I’m often asked about Low Dose Naltrexone. These days it is used to treat everything from autoimmune disorders and cancer, to fertility and autism. I have been taking 5 mg daily of this off-label, somewhat experimental drug since approximately 2005.
How did I find out about Low Dose Naltrexone or LDN? On one of my regular visits to my mild-mannered functional medicine doctor he thrust a prescription for this drug into my hand. A month later my naturopath recommended LDN to me and I decided it was worth a try.
Many food blogs preach healing with food, and food alone. I’m here to tell you that when you feel sick the best thing you can do is listen to your body and do whatever it takes to feel good again. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Getting well is a process without any rules.
I take LDN as part of my treatment plan for multiple sclerosis. I was diagnosed with MS in 2006 and was absolutely devastated when I received the news. While I have chosen not to take the drugs that are recommended as standard care for MS, I have quite a lot of friends who do, and I respect their choice. However, the issue with many of the typical MS drugs is their side effects. Some leave you with flu-like symptoms that can be as bad as the symptoms of MS. In any event, LDN is optimal for me as I do not experience side effects from it, and from what I have read in the medical literature, most people find this to be the case.
What is Low Dose Naltrexone? First, let’s take a look at what I facetiously refer to as “high dose,” naltrexone, or the more traditional form of this drug. Naltrexone is an opiod antagonist typically given to heroin addicts in doses of up to 1500 mg upon their arrival in the emergency room. Giving this type of dose of naltrexone to a person under the influence of heroin snaps them into lucidity in minutes because naltrexone binds to the opiate receptors of the brain –the same receptors to which heroin binds. This prevents the addict from experiencing the effects of the heroin, and leads to complete lucidity.
According to the website lowdosenaltrexone.org, In 1985, a physician named Dr. Bernard Bihari discovered the effects of a much smaller dose of naltrexone (approximately 3mg once a day) on the body’s immune system. He found that this low dose, taken at bedtime, was able to enhance a patient’s response to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
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The use of a drug such as naltrexone in this way is called micro-dosing and can be extremely effective. It has been found that some drugs work differently (and sometimes quite oddly, more effectively) at lower levels. I find micro-dosing to be a very exciting and mostly under-explored component of traditional medicine.
According to the site lowdosenaltrexone.org LDN works in the following way:
The brief blockade of opioid receptors between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. that is caused by taking LDN at bedtime each night is believed to produce a prolonged up-regulation of vital elements of the immune system by causing an increase in endorphin production. Normal volunteers who have taken LDN in this fashion have been found to have much higher levels of beta-endorphins circulating in their blood in the following days.
While it is not completely understood yet, it is becoming apparent that endorphin secretions (our own internal opioids) play a central role in regulating the immune system. I believe that LDN works for me. I think it helps with my energy levels and also modulates my immune system so that it is more balanced. I also believe that it helps to control the neuropathy I experience.
Are wondering if LDN can help you? Here’s my advice. It may be worth discussing LDN with a DAN doctor, naturopath or functional medicine physician. In the meantime, remember that if you suffer from an autoimmune condition or any other health related issues, you may want to look into the main tenets of my healing program which include:
- Extra sleep in the realm of 10 hours or more per night
- Low intensity exercise every day
- The grain-free diet which I have followed strictly since 2001
I’m so sorry to hear you have MS. But I wanted to share with you that this person was healed of MS by diet alone. The only difference in your diet and what they did was no sugar of any kind and no starch or anything that turns to sugar in the body. Doug Kaufman in know the cause thinks this maybe a fungus, yeast overgrowth in the body and in turn causes many things like MS or for me diabetes, just to name one I have. There is also a site that gives a diet for ridding the body of this, candida. Check it out. I really hope you get well. I am trying too to get well. And thanks for this info I may need to try this.
I have Ehlers Danlos along with other health issues and will begin taking LDN tomorrow night. It is the first medicine in a long time that has sounded promising. My doctor is wonderful about trying different treatments with me and when I gave him the info had no problem giving me an rx. I am not hoping for a miracle, just some relief would be nice as right now I have no other treatment options. So glad I found this with all the promising outcomes. Fingers crossed
Sorry to bother almost two yrs after your comment. I am enquiring as to your experience with LDN. Did you start it, are you still on it and if so what has been your experience?
Why are people using this for Hashimoto’s–what symptoms specifically–I am curious to how this may help me.
I am so delighted to hear that LDN has helped you to be well!
I had/have chronic Lyme (which is now in remission; I am blessed) and LDN was part of the first year of my treatment. I was on a 4 mg dose. I found that it did disturb my sleep if I took it too close to bedtime, but if I took it with dinner instead then it had no effect on my sleep at all. Its overall effect on my progression toward full health was subtle but I felt that it helped my body better assimilate the herbs I was using and also lowered my overall immune load.
