Low Dose Naltrexone: A Promising Option

Low Dose Naltrexone

From time to time, new applications are found for medications used to treat specific conditions. Naltrexone is normally prescribed at a dose ranging from 50-300mg to prevent opioid and alcohol use in addicted individuals. Known as an “opioid antagonist”, naltrexone works in the brain by blocking the effects of these substances and decreasing the desire to take them. Since the late 1970’s naltrexone has been studied at varying doses and newer applications show promise for very different uses for the drug. At extremely low doses ranging from just 1.75-4mg, this LDN or low dose naltrexone, has been shown to have a wide range of health benefits useful for conditions including various types of cancers, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), IBS, emphysema, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases that can be treated by an autoimmune disease specialist in NYC.

How does it work?

LDN is best taken at night before bed. During sleep, it begins blocking opioid receptors as well as receptors of endorphins. Endorphins are opiate-like chemicals best known as the “feel good” substances the body makes after exercise. The word endorphin actually comes from 2 words: endogenous (made within the body) and morphine. Endorphins are known to block pain, are very involved with immune function and rapid cell reproduction, particularly an endorphin called Opioid Growth Factor (OGF) or Met-Enkephalin. When these receptors are blocked for a short period, the body responds by creating more receptors, increasing their sensitivity and thus making more endorphins. Once the LDN wares off, a “rebound effect” is experienced in which the amount of available OGF and its utilization is greatly enhanced having a very positive effect on immunity. It is believed, LDN can work for many different conditions, all of which are affected by immune function and tend to lead to lower levels of endorphin release.

Some of the most promising research has centered on the effects of LDN and cancer. Studies find, LDN inhibits proliferation of cancer cells and reduces tumor growth by targeting these signaling pathways and changing the immune system. Further research has found it potentiates chemotherapy drugs helping them to work better. This is an incredible breakthrough bringing hope to patients for enhanced treatment strategies.  

Additionally, LDN is very useful as a prokinetic, helping the intestine to regain its natural ability to contract, mix and move food through its length. In cases of low thyroid, it’s common for intestinal movements to slow down causing bowel issues like constipation or diarrhea, gas, bloating, GERD, bacterial overgrowth and abdominal pain. For these patients, LDN can help them to resume a normal flow.

While LDN research is still underway, we currently see many possible and exciting uses for this medication.  In MS trials, patients reported seeing a decrease in symptoms within the first few days of use. Not only is LDN effective, it is fast acting and has extremely low incidence of side effects. Some patients report very vivid dreams while others have some insomnia for the first week of use. Overall, LDN may be a beneficial treatment for many different conditions.

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