’t have to get up in the night until I’m critical.Anyway, sorry I’m blathering. I think it’s just nice to have a forum where someone understands all of this. My husband is wonderful but he gets so frustrated, and I know he gets sick of it just as I do. I’ll update on my progress with LDN. I really wish more people knew about this medication.

  3. Nicole
    April 23, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    I take LDN for MS and it works wonders for me. I simply asked my dr. at the Cleveland Clinic about prescribing it to me and she said it will either work or do nothing. If I understand the side effects of LDN are none. I would not hold off on trying it if you do not have to because it pretty much works within the first couple days!

    • Danielle
      April 23, 2012 at 6:21 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with LDN! So glad to hear it is helping you. :)

      Best in health,
      Danielle

  4. May 22, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    I’ve had Lyme symptoms for 5+ years, and just tested positive with Igenex Western Blots. I’ve been on LDN for 2 1/2 yrs for symptoms of fibro. My initial response to LDN was phenomenal, and my doctor attributes my high CD57 and C4a, as well as low sedimentation rate to LDN.

    I have another friend with a very similar situation. Before LDN we were drooling coach potatoes. IMHO, if you have Lyme, do not hesitate to start LDN. Your immune system will benefit immensely. You’ll find lot of support for learning the nuisances of getting started on FB or in Yahoo groups. LDN is one of the most effective and cheapest treatments available. Watch the video at http://www.LDNscinece.org to see how it works.

    • August 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      I’ve also wondered many times over the four years I’ve had ndph if it was Lyme.. Living in rural PA it woduln’t be at all out of the ordinary! It’s very frustrating how the test results work, they seem so useless! I also have a lot of other symptoms. I once completed a Lyme symptom checklist that was several pages long and I checked off at least 75% of the symptoms. I have had no results with the doxy, indomethacin, or acyclovir that I took for headaches and are also indicated for Lyme but I’m still far from convinced I don’t actually have it. I just wanted to tell you how hopeful I am that you are on the road to recovery. I’m sure there is some fear in a new diagnosis.. You’ve learned to live with ndph but now things have been turned upside down and you’ve got something new to accept! And even after years of pain its impossible to be patient with the slow progress of your new treatment, not to mention the new addition of side effects of this treatment! I really wanted to encourage you to add some probiotics to your regimen. Short courses of antibiotics can really throw off all your body’s systems and for Lyme you’ve got to do long term big doses and it can really mess up your digestion and your immune system among other things. I’d just hate for you to get some other illness to have to fight too.. Minor or major, I know you just don’t need any more problems! I don’t know if your Lyme dr can help you with choosing something to build the good bacteria but I could definitely send contact info for a good friend of mine who is really educated in holistic medicine and natural living if you’d like. Antibiotics kill everything and people don’t always realize there’s good and bad bacteria. Good luck to you! One day at a time!

    • August 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Amy I am glad things are going in the right diirtceon! I finally found myself an llmd and started doxy a couple of weeks ago no reaction, except possibly a week into which may or may not be after trying the a couple supplements i maybe shouldnt have. I havent had any crazy herx, and my headaches havent diminished, in fact, i was going through my happy part of my month where i get a few days of little to no headaches (still take topamax) but this time it was a particularly long span so i was reluctant to start abx. But i see her again in a couple weeks so im just crossing my fingers that it just takes time and im not the lone few that doesnt get better. i actually only tested positive for babesia and bart on an IGG elisa so im still in that stage of what if it is not, but she told me i wouldnt just have that in my blood. Anyway, i wish you the best and please keep us updated! And for sure take those probiotics! I’m upping to 60 billion because i’ve never been so carb/sugar crazy in my life

  5. Jessica
    July 26, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I went on LDN before being diagnosed with Lyme also. I happen to be trying to conceive at the time and the doctor told me that my body was attacking itself and if I didn’t take it that I would get cancer. He also said it would help me to conceive. I tried it for 6 weeks and I could not bear the profuse sweating. I would wake up completely drenched and smelly. I usually run on the cold side and am not a sweater nor do I tend to have body odor. I took myself off of it despite my doctor pleading with me to “stick it out for a little while longer” and felt better after a week (meaning the sweating subsided). I do not remember it making me feel any better at all. And in fact, my periods never came back after that.