I’m so sorry to hear about your MS. Your website is treasured by myself and many others, but even more so now, knowing how difficult it must be for you to do such a beautiful job of maintaining it and creating such healthy and yummy recipes. You are so very appreciated.
I suffer from RA, obesity and Celiac disease, am 60 years old and just discovered the “Wheat Belly” lifestyle 2 months ago. I am 20 lbs down, no more eczema, heartburn, stomach cramps or brain fog, not to mention a surge of energy that I haven’t felt in 20 years. I look forward to my next bloodwork results. My hands are so crippled that it’s very hard to do most things or even hang onto most things. I was called a “freak of nature” (behind my back) at the grocery store one day. Discrimination runs so deep in so many forms that it just makes me glad to be going out of this life rather than coming in.
I just purchased your Almond Flour cookbook and it is wonderful! The Scrumptious Bread is the best ever and tonight we’re going to have pizza. I’ve yet to find a crust that works and that is healthy but I have high hopes for yours! I also see lots of crackers in our future. Crackers are the food that
I miss the most.
Best of luck to you and yours!
Hello, my husband has AS (ankylosing spondylitis). He tried getting off his Humira rx for 3 months while we tried LDN. At first, as he got on LDN and the Humira left his system, we were relieved that his symptoms didn’t return to debilitating status. However, within 2 more months, his discomfort was growing and he returned to Humira so he wouldn’t miss work. We wish we could afford to experiment with finding the right dosage better. Those of you on LDN, how did you find the dosage correct for your body? What type of practitioner did you use and do they prescribe or are they actually helpful? And are you still on other drugs/supplements? Thanks!
“Getting well is a process without any rules” — so true.
Thank you for this post. Thank you for sharing your journey.
My son, age 30 and with MS, called me a couple of days ago and wanted the almond flour cookie recipe that I make all the time. It is of course one of yours. As we talked, I pulled up your site. And I was so surprised to see the article on LDN (which I read to him over the phone), and that you had MS. My son has been on LDN since Spring and has been following you for about a year. His diet is almost pristine–tons of raw vegetables. He told me about your site and I have been a big fan ever since. When in Utah I found that Costco was selling Honeyville almond flour for $17 for a three pd bag, a great price. I brought a lot back East with me. Unfortunately Costco have discontinued it. The cheapest way to buy it now is in bulk, ordering 25lbs at a time from Honeyville. I’m sure I’ll be doing that eventually, and selling some to friends and freezing the rest.
We are sending blessings your way. Thank you, thank you for being out there.
Thank you for this post. Having struggled with RA for the last two and half years, I’m just now learning about LDN as a possible treatment instead of the standard protocols followed by my rheumatologist. The video was especially helpful.
I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 but had my first episode in 1996. I’m new to the functional/integrative medicine world and was introduced to it by my friend and crossfit coach. The biggest question I have for those with MS who are treating with natural remedies and/or LDN is this, how do you determine if it is working for you? Do you use how you feel and what you can do as the gauge? Or do you use an MRI to help gauge whether your efforts are working? I only ask because I present with no symptoms currently on a neurological examine. I run, crossfit, work full time and pursue other hobbies. My last 3 MRIs have shown disease activity or a “silent” exacerbation. They call it “silent” because of the fact that I have zero symptoms. I was on Rebif until July and am now taking copaxone. We don’t have a true gauge of if the copaxone is working because I was very lazy taking it leading up to my latest MRI. Which is my own fault because I had a lackadaisical attitude and maybe a little over confident too. Any input you have is appreciated and will help me keep an open mind.
I was dx with MS in 2011, first episode in 2010 while prepping for a fitness competition! :) I was started on Copaxone and hated it. Everyone is different and affects people differently. I was introduced to LDN on patientslikeme.com. The symptoms I had with MS was cognitive impairment, lower extremity weakness, I wasn’t able to walk more than 20 feet without having to stop to take a break and a few other things, however I’m unable to remember right now as its been years since I had any symptoms. I started taking LDN in September 2011, within 2 weeks the brain fog lifted and within 2 months I was running and lifting weights again. Since then I haven’t looked back. I had a follow up MRI 1 year later and the lesions in my brain have reduced in size and number and there were no more contrast enhancing lesions.. I’m a MRI Technologist too btw :) Initially I had 13 contrast enhancing lesions, which indicates that they are actively demyelenating (sp?) LDN both helped my MS stop progressing and it cleared me of the symptoms that impacted my life so much. I hope this was helpful to you! Also I try to stick to a Paleo diet which I was introduced to in CrossFit.