In recent years, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has become a popular and efficacious treatment for autoimmune issues, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, psychiatric issues, and more.
What is LDN?
As the name implies, LDN is a low dose of the medication naltrexone that was originally approved by the FDA in normal doses ranging from 50mg- 100mg to treat drug and alcohol addiction by blocking the reception of opioid hormones.
There is some data to suggest that administering naltrexone in extremely low doses (1.5mg- 4.5mg) offers a variety of therapeutic effects.
How Does LDN Work?
LDN works in several different ways:
- It reduces inflammation and helps treat neurodegenerative diseases by blocking TLR 4 (toll-like receptor 4) which is part of the NF-kB pathway which ultimately leads to the reduction in inflammatory cytokines produced by WBCs in the blood and microglia in the brain
- It increases endogenous opioid receptor hormones known as endorphins. This is achieved by LDN stimulating to the OGF receptor (opioid growth factor).
- It increases the effectiveness of endogenous endorphins. Not only does LDN increase the level of endorphins it also increases the number of receptors to it by using the body’s innate ability to compensate for the blocking of the u-opioid receptors. As a result, LDN has an increased ability to respond to the endorphins produced by the body thus increasing its ability to reduce chronic pain including reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
- Furthermore, the OGF receptor stimulates the p16 pathway which helps with the suppression of erroneous cell growth and aids in the body’s fight against cancer.
What Can LDN Treat?
- Autoimmune Issues: People who suffer from autoimmune disorders have overactive immune systems. LDN has been shown to calm overactive immunity in Crohn’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Ulcerative Colitis patients by reducing the intensity at which the immune system attacks, decreasing overall inflammation and autoimmunity. LDN does this by blocking specific receptors on white blood cells that can cause excessive immune function.
- Chronic Pain: If you’re someone who suffers from chronic pain, you know how difficult it can be to carry out even basic tasks. LDN can reduce pain by making those feel-good hormones we know as endorphins more effective. It does this by stimulating the body to increase the number of receptors for the endorphins to act on. LDN has been shown to decrease symptoms in Fibromyalgia patients.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: In a pre-clinical study done on 42 patients who suffered from IBS, ALL participants reported a 76% improvement in the number of pain-free days and overall symptom relief after taking LDN. The mechanism of how LDN works on IBS is similar to that of chronic pain patients because interestingly those same endorphin receptors exist in the gut!
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease: The two main types of IBD are Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Roughly 30% of IBD patients are refractory to IBD drugs. LDN can provide an effective, safe, and easily accessible treatment for patients who suffer from this disease and has been shown to directly improve epithelial barrier function by reducing mucosal ER stress levels and increasing wound healing.
- Psychiatric Issues: LDN has been shown to improve symptoms related to autism and depression and plays a role in promoting stress resilience, exercise, social bonding, and emotional well-being. It does this by positively impacting the brain’s neurochemistry and improving immune function.
Dosage and Side Effects
LDN is a prescription drug that is taken once a day at bedtime. Most people start by taking 1.5mg then building up to 4.5mg per day. It’s important to avoid taking it with narcotic medication since it can cause withdrawal. The main side effects are possible insomnia, weird dreams, and nausea. These symptoms usually resolve within the first several days of taking LDN.
If you’re interested in learning more about low-dose naltrexone to help with your symptoms, you can book an appointment with me and together we can discuss your health issues and goals!