Inflammation is the root cause of most chronic illnesses and while anti-inflammatory medications can be used to decrease some pain and inflammation, they don’t work at the root cause and come with side effects especially when taken chronically.
Inflammation can occur when certain cells and receptors are activated. Glia cells are housekeepers for nerve cells. When activated they produce factors that excite and inflame the nervous system which in turn communicates with the immune system. These factors can cause pain sensitivity, fatigue, cognitive disruption, sleep disorders, mood disorders, and general malaise. When chronically activated, the resulting inflammation may be neurotoxic, causing harmful effects.
There is a well-known medication that if taken in low doses has been shown to not only alleviate symptoms but also to decrease inflammation. Some of the conditions are as follows:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Lyme Disease
- Chronic Skin Conditions
- Gut Health
This compounded medication, in low doses has a profound anti-inflammatory effect and offers hope and help to people who are suffering
The secret is….
Low Dose Naltrexone LDN
LDN has been used for a very long time to reverse the effects of opioids. The dosage for LDN is approximately 1/10th of the typical treatment dosage. In most published research, the daily dosage is 4.5 mg, though the dosage can vary a few milligrams below or above that common value. At low dosage, naltrexone has different effects such as pain relief and anti-inflammatory actions, that have not been reported at larger dosages.
The conditions that Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has been studied the most are:
- Chron’s disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Complex regional pain syndrome
In these and other inflammatory conditions, LDN has been demonstrated to reduce symptom severity and inflammation at the root and has been shown to promote psychological well-being as well as generalized health especially in autoimmune disorders. It may also influence the immune system outside the central nervous system on immune cells such as macrophages. Macrophages are the cells that fight infection. They kill the infectious agent with powerful inflammatory cytokines and clean up the debris. Sometimes the immune system does not know how to turn off and the cells keep producing these inflammatory cytokines. LDN may suppress the cytokines TNF alpha, Interleukin – 6 and chemoattractant protein-1, and superoxide which if left unchecked can cause a lot of damage.
Here are some of the results of published studies:
Although FM does not respond to common anti-inflammatories, LDN reduced fibromyalgia pain significantly. In addition, laboratory visits showed that mechanical and heat pain thresholds were improved by the drug. Low-dose naltrexone was also associated with improved general satisfaction with life. The response to fatigue and sleep varied.
In one study, eighty-eight percent of Chron’s patients treated with naltrexone had at least a 70-point decline in Crohn’s Disease Activity Index score (CDAI) and after 12 weeks, 78% of subjects treated with naltrexone showed healing of the painful erosions and 33% achieved remission. Another study showed those patients treated with naltrexone showed significant reversal of gastrointestinal inflammation by microscopic examination of tissue and Chron’s Disease Activity Index scores. Eighty-nine percent of patients exhibited a response to therapy and 67% achieved a remission. Improvement was recorded in both quality-of-life surveys with LDN compared with baseline. No laboratory abnormalities were noted. The most common side effect was sleep disturbances.
Studies showed patients treated with LDN had significant improvement on quality-of-life measures such as mental health, general health, and pain. They also had improved scores regarding their perceived deficits.
Chronic inflammatory skin conditions
Low dose naltrexone has been studied in various inflammatory skin disorders. Studies suggest that low-dose naltrexone is safe and effective in the treatment of Hailey-Familial Benign Pemphigus (Hailey disease) and lichen planopilaris and both low- and high-dose naltrexone successfully treat pruritus attributable to various pathologic conditions; however, more adverse effects occurred in those taking high doses. Low-dose naltrexone has the potential for the treatment of chronic inflammatory skin conditions; however, additional evidence is needed for dosing and long-term treatment guidelines.
Other conditions that were studied and showed some improvement with low dose naltrexone were chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, immune related diseases, ulcerative colitis.
Side effects were mild and not serious and most often include:
- Insomnia and/or vivid dreams
Most side effects remit in 2 weeks
What to expect
- It takes a while to see an effect. Give it a 3-month minimum trial to determine if it is working.
- The benefits are subtle and when people decide to stop, that is when they realize that it was helping. Most people who discontinue on their own have a flare within 3 months.
- The dose will vary from person to person. Most start with 1.5 mg and increase by 1.5 until they get to 4.5 mg. Not all patients get to 4.5 and that is fine.
- It should not be taken with opioids.
- Stop taking it 24 -48 hours before surgery. You can restart it when you stop opioid pain medications. It has a short half-life of 4-6 hours.
- It is generally taken at night because endorphins are made at night and bedtime dosing was studied the most, however some people do better with daytime dosing.
- Some people want to dilute high dose naltrexone to get to the lower dose. This is not recommended because naltrexone does not mix easily and is not stable. A compounding pharmacist has the expertise to prepare a stable dose form in capsules, tablets, sublingual tablets, or cream.
If you are suffering from any inflammatory disorders and feel defeated and find little hope, giving low dose naltrexone a try may improve your quality of life and decrease inflammation at the root. If you want to see if we are a good fit, fill out an application for a no obligation clarity call and be sure to look at the explainer page to get a better understanding of a functional medicine approach to your health.