Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is currently under study in patients with various types of chronic pain including migraines, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy. Other chronic pain states, various types of cancers, and autoimmune related disorders are also being studied. While these studies are underway, it is used widely in the U.S. for a variety of pain related disorders and autoimmune conditions.
Studies Show Low Dose Naltrexone is Safe.
Current studies show that Low Dose Naltrexone is a safe, cost effective yet effective treatment for chronic pain and autoimmunity. It is believed that LDN works in the brain by reducing pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which are known to inflame and sensitize various tissues that can cause pain.
By down regulating inflammation in the nervous system, it reduces pain, improves fatigue, sleep, and mood as well as physical function.
Differences Between Lose Dose and High Dose Naltrexone
Low Dose Naltrexone as opposed to High Dose Naltrexone is still considered investigational with the FDA. High Dose Naltrexone (50 mg), on the other hand, has been FDA approved for the treatment of drug and alcohol abuse/addiction and withdrawal for many years.
Low Dose Naltrexone is generic and is a cost effective TX. LDN does have to be compounded at a special pharmacy as it is currently only available at regular pharmacies in the 50 mg dose.
While higher dose Naltrexone has been used for many years to treat various forms of addiction, there is currently no stigma of addiction associated with the use of lower dosage. The quoted price of compounded LDN runs around $50 per month.
Beneficial for Treating Cancer and Other Conditions.
Low Dose Naltrexone has also been shown in various cancer studies to possibly effect immune function by impacting gene expression. It has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of brain and nervous system disorders including MS, ALS, and Parkinson’s.
This prescription medication is not addicting. It should be used with caution in patients currently taking opioids, including Tramadol. It works by blocking opioid receptors throughout the body for three to four to five hours. To avoid drug interactions, opioid pain RX should be discontinued or reduced approximately one week before starting this medication. This will be assessed on an individual basis.
The starting dose is 0.5 to 1.0 mg at bedtime and is gradually increased up to a target dose of 4.0 – 4.5 mg at bedtime. You will be started on 1.0 mg at bedtime and every thirty days you will increase by 1.0 mg until you feel relief up to a maximum dose 4.0 mg nightly.
Naltrexone Side Effects
Side effects of Low Dose Naltrexone are very rare. People sometimes report having vivid dreams in the first week or two of treatment. Very rare side effects include fatigue, anxiety, and dizziness. Side effects are much more common at the higher doses (greater than 10 times the lower dosage) used to treat addiction and are rarely seen with typical low dosages.
People with organ transplants and those who are immunosuppressive drugs may want to avoid LDN. Additionally, people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis should also use this medication with caution as they may have to adjust their thyroid supplement often in the early stage of treatment.