- Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Choices booklet
- How to take LDN
- Special precautions
- Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for MS
- Benefits of Low Dose Naltrexone
- Among recent treatment trials
- My experience with Low Dose Naltrexone By David Gluck, MD
- It Was A Godsend! LDN Helped Vicki Recover from Debilitating MS Symptoms
Author Linda Elsgood: The LDN Book
- Q: Can you briefly describe what Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is, and in general how it works?
- Q: For those readers who may be unaware, could you explain what is meant by the “off-label” use of a prescription drug? What other drugs, more commonly used than LDN, are prescribed “off-label”?
- Q: Briefly, could you describe what your experience taking LDN has been?
- Q:How do you view the current state of LDN research? Since you started the LDN Research Trust, has the amount of research being undertaken progressed or increased?
- Q: LDN is extremely affordable and there are few reported side effects. In your opinion, why has this drug not received more attention from the medical community?
- Q: Over the years, I’m sure you’ve heard hundreds of inspiring stories from people who have benefitted from taking LDN; are there any that stand out in particular?
- Q: The LDN Book features a wonderful appendix of recommendations for how patients should broach the subject of LDN with their physicians. But what one single piece of advice would you give to doctors who are wary of prescribing LDN?
- Q: Where can patients go for more information about LDN?
- Related posts:
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Choices booklet
‘My LDN is sent directly from Dickson chemist in Scotland after my neurologist forwards a prescription, but it is a private one so has to be paid for.’
It is important to note that LDN obtained from sources other than a prescribing chemist cannot be guaranteed to contain LDN, or be safe. This is particularly true of LDN obtained from unregulated sources on the internet (10).
How to take LDN
According to the LDN Research Trust, the majority of people using LDN will have a positive impact on symptoms quite quickly after starting treatment. They also say that in less than 10% of people with MS that are treated, increased symptoms may be more severe or more prolonged than usual, lasting sometimes for several weeks. Rarely, symptoms may persist for two or three months before the appropriate beneficial response is achieved.
‘I take 3mls of LDN, adjusting dosage when needed. It has stopped my heat intolerance and twitching legs but has not stopped progression.’
Your prescribing doctor will usually start the treatment of LDN at a very low dose and increase this gradually, making sure any increase does not cause some of the more common adverse effects. If you do experience any unpleasant side effects after starting LDN, talk to your prescribing doctor about reducing the dose for a period, before increasing it again.
Some of the common initial side effects from taking LDN are increased fatigue, sleep disturbance (if taken at night time) and increased spasticity however many people starting on LDN do not experience any side effects.
LDN is most commonly administered in liquid form. It is taken with a syringe of the same type used to give medications to infants. LDN is also available as a capsule at 3mg and 4.5mg doses or as sublingual drops, which are a higher dose to liquid LDN and are used by people who have trouble swallowing. The drops are placed under the tongue with a dropper (10).
It is strongly suggested by the LDN Research Trust that you should talk with your GP, MS nurse or neurologist if you are taking herbal medicines, or multiple medications or if you have renal or liver failure. If you experience liver issues you may need to be regularly monitored with additional blood tests.
According to the LDN Research Trust, LDN is compatible with steroids and some of the disease modifying treatments (DMT) for MS. If you are taking a DMT and are planning to start LDN it is suggested that you talk to your MS nurse or neurologist before starting LDN.
Some medicines are not compatible with LDN – particularly opiate-based painkillers (such as morphine).
If you are considering taking LDN, you should provide the prescribing doctor with your full medical history.
If you choose to start treatment with LDN please report any untoward or adverse effects immediately to your prescribing doctor so the treatment process may be re-assessed and modified if necessary (10).
This content is taken from the MS-UK Choices booklet. All quotes are from people affected by multiple sclerosis.
Visit the Choices booklet web page
Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) for MS
Naltrexone, which reverses the effects of opiates like morphine or heroin, is one of the more controversial but poorly studied potential therapies for MS.
