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Sjogrens Topics => Useful Links => Topic started by: 2shea on February 28, 2014, 11:11:06 PM

Title: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: 2shea on February 28, 2014, 11:11:06 PM

A Promising Autoimmune Disease Treatment that Your Doctor Is Not Sharing With You: Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

In the integrative health community, low dose naltrexone (LDN) has been hailed as a major breakthrough treatment for autoimmune disease and some forms of cancer.  It is a safe medication, with virtually no side effects for most individuals and it is shockingly inexpensive.  So, why hasn?t your doctor told you about this treatment?  Like other innovative alternative treatments, many conventional doctors either do not know about LDN or they choose to ignore its existence.  But despite the lack of attention that conventional medicine has bestowed on LDN, its reputation as an effective treatment for autoimmune disease is growing, to a large extent, due to patient demand.

At a full strength dose of 50mg, naltrexone is an opiate antagonist used in the treatment of alcohol and drug dependence.  It was originally approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 for the treatment of opioid addiction (heroin/opioid narcotics), but is more commonly used today in the treatment of alcoholism.  Naltrexone acts by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain to reduce cravings and inhibit the effects of the drugs or alcohol.

LDN therapy refers to the off-label use of naltrexone at low doses to treat diseases and conditions not related to substance abuse or dependency.  In 1985, Bernard Bihari, MD found that when naltrexone was taken at a low dose, it enhanced patients? immune response to HIV infection.  Within the next several years, Dr. Bihari found that LDN also benefited his patients with cancer, as well as certain types of autoimmune disease.  In 2007, Jill Smith, MD conducted the first published clinical trial using LDN to treat Crohn?s disease.  The study had promising results with 67% of the study participants going into remission and 89% experiencing a decrease in symptoms.  Since 2007, there have been a few other studies examining the efficacy of LDN in treating multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Crohn?s disease, and certain types of cancer, but anecdotal reports find LDN effective in the treatment of many other diseases as well.

LDN is believed to work by briefly blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, which leads to increased endorphin production.  The endorphins appear to play a central role in regulating the immune system, although the precise mechanism is still poorly understood.  In contrast to the conventional medications used to treat autoimmune disease, LDN works with the immune system in an attempt to restore balance and regulation, instead of suppressing the function of the immune system.  Although many more clinical trials are needed, LDN may be useful in the treatment of a wide variety of diseases that are related to immune system function.

At the low doses that are used in the treatment of autoimmune disease (typically 1.5 ? 4.5mg), LDN has minimal side effects.  The most frequently reported side effects are insomnia or difficulty staying asleep during the first few weeks of treatment.  Some people report a transitory increase in symptoms of their disease process, but all side effects will typically resolve after a few weeks of taking LDN.  There have been no clinical trials that have evaluated the long-term safety of LDN, but naltrexone itself has a long-term safety record.  Toxicity studies that were conducted in the early 1980s found that naltrexone would cause reversible liver changes only at doses greater than 300mg (on average, one hundred times the dose used in LDN therapy).

(to be continued in the following post)
Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: 2shea on February 28, 2014, 11:12:04 PM

With early clinical trials that show positive results in the treatment of autoimmune disease, the long safety record of the drug used at much higher doses, and minimal side effects, you would think that doctors would be jumping at the opportunity to prescribe LDN, especially since so many of the drugs used to treat autoimmune disease are toxic and have serious side effects.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.  Naltrexone has been on the market since 1984 and it is a cheap drug.  There is not a lot of money to be made in marketing LDN for the treatment of autoimmune disease, especially since its effectiveness could displace many significantly more profitable medications.  Many practicing physicians and other practitioners receive their continuing education from pharmaceutical companies and they are not likely to learn about LDN from the industry.  Some physicians are simply not willing to do their own research into alternative treatments.  Thus, the burden of educating practitioners about LDN often falls to the patient who is desperate to seek relief from symptoms.

