For patients battling life with an autoimmune disease, low-dose naltrexone may offer new hope.
Estimates indicate that there are at least 80 known autoimmune diseases (AID) that have been identified by the NIH and that anywhere from 30-50 million Americans are currently living with one. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, thyroid disease, Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis; the list is lengthy and it doesn’t appear to be getting any shorter.
The process of an initial autoimmune diagnosis can be challenging and frustrating. What about living with the condition? That can be just as taxing. Many AIDs are misunderstood. Medications and treatments can be hard on the body and come with a longer list of side effects than the original symptoms. It’s not surprising then, that both patients with AID and their providers are eager for treatments that will offer relief with few side effects. For many, a promising option has been found in an unlikely place: an opiate antagonist.
What is naltrexone?
Chemically, naltrexone consists of two isomers in a 50:50 ratio with one binding to immune cells and the other binding to opioid cells. Naltrexone works by blocking the biological response of opiate receptors, produced by the brain and adrenal glands. For individuals struggling with opiate dependence, the full-dose medication prevents common opiate effects such as the sensation of well-being and pain-relief while minimizing the desire to take opiates. It has also been used in conjunction with other treatment methods for individuals struggling with alcohol dependence.
What is low-dose naltrexone (LDN)?
LDN (0.5mg – 4.5mg), has the same mechanism of action as naltrexone but is dosed lower to yield specific effects on the immune system. Dosing naltrexone higher (50-300mg) negates the immunomodulatory effect by inundating receptors. LDN has been used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases in the USA since 1985 as part of a method developed by Dr. Bernard Behiai, M.D. (Internal Medicine, Psychiatry and Neurology)
What is the mechanism of action of LDN?*
- An up-regulation of endorphins to help modulate the immune system response
- Modulation of unwanted cell proliferation
- An increase in the production of endogenous opioid peptides which can help promote healing and reduce inflammation
- Low-dose naltrexone binds to toll-like receptors (TLR) to inhibit proinflammatory cytokines and antagonizes the production of NF-kB to help reduce inflammation
*Research by Dr. Sakina Davis, LDN Research Trust
What are the benefits of LDN for patients with an autoimmune disease?
An improvement in symptoms:
A growing body of research has shown remarkable and wide-ranging positive symptom relief for patients with autoimmune disease including for chronic pain, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, and post-Lyme’s arthritis.
LDN treatment is often recommended as part of an integrated treatment plan combining nutritional changes, supplements and micronutrient support as in case studies conducted by Dr. Sakina Davis. Davis’ multi-phasic protocol resulted in a middle-aged female patient suffering from Hashimoto’s disease who saw her thyroid antibody levels decreased from 30 to 21 after started LDN dosing with improvements in mood, energy levels, and weight.
Minimal side effects:
Just as important as relief from the autoimmune disease itself is relief from the miserable side effects that come from the medications that are commonly prescribed such as baclofen or glatiramer acetate for MS or Humira® (adalimumab) and steroids for arthritis. What may be most encouraging about LDN is that the treatment is seen to be well-tolerated with few reported side effects.
Compounded low-dose naltrexone: where to buy and what we offer:
Low-dose naltrexone must always be compounded as the lowest commercial dose is 50mg. The compounded medication has the benefit of offering prescribers and patients the opportunity to customize dose and route of administration. At VLS Pharmacy, we offer options for various conditions treated with LDN:
- Capsules & Sublingual Troches 0.5 – 4.5 mg
- Topical Creams & Gels
- Nasal Spray
- Vaginal Gel & Cream
VLS Pharmacy is a proud member of the LDN Research Trust, a non-profit organization that is doing important work to raise awareness about low-dose naltrexone treatment for auto-immune disease and cancer and raising funds for investing in LDN clinical trials.
IMPORTANT: We try to ensure that all information is accurate and correct but cannot be held responsible for typos or grammatical errors. This information does not replace medical advice from a licensed professional.