It is used in clinical practice in people trying to recover from opiate addiction.
How low-dose naltrexone (LDN) works in multiple sclerosis and other immune-mediated diseases, if it does, is the subject of conjecture.
But there seems to be overwhelming anecdotal evidence that it prevents relapses and reduces disease progression.
It may act by reducing cell death in oligodendrocytes (the myelinating cells of the central nervous system).
Evidence of its apparent benefit in individual cases has been published on a number of websites, but to date, there are no results from randomized controlled trials, although several are in progress.
Benefits of Low Dose Naltrexone
- It is relatively free of side effects, unlike many heavily promoted immune-modulating therapies
- It is a generic drug that cannot be patented, so it is far cheaper than other currently available drugs – which may explain why it hasn’t been studied much
Among recent treatment trials
After two-thirds of patients with Crohn’s Disease went into remission and 89% responded to LDN in a pilot study, researchers at Penn State University studied 40 people with Crohn’s Disease in a RCT.
Patients received naltrexone or placebo for 12 weeks; all received naltrexone for another 12 weeks.
- After 12 weeks: 88% of those receiving LDN showed a 70-point decline in Crohn’s Disease Activity Index scores, compared to just 40% of those receiving placebo
- After 12 more weeks: 50% of patients who had received LDN from the start went into remission (scores declined another 75 points), while 70% of those who had previously received placebo showed a 70-point decline in CDAI scores
LDN MS research is underway. One LDN MS treatment RCT at the University of California enrolled 80 patients with relapsing-remitting MS.
The researchers found significant improvements for LDN over placebo in several mental health quality of life measures.
Another study of short duration (only 17 weeks) enrolled 96 PwMS, however found no difference over placebo in measures of quality of life.
More info can be found on the LDN Research Trust website.
1. Agrawal YP. Low dose naltrexone therapy in multiple sclerosis. Med Hypotheses 2005; 64:721-724
2. Smith JP, Stock H, Bingaman S, et al. Low-dose naltrexone therapy improves active Crohn’s disease. Am J Gastroenterol 2007; 102:820-828
3. Cree BA, Kornyeyeva E, Goodin DS. Pilot trial of low-dose naltrexone and quality of life in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol 2010;68:145-50
4. Sharafaddinzadeh N, Moghtaderi A, Kashipazha D, Majdinasab N, Shalbafan B. The effect of low-dose naltrexone on quality of life of patients with multiple sclerosis: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. MultScler 2010;16:964-9
One of the most widely disputed treatments for multiple sclerosis is low dose naltrexone (LDN). While a plethora of patient testimonies and anecdotal evidence suggest immense benefits of LDN for multiple sclerosis, many clinicians are wary due to the lack of FDA approval outside of treating heroin and alcohol addiction.
Starting with the basic biology of LDN, the opiod antagonist drug is suggested to protect oligodendrocytes from cell death by reducing inflammation in the brain as a result of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibition. In other words, less oligodendrocyte apoptosis means a greater potential for myelination, the key activity that could restore myelin damaged in multiple sclerosis. An alternative explanation for LDN activity is that low doses (less than 5 mg/day) of naltrexone cause the drug to act as an opiate agonist to regulate neurotransmitter activity between neurons.
Regardless of the mode of action, “Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy in Multiple Sclerosis,” published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, reports that over 70,000 LDN capsules are dispensed from a single pharmacy in only 8 months. Such a high demand for LDN resulted in the first trial for LDN initiated in December 2006 (completed in August 2007 and published in September 2008).
Led by researchers in Milan, Italy, the trial was a six-month, multi-center pilot Phase 2 trial that treated 40 patients with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS), a more severe form of the disease. “A significant reduction of spasticity was measured at the end of the trial,” wrote Dr. Gironi, lead author of the study “A Pilot Trial of Low-Dose Naltrexone in Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis,” published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Gironi further described, “Our data clearly indicate that LDN is safe and well tolerated in patients with PPMS.”