    • August 3, 2014 at 1:43 am

      Hi Venus! I don’t know how your fond my blog either, but I’m glad you did. Thanks for your conmemt. It sounds like you’ve got a lot to think about right now. I had a few thoughts while reading your conmemt. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that if you’re seeing a traditional, Western MD, you’re going to have a difficult time getting them to buy into the idea of LDN as a therapy for IBD. you’ll probably need to find an MD that specializes in natural and holistic therapies, or a naturopathic doctor (ND). This use of naltrexone is not sanctioned by the FDA, so a lot of MDs poo-poo it. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s no magic bullet There are no magic bullets. I know that, for me, it’s been an effective tool for helping to keep my disease in remission, along with diet and lifestyle. I don’t know how effective it is in treating active disease. That would be something you’d want to talk to a health care provider about.I haven’t done a lot of research yet on tsybari, but as I understand it, it’s very similar to remicade, falling under the biologic category. It’s pretty new and I haven’t heard from anybody that’s used it.Have you looked into dietary changes? If you’ve read much of this blog, then you probably know that I’m a strong proponent of using the Specific Carbohydrate Diet to tame and control IBD. There’s a huge community of SCD’ers out there with lots of support, recipes and ideas. Good luck, Venus. I wish you and your son all the best.

    • August 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

      Hi Josh. Thanks for asking I didn’t reziale how long it had been since I’d posted anything about LDN! Overall, I’m pleased with the results. My sleep has been erratic lately though, so I’m considering asking my Dr. to reduce the dosage to see if that helps. I feel it’s been a key ingredient in maintaining my remission. To answer your other questions I started taking LDN shortly after a surgically-induced remission (a resection to remove all inflamed gut tissue). I didn’t even know I had Crohn’s until after the surgery, so I’ve been fortunate not to have to take any powerful meds yet. So far, I’ve been successful in maintaining my remission using SCD, LDN, and supplementation. If you’ve been following SCD for 3-4 months, then you should be just at the tipping point. It’s *very* common for folks to flare at the 3-4 month mark before moving into long-term remission. I hope you’re able to get off the steroids soon. Those are nasty drugs! Whether or not LDN will help induce remission for you, I can’t really say. I know that some people have found it useful in causing remission, while others, like me, have found it useful for maintaining it.

  6. August 3, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Hey Damion, It sucks to have such major sugery but I’m sure you feel so much beettr for it. I’m about to get surgery done for a enterovesical fistula from my crohns. The SCD diet has helped all my crohn’s symptoms but its just the damned fistula that won’t heal.Any advice you can give on recovery would be more then welcome.i believe how you look at a situation is very important. I might be suffering from pains of crohns but I believe I’m much healthier and beettr for it and in turn my children in the future will be beettr for it as well as others that can learn from my experiences. I believe there is always someone worse off out there (Kony 2012 for example) and appreicate everyday and love life.Theres no point in being depressed about my condition or looking at it with a negative slant. Thats not to say I don’t have my bad days but It only stresses me out more to feel so negative.Onwards and Upwards I say. Stephen

  7. August 4, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Had forgotten the sarotenin aspect. And also it probably didn’t help that I quit the Entocort so abruptly. As to pharma, and big pharma, I’m really thankful that I think outside the box. The doctors hate it of course. In 1992 I was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis by a very respected and tenured ENT who did surgery biopsy was negative for Wegener’s but, well, he thought I had it anyway. IOW he was too lazy to look any further, and so referred me to a rheum. who put me on Septra DS for THREE years. Until I told my then HMO that I didn’t have this disease and wanted a diagnosis from Duke. I didn’t have it. But is it any wonder that in 2002 I was in hospital with an IBD? My point being that my GI, though he’s a very nice human, will not be around in 5-10-15 years to care about all the horrific side effects of steroids on my body. In fact he doesn’t acknowledge any connection NOW with side effects that are likely from high dose prednisone in 2002. As to the constipation I don’t even know what that would be like. A happy medium would be nice, wouldn’t it?

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