Low Dose Naltrexone and Multiple Sclerosis
Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984. Its original purpose was to treat heroin addiction. In high doses naltrexone blocks the receptors that heroin and other opiates act upon. However, patients using this treatment often did not stick with it due to side effects of insomnia, severe depression, irritability, and loss of feeling of pleasure. These side effects occurred because in high doses, the medication blocks the production of endorphins. Doctors soon stopped using naltrexone to treat addiction.
In 1985 doctors started researching the effects of naltrexone on the immune system. They were concentrating on its possible uses in treating AIDS. They found that low doses of naltrexone taken at bedtime triple the amount of endorphins produced by the body. During the same study, it was found in most people with multiple sclerosis have low endorphin levels.
It is thought that proper endorphin levels orchestrate the activities of the immune system and help the body determine between normal, healthy cells and mutated, precancerous cells and bacteria.
Taking a small amount of naltrexone at bedtime blocks endorphin production for a short time while the person is sleeping. During the normal cycle of hormone release, which occurs in the early morning hours, the body compensates by producing three ties more endorphins than typical. Therefore, giving multiple sclerosis patients low doses of naltrexone at bedtime brings endorphin levels to normal.
Further studies have indicated that low dose naltrexone may slow down disease progression when taken in amounts of 3g per day, at bedime. Other effects include relief from spacticity, increased energy and improvement in optic neuritis symptoms.
Because low dose naltrexone or LDN is not a standard treatment for multiple sclerosis, it may be difficult to find a physician with accurate information and who is willing to prescribe it. However, many naturopaths and other alternative medicine physicians may be more knowledgeable.
It is recommended that people with MS do their own research into LDN and draw their own conclusions.