In this study, patients were dosed with 2 mg oral LDN at bedtime for four weeks. Patients were monitored by their clinicians via phone call, and the dose was increased to 4 mg if warranted. In-person follow-up visits allowed clinicians to track the progress of patients. Only one patient experienced a progression of neurological disability, and adverse events did not interfere with daily living for the patients who remained in the study.
Around the same time as the study in Milan, psychologist David Pincus announced a study to treat patients with either PPMS or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. This trial was a 16-week trial with 36 patients. Unfortunately, at the close of the study, Dr. Pincus acknowledged problematic outcomes in the study. “We did not exclude patients on existing immunosuppressants,” stated Dr. Pincus. “The existing immunosuppressants may have inhibited the LDN effects in this population.” There was no apparent difference between placebo-treated and LDN-treated patients in terms of symptoms or energy levels.
The first placebo-controlled trial for LDN in multiple sclerosis was conducted by the University of California, San Francisco in early 2007 with neurological researcher Bruce Cree, MD as the lead. “A Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Crossover-Design Study of the Effects of Low Dose Naltrexone” was a Phase 3 study that dosed 80 patients with either 4.5 mg of naltrexone or placebo for eight weeks before treatment was crossed-over.
“We are grateful to the MS patients for participating in this study and wish to specially acknowledge the efforts of SammyJo Wilkinson of LDNers.org and the other fundraisers who made this trial possible,” said Dr. Cree in an acknowledgement to the World Congress on Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis. “To our knowledge, this is the first patient-funded clinical trial in MS.”
Published in the journal Annals of Neurology, the article “Pilot Trial of Low-Dose Naltrexone and Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis” described the results of the trial. Treatment with LDN was associated with a significant improvement on parts of the mental health quality of life measures portion of the multiple sclerosis quality of life (MSQoL) score. No imaging was conducted to see if pathological disease progression was affected.
Around the same time of publication, a second placebo-controlled trial was published, but this time it was from two universities in Iran. This trial was similar in setup to the UCSF trial, but 96 relapsing-remitting or secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS) patients were treated. “The Effect of Low-Dose Naltrexone on Quality of Life of Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial” indicated patients experienced no added benefit of treatment with LDN relative to placebo. Overall, MSQoL was not different between the two groups.
Scientists are not quite sure why clinical studies are revealing insignificant benefits of LDN therapy for multiple sclerosis, despite anecdotal evidence outside the clinical trial setting. To better understand the mechanism of action, researchers have conducted animal studies using experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) as a model for multiple sclerosis. “Prevention and Diminished Expression of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis by Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) or Opiod Growth Factor (OGF) for an Extended Period: Therapeutic Implications for Multiple Sclerosis,” an article published in Brain Research, found that support cells in the nervous system (astrocytes and oligodendrocytes) are protected by LDN treatment. In fact, in the study, LDN helped to halt EAE progression, reverse the neurological deficits experienced by the afflicted mice, and prevent neurological dysfunction for an extended period of time.
If more successful clinical trials are conducted and the FDA approves LDN for multiple sclerosis therapy, patients would benefit from more than just a reduction of symptoms. As reported by “The Use of Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a Novel Anti-inflammatory Treatment for Chronic Pain,” which was published in Clinical Rheumatology, LDN costs an average of $35 per month assuming no insurance coverage. The low cost relative to other medications is attributed to its generic status. Another major benefit is the low side effect profile. Clinical trials for a wide range of diseases have shown no incidences of ulcers, renal insufficiency, medication interference, or withdrawal symptoms. The most common side effect is an increase in vivid dreams that may go away over time.
