Low dose naltrexone or LDN is the prescription medication that every doctor has heard of but never prescribes. Regular naltrexone (not low dose) is used for heroin addicts, alcoholics, and opiate withdrawal. I think that’s why doctors don’t really think about it, it’s for people with drug addiction. That said, the low dose version of the same drug has undeniable applications for autoimmune conditions, chronic infections, and pain syndromes. Consider it an affordable adjunct especially because Remicade, Imuran, prednisone, and other immune drugs come with hefty side effects and outrageous price tags.
Low Dose Naltrexone has two functions in your body:
1) It helps you tolerate yourself.
2) Reduces inflammation in your nervous system.
Let’s explore both these functions, one by one:
1) Low Dose Naltrexone helps you tolerate yourself:
Let’s start with #1, tolerating yourself. Even if you can’t tolerate your annoying brother, you still need to tolerate yourself! I’m being facetious, but seriously, you must have the ability to tolerate yourself, otherwise, your immune cells attack you. We call that an autoimmune disorder, and it means you’ve lost self-tolerance. Think of rheumatoid, Hashimoto’s, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and others. When you take Low Dose Naltrexone, you better tolerate “self.” It happens because LDN turns on “T regulatory” cells and those smack down your immune system. So yeah, forget everyone else, tolerate yourself first, if you want to have good health. Your T reg cells help you do that.
T reg cells have their own job which is to make sure that inflammatory chemicals are secreted appropriately to help you when injured and then to stop that inflammation after you’re healed. If you don’t stop the production of inflammatory chemicals (termed cytokines), then your body starts attacking everything in sight, pollen, dander, mold, dust mites (then you lose self-tolerance) now it’s attacking your thyroid, your joints, adrenals, heart or myelin sheath around nerve endings. I covered this in my book, Thyroid Healthy which is sold at my shop, and also on Amazon. Regardless, low dose naltrexone acts as a referee and blows the whistle on the self-directed autoimmune attack.
2) Low Dose Naltrexone Reduces inflammation in your nervous system:
Now, #2 on my list is how LDN reduces inflammation in your nervous system. This is a huge advantage if you suffer from thyroid disease, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, Lyme, or neuropathic pain. Several papers written on this topic have shown that LDN blocks microglia in your central nervous system. These microglia are just immune cells in your brain and spinal cord that, when hyperactive, produce pain-causing chemicals, fatigue, unstable mood, insomnia, and cognitive dysfunction. To your microglia, LDN feels like a cold compress does to a sunburn.
Don’t Take LDN if You Have These 14 Illnesses:
If you have any of the following conditions, I urge you to ask your physician if you can try some Low Dose Naltrexone for a few months at a very low dose, and gauge response:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Celiac (sometimes hair loss is associated with this – read more HERE)
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Graves’ hyperthyroidism
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Lupus (SLE systemic lupus erethematosus)
- Ménière’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease.
Here is How Low Dose Naltrexone Works on Endorphins:
Low Dose Naltrexone works by blocking receptors on your cells that allow natural endorphins in. Endorphins are compounds you make when you feel good, eat chocolate, experience a runner’s high, or have sex.
Endorphins increase your pain threshold.
You want them inside the cell. With LDN blocking the cells, they become short on endorphins and send a chemical signal to your brain to say, “Hey, crank out more endorphins because I have none!” Your body generates more endorphins in response to the perceived deficiency.
You probably get more endorphins at that moment, than a Black Friday sale at DSW!
Emerging studies regarding dosage suggest that lower is better, such as 1 to 3mg at bedtime. Side effects are minimal and may include vivid dreaming or sleep disturbance which improves if you reduce the dose or take it during the day. As a pharmacist, this medicine is one of my all-time favorite drugs because it has few if any serious side effects. Remember, it is a prescription so your doctor has to call it into a compounding pharmacy, I get notes all the time from irritated people who say “My doctor called Walnuts pharmacy and they said they don’t have it” or “Have Suzy call me and explain how to get 1.5mg out of a 50mg tablet!”
Right, lol, that would be a big mistake! I’m not recommending you ever have a conventional pharmacy attempt to make this for you out of their 50mg tablets (standard for people using it for narcotic withdrawal) or from their injectable suspensions. No, I’m referring to the type of LOW DOSE naltrexone that is mixed up at professional, inspected awesome compounding pharmacies every day!
How To Find a Pharmacy That Compounds Low Dose Naltrexone:
Low Dose Naltrexone is compounded all the time, every day at pharmacies that specialize in making teeny weeny doses of it (and those are the types of doses you want since you are obviously NOT a crack addict!)
Of course, retail pharmacies don’t have it! I said this has to be called into a compounding pharmacy, so look in your phone book (do they even print those anymore?) or Google it online. Do like I do, and ask Siri she’ll find you a compounding pharmacy. I just tried it on my iPhone and she found 3 of them near Denver and Boulder. Many compounding pharmacies can ship LDN to your home, so if there isn’t one in your city don’t give up. Low Dose Naltrexone is shipped all over the country, every day! If you enter your zip code at the website for The Alliance for Pharmacy Compounding it will find your local compounding pharmacies.
The dosage starts at around 1.5mg taken once at bedtime. Vivid dreams can occur as you titrate upwards to 3 or 4.5mg. While some disagree with me, I feel that taking it in the daytime is okay if you can’t tolerate it at night, like … if you get nightmares or insomnia. Then in that case I would definitely take it in the morning, and also I recommend you stay at the lower dose, like approximately 1.5 milligrams.
LowDoseNaltrexone is a great website that has a lot of information for those of you who want to delve deeper. It is a great place to start if you haven’t ever taken LDN before. It answers to all your questions since I can’t answer all of you personally!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.