If you have an autoimmune disease, proper real food nutrition and attention to other areas of your health (stress, exercise, sleep, social support, and environmental exposures) should be your top priorities.  However, if you are still experiencing continued symptoms despite making changes in these areas, LDN is a wonderful adjunct therapy that may give your immune system the boost that it needs.  Do not hesitate to mention the possibility of LDN therapy to your practitioner and share the research that has been done.  If your practitioner does not seem open to the possibility of LDN, continuing your search until you find one that does.
Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: RettaV on April 09, 2014, 07:28:41 PM
Thanks for bringing this up, 2Shea.
I happened to learn about LDN last summer, when I had just begun to suspect I may have SS. (The timing was too coinicidental to ignore!) I read and read and read everything I could find about it while waiting for my specialist appointments, testing, etc.
Then I had to search for a doctor in my state who prescribes it, and found one in a city about 45 miles from me who uses it a lot with MS patients and fibro. I started it a month ago and so far am hopeful. I was hoping for the immediate improvement some people report, but I'm gaining a bit more energy and brain power each day. Some of that could also be due to getting rid of a nasty candida infection and many dietary changes. But I've been mostly gluten and sugar free for quite some time and still had major issues with constipation. For the last week, I've not only gone every day, but sometimes two or three times in a day, and none of it liquid! Penn State and Stanford are both conducting long-term studies using LDN for Crohn's disease and fibro.
Happily, I've had none of the possible early side effects, such as sleep issues (in fact, I'm sleeping better than I have in a long time) and have gotten to know many people who use it, including some who have no health issues but believe in LDN's reported cancer-prohibiting (and in some cases curative) effects. I'm curious to see whether any of my bloodwork has improved when I have more done several months from now.
The theory behind its use is that, by tricking the brain into making more of its own feel-good hormones, the immune system is regulated and many immune and autoimmune conditions can be much improved if not driven into remission. And the way I see it, who couldn't benefit from more feel-good hormones running around in their brains, sick or not?
For anyone who's curious or wants credible, detailed information about LDN, there's a book called "The Promise of LDN," by Elaine Moore, a research scientist and medical writer/publisher. I found a free pdf version of it on one of the SS Facebook pages I've joined.
Gosh, it feels good to be on here again. I've been MIA for a couple of weeks because of travel for work, a very sick dog that we had to put to sleep, and recovering from both of those.
I've missed you all!
Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: litliwlowa on April 10, 2014, 03:11:19 AM
Hmmmm, here is what Science Daily had to say in 2011:

Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: RettaV on April 10, 2014, 08:05:46 PM
Thanks for the link, litlilowla (hope I spelled that right!)
I'm going to print it out and add it to the arsenal of info I plan to take to my rheumy when I see him next month. He doesn't know much about it and wouldn't prescribe it, but said he wouldn't refuse to see me if I got it from another doc, which I have.
Good night to all, and sweet dreams.
Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: machenza on April 18, 2014, 10:44:26 PM
I read about that treatment because of a friend of mine with MS months before my SICCA appeared. It does sound interesting because we all know that Sjo hits our nerves and neuro-responses.   However the catch is with how your immunity system will react to it. As I am still "fresh" in my development of Sjo would I try that? I would. However there is a chance to make you even dryer. I would not mind the dreams tho...LOL

Jokes apart, for someone who can manage pain in other ways, and is feeling adventurous it is not impossible to try. I already know where one can get it from if it is not available from doctors just in case. (I guess being overseas could be a good thin at times)

Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: RettaV on April 20, 2014, 12:32:43 PM
Stanford is studying LDN for use in fibro and Penn State is doing trials for Crohn's disease. The theory is that it works by regulating the immune system. It's not a painkiller or muscle relaxer or anything like that. It blocks opioid receptors in the brain for a while after taking it, and then there's a "rebound" effect that floods the brain with your own endorphins and other feel-good hormones, which is the best kind of painkiller there is. I'm taking only half the recommended "ideal" dose but am seeing steady improvement in my energy levels and, even better, my mood swings. I'm anxious to see whether those changes result in blood-work changes.  But I don't much care what my antibodies say as long as I'm feeling a bit more human. :)
Title: Re: Autoimmune disease treatment - Low dose naltrexone
Post by: warmwaters on October 12, 2014, 08:59:06 PM
One more story: I have been taking LDN for about a year now. I take 3 mg about 1 hour before bedtime. For me, it reduces muscle pain and some large joint pain. 

It's not cheap, and my insurance doesn't cover it, but it does help.