Yet LDN is accompanied by a list of disadvantages, in addition to the lack of clinical studies. Insurance companies will not cover LDN for off-label uses, although the low price mitigates this concern. Since not all patients have access to LDN (4.5 mg), some patients create their own dose by dividing commercially available 50-mg tablets. Fortunately, it is unlikely a patient could overdose on LDN, but the danger of inconsistent dosing remains. Additionally, no long-term safety studies have been conducted for LDN — only naltrexone. Although researchers indicate that a lower dose of medication seems as though it would have fewer side effects, the difference in mechanistic action may bring on unforeseen safety issues. Until more trials are conducted and LDN provides a clear benefit without any adverse events, multiple sclerosis patients will continue to wait and see if one more potentially life-saving treatment is approved.
My experience with Low Dose Naltrexone By David Gluck, MD
In 1999, after years of trying in vain to find supporters for LDN research, my son Joel and I determined to set up a website to tell the world about it; it is called www.lowdosenaltrexone.org. Not long thereafter, Joel arranged for the creation of the LDN-Yahoo Group, which is free and which one can easily join right on the website’s home page. There are currently about 11,000 members of the Group, and most of them are anxious to assist others who have any questions about LDN use.
Sometime in 2001, I decided to begin taking LDN 4.5mg nightly myself, on a preventive basis. I have continued to do so ever since, as have a large group of immediate family members and friends. No one has reported any untoward side effects, and the results have been very interesting: without exception, we have all noted a marked decline in our incidence of common colds – which appear to have dropped a good 85%! It also became clear that any serious stressor, either physical or emotional, could quickly impair the protective effects of LDN until the problems were resolved.
By 2005, we realized that there was enough growing interest in LDN to permit our arranging the First Annual LDN Conference, which was held at the New York Academy of Sciences. Over the next three years, similar annual conferences were organized in locations around the USA. There was also a special conference in 2007 at the National Cancer Institute, which included only researchers with special interest in LDN. . My experience with these meetings persuaded me that the main goal for advocates of LDN ought to be the attainment of FDA approval for its special new uses; and the best road to that goal surely lay in further research.
When, after a series of unfortunate accidents and related medical problems, Bernard Bihari, MD, died in 2010, I lost a lifelong friend and the world lost a brilliant and caring physician. It has become that more compelling to achieve well-deserved recognition for his great discovery.
I recently was asked to write an article about low dose naltrexone for a USA magazine called Natural Solutions. The editor planned it to be a response to a person with an autoimmune disease, who is wondering about possibly using LDN. Here is that piece, with a few minor modifications. It contains the sort of information that might be useful for any new potential user of LDN:
“Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is just an off-label use of the FDA-approved drug naltrexone. Any physician can write the prescription for you. Rather than the original 50mg daily of naltrexone for those addicted to narcotics or alcohol, LDN is used at doses no higher than 4.5mg (nor lower than 1.5mg) and is generally taken at bedtime.
The major mechanism of action of LDN involves blocking the body’s opioid/narcotic receptors for just a very few hours (rather than the all-day blockade caused by the 50mg dosage). Those are the same receptors used by the body’s endorphins. The body responds to this by greatly increasing its endorphin production, and those higher levels last all day — far after the blockade by LDN has ended. Endorphins turn out to be the major normalizer/upregulator of one’s immune system.
This is of critical importance to anyone who has an autoimmune disease. Published studies have demonstrated that all autoimmune disorders thus far tested are marked by weak, dysfunctional immune systems (in contrast to the common belief that they are probably too strong). This makes good sense, because the first commandment of the immune system is “Thou shalt not attack self!” Only a dysfunctional immune system attacks self. When the LDN normalizes one’s immune system, it halts the further progression of any autoimmune disease. When one takes LDN, one is regaining a normalized immune system – and it is the immune system that has such a positive effect on such a wide variety of conditions.
We have already noted positive benefits from LDN in those with HIV, any autoimmune disorder, many cancers, Parkinson’s disease, motor neuron diseases (such as ALS), COPD, and in childhood autism.
