Articles by Dr. Arnold

Articles by Dr. Arnold

Small RhombusHealth articles by Dr. Fred Arnold focus on prolotherapy, pain rehabilitation and natural healing.

Articles by Dr. Fred Arnold

Dr. Fred Arnold

FACT SHEET: LOW DOSE NALTREXONE (LDN)

BY FRED G. ARNOLD, NMD

Naltrexone has been FDA-approved for the treatment of alcoholism since 1994. It belongs to a class of drugs called opiate antagonist, a relatively new class of medicines. Naltrexone is a drug that binds to and inhibits opiate receptors, reducing pain by targeting the same receptors that respond to morphine, heroine, and other opioids. For decades, doses of 50 mg have been used to help treat patients with alcohol and heroine addictions. In just the last 20 years researchers have discovered the low doses of naltrexone (LDN), 0.5 -4.5mg, can reduce pain and profoundly affect the immune system.

HOW DOES LDN WORK?
LDN works by boosting endorphins, the chemicals produced in the brain and adrenal glands that relieve pain, modulate the immune system and produce a feeling of wellbeing. Research has shown the LDN attaches to the opioid receptors, temporarily blocking endorphin attachment. By blocking the endorphin receptors for a short period of time, the body increases it endorphin production and produces the pain-relieving and immune system modulating effects. The anti-inflammatory response to due to the decrease in pro-inflammatory cytokines. Endorphins have a positive effect on the immune system by increasing T-helper and natural cells which is why is can be helpful with some cancers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONDITIONS LDN IS USED FOR?
There are a number of conditions where LDN could benefit based on clinical studies:

ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
Autism
Autoimmune Conditions
Cancer
Celiac Disease
Chronic Fatigue
Chronic Pain
Crohn’s Disease
Depression
Endometriosis
Emphysema (COPD)
Fibromyalgia
Gastrointestinal conditions
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
HIV/AIDS
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (UC)
Lupus
Multiple sclerosis
Psoriasis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Sarcoidosis
Scleroderma
Thyroid Disorders (Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis)

LDN has also been shown to improve mood, improve sleep, and decrease methylation damage to DNA (this is the key to many disease processes)

SIDE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH LDN
LDN has virtually no potential for causing harm. However, the following potential side effects have been noted:

  • Nightmares, insomnia and vivid dreams during the initial phase
  • Stomach cramps/diarrhea, transitory up to 2 weeks usually
  • Headache, during the initial phase only
  • Hyperthyroidism, can come on very quickly if concurrent with Hashimoto's disease
  • Shiver, chills, flu-like symptoms: most common in myologic encephalomyelitis (ME), and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients
  • Constipation and/or diarrhea: occurs infrequent. More common in irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Agitation or dizziness: occurs very infrequent
  • Elevated liver enzymes: occurs very infrequent. Usually when the patient has late-stage liver failure.
  • Reductions in renal function: extremely rare

Most side effects are during the initial use of LDN. Should any side effects occur, the dosage of LDN should be reduced.

CONTRAINDICATIONS
LDN should not be taken with narcotics for it can stop opiate pain killers from working entirely for a short period of time and has been known to cause immediate withdrawal symptoms, even hospitalization. Patients who have become dependent 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 naltrexone safely.

If you have to take an opioid while taking LDN, you need to stop LDN 2 days before starting LDN.

HOW DOES LDN WORK FOR CANCER?
Cells growth is affected by a subtype of endorphins; cell proliferation can be suppressed by endorphins and this is applicable to some forms of cancer

LOW DOSE NALTREXONE DOSAGES
LDN dosages normally ranges from 1 - 4.5 milligrams compared to higher dosages of 400 mg used to treat drug related conditions. These low dosages have been shown to increase endorphin levels by two to three hundred percent.

Underweight individuals or those people with muscle wasting will require 0.5-1.5mg less than a healthy individual.

DOSING WITH CREAMS AND GELS
With patients who have gastric problems that affect absorption such as Crohn's or ulcerative Colitis LDN may do better with creams or gels.

HOW SOME DOES SOMEONE SEE A CHANGE IN THEIR CONDITION WHEN THEY TAKE LDN?
Some people may see a change in a few days and someone else may not see an improvement for a few months.

HOW LONG CAN SOMEONE BE ON LDN?
Apparently LDN can be taken indefinitely. To date, no long-term consequences have been noted with LDN.

CAN LDN BE TAKEN AS A PREVENTATIVE MEDICINE?
Yes, and the dosage would be 3mg taken every other day to keep the system up regulated.

WHEN SHOULD LDN BE GIVEN?
LDN is taken either in the evening or in the morning. Some people report a short period of sleep disturbance with vivid dreams with LDN during the first two weeks. To avoid this, LDN could be taken in the morning.

CONCLUSION:
LDN is an exciting treatment that has been shown to effectively treat a wide variety of health conditions. LDN modulates the basic mechanisms that result in disease rather than treat symptoms like other drugs. The actions of LDN are anti-inflammatory, immune modulating and pain reducing. Any side effects are normally during the initial phase of LDN and no significant long-term side effects have been identified. LDN is inexpensive and shows promising results in multiple clinical trials. Research shows that the benefits of LDN is vastly underutilized.

REFERENCES:

  1. Brown N. Pandseep J. Low -dose naltrexone for disease prevention and quality of like. Med Hypotheses. 2009. 72:333-337.
  2. Elsegood, Linda, The LDN Book, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont, pp. 21-22.
  3. Global Medicine Review, Dr. Kama B. Kokayi, Interviews Dr. Bihari September 23, 2003 WBAI in New York City http://www.Low-Dose-Naltrexone.org/gazorpa/interview.html
  4. LDNScience – What is LDN Used for? http://www.Idnscience.org/org/low-dose-naltrexone/what-is-ldn-used-for. Accessed February 23, 2015
  5. Low-Dose Naltrexone, A Novel Therapy for a Broad Range of Conditions. The Healthy Choice Compounding Pharmacy.