It's been around for more than 20 years. It's always been controversial. It's had a few clinical trials, now it's getting more. Some say it works, some say it does nothing. A lot of people view it as another form of snake oil. But there is a community that believes it can help MS, ALS, Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Cancer, HIV/Aids, Celiac Disease, Crohns disease, Fibromyalgia, IBS and several other diseases. Warning signals go off in my head when a drug claims it can cure or slow so many serious things. But I'll ignore them and take a look at what's being claimed.
Here's how it is thought to work: Naltrexone is an opioid blocker, it blocks all the brain's opioid receptors and it was approved by the FDA to treat recovering addicts. The low dose version triples the body's production of endorphins which gets the immune system into full operation. The drug doesn't fight the diseases directly, the body fights the diseases after the immune system is back to normalcy.
Naltrexone is generic so no drug company will pay the millions needed to go through the off-label process with the FDA or the EU drug agency because there's no profit in doing so.
Another problem is that the drug comes in a 50mg capsule for the use of the addicts. Other human diseases would mainly use doses of 1.75 to 4.50 mg per day ("low dose" or LDN). To get capsules with the necessary dose size the patient wishing to use this drug needs to find a compounding pharmacy that is experienced with LDN. I think that some of the problems that off-label patients have had with the drug may have been inaccurate dose size from the compounding pharmacy. It is available in liquid form which must be kept refrigerated. If using the solution, you need to stipulate that you do not want the slow-release (SR) form. Remember also that you will need to titrate up to a dose effective for you. We've read of some MS patients only stop at 2.8mg and do not go all the way to 4.5mg.
It is important to take it between 11:00pm and 3:00am because the body makes endorphins in the last few hours before sunrise. Naltrexone is an opioid blocker-opiate antagonist; it makes the brain think it has a deficit of endorphins. So to compensate the body makes 2 to 3 times the normal amount of endorphins. The endorphins function restore the immune system to full operation. Some LDN users also add chlorella to their regimen for additional support.
Purely anectdotal evidence exists showing LDN reducing symptoms in MS patients and to a lesser extent in Parkinson's. At a site listed below the following improvements were noted: sense of well-being; no more depression; improved sleep; episodes of delusion/paranoia stopped; ease of muscle tension followed by restored normal breathing pattern; lowered doses of PD meds; improved cognition; restoration of balance; no more night sweats; no drooling; smile returned; lack of side-effects. (1/2011 update) A recent anecdotal report indicates that tremor reduction after 6 days of use. It is too early to determine if this is due to the effects of LDN or placebo effect.
So how do you obtain LDN? You print out some information and you discuss it with your doctor...who might mention the connection between T-cells and decreased dopamine but not that LDN might adjust the glial process...Which we will be discussing in the future.
Clinical trial results:
Parkinsonian symptom abstract
An interesting news item
You might find these interesting:
Specifics about Low Dose Naltrexone
Our next two posts in this series:
Many patients are also taking Alpha Lipoic Acid as a supplement when they take LDN. Watch for R-ALA which is the positive form.
Researchers are now looking at natlrexone to treat the inpulse-control side effects of PD meds. We are wondering if those who take Mirapex and Selegiline or other dopamine agonists or MAOIs would be able to continue to have the benefits of those medications without the problems which many PwPs have experienced.
see: Naltrexone for Impulse Control Disorders in Parkinson's disease.
Because we think this is very important, we just want to remind anyone taking LDN to always have a bracelet/dogtag/pendant/wallet card indicating that you are taking Low Dose Naltrexone.
In the event of a bad fall or other injury, you don't want to be given narcotic/opiate painkillers or you will have pain far worse than the pain you are already experiencing.
It has been suggested that this tag indicate Naltrexone at the very least as some people may not be familiar with LDN.