Alternative Treatments: Low Dose Naltrexone

We’re continuing with the alternative treatments portion of my MS Monday posts, and I will be discussing low-dose naltrexone next!
Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984 for opioid addiction treatment and then again in 1994 for alcohol dependency treatment. When someone is taking it at the full recommended dosage, naltrexone will block the effect of opioids and block the ability of someone to get high from the drugs.
When naltrexone was first developed, researchers started studying about its use in treating some autoimmune disorders. Researchers discovered that extremely low doses increased production of endorphins which increased energy levels and anti-inflammatory responses in the body. Researchers think that the treatment with LDN is similar to what happens to someone’s body during pregnancy. Where endorphin production will rise, and create a state of protection in the body. Researchers hope that LDN can help with many symptoms of MS including pain, spasticity, fatigue, cognitive issues and depression.
LDN seems to be a very promising treatment for MS (among other diseases). Unfortunately there are not many studies that have been done yet but hopefully that will be changed in the near future. Some results I did find where extremely promising. One study done in early 2000‘s by Dr. Bernard Bihari noted a 98 to 99% efficacy rate. These were very small studies on his own patients, but still very promising. However, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of LDN being a positive treatment as well.
One of the bigger positive attributes that I find to LDN is that it is relatively free of side effects. This is a component that is missing from many of the other treatments out there for multiple sclerosis. Another positive attribute is that it is fairly cost-effective as well, usually costing only as much as a routine co-pay. This is thanks to it being a generic drug and the fact that I cannot be patented, these help to keep costs down, but also a reason as to why there are a lack of studies.
Dosages for MS patients usually range from 1.5 to 4.5 mg per day. If you are someone that suffers from spasticity issues, you should not be taking more than 3 mg a day as it can contribute to more muscle spasms. LDN should be taken late at night which corresponds with your natural hormone release. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lack of side effects with this medication but the most commonly reported side effect is vivid dreams.
LDN is not meant to be a standalone medication for MS, rather it is meant to be complementary to a primary medication. Unfortunately, LDN interacts with many of the other disease modifying drugs on the market, including Avonex, Rebif and Betaseron. Also, if you have liver issues such as hepatitis, liver disease or cirrhosis, you should not take LDN. And it will obviously interact with any opiate-based medication, like Oxycontin, Vicodin and even cough medication that includes codeine.
LDN appears to be very promising complementary option for individuals with MS and other autoimmune diseases. What is your experience? Have you tried LDN? If so, I want to hear about it!