LDN has been especially popular for a great number of people who suffer from MS because it is beneficial in a high percentage of patients and it is the antithesis of the spectrum of “approved” anti-MS medications, which are questionably effective, often painful and problematic to use, are sometimes dangerous, and are always expensive. LDN, in contrast, is almost always effective, easy to use, non-toxic, easily affordable and it has virtually no significant side effects.
Because naltrexone has been a generic drug for many years now, no large pharmaceutical company will invest any money in the large research costs needed to gain FDA approval of these special new off-label uses of the medication. No one makes any significant money from sales of LDN! Nonetheless, there have been many small clinical studies of LDN performed at outstanding medical centers, all showing it to be safe and effective. Check my website for detailed information on the research .
In MS alone, there have been two very promising studies. One, out of a group of hospitals in Milan, Italy, showed that of some 40 patients with Primary Progressive MS (for which there is NO recognized treatment) who were treated with LDN over a period of 6 months, only one patient showed any sign of progression! The other study, performed by one of the best neurology departments in the USA, at UCSF, was very brief, but showed that within 8 weeks of LDN treatment there were already statistically positive improvements.
There are only two substantial contraindications to LDN’s use. The first is that the potential user must not be dependent on daily narcotic-containing pain medications. Remember that naltrexone is a pure opioid antagonist, so even one little capsule of LDN taken by such a person might well lead to a prompt and dangerous withdrawal reaction. The other contraindication is based on a supposition: we believe that anyone who has had an organ transplant, and thus must take daily immunosuppressant medications, ought not start using LDN, which reliably strengthens one’s immune system.
Use of LDN is generally compatible with all other treatments or medications, with these few caveats:
- Use of any narcotic-containing pain medication during the same few hours (about 5 hours) of LDN’s activity is unwise because LDN will block that drug’s effect.
- Use of immunosuppressant medications for any length of time will act to counter LDN’s benefits, most of which are based on its ability to normalize the immune system.
Because LDN is a prescription drug that is made by compounding pharmacies, and because there is a rather high rate of error in compounding the occasional drug, I strongly recommend using only compounders that are recognized for their expertise in compounding effective supplies of LDN. On my website’s home page , there is a list of pharmacies in the USA, Canada, and the UK, highly recommended for LDN, which have proven themselves over many years. They all ship it to you promptly and are inexpensive.
In summary, if you have one of the many diseases that have been reported as benefiting from LDN and have neither of the improbable contraindications that I’ve noted above, then by all means, why not consider getting started on LDN.”
It Was A Godsend! LDN Helped Vicki Recover from Debilitating MS Symptoms
Looking for a prescriber to consult about LDN?
Find one in your area Vicki, how did you find out you had multiple sclerosis (MS)?
I had had a little bit of tingling and numbness going on, and I was extremely tired (and I couldn’t really understand why I was so tired), so I went to a neurologist. He did some tests, and diagnosed that I had MS. That was in 1998, two weeks before my 40th birthday.
What were your MS symptoms like?
I had lot of weakness, fatigue, and memory issues. As the years went by, I had an awful lot of nerve pain with my MS, which (from what I understand) wasn’t totally typical. It was very uncomfortable. When I would lie down at night, I couldn’t have sheets touch me. It was hard just to lie in bed because of the pain I felt along my back where it touched the bed. I couldn’t wear shoes because my feet hurt so badly. I was constantly rubbing my legs due to the pain. I can remember my husband spending hours upon hours rubbing my back at night to help me, but even that wouldn’t eliminate or alleviate the pain. Sometimes my husband just touching me would hurt me. It just increased my pain level. But, a lot of the time, I just needed to see if something would make the pain go away.
How did your MS affect your work life?
Just getting up in the morning, taking a shower, getting prepared for the day became so difficult, too difficult. On top of that, I had mental confusion and memory issues. It wasn’t feasible to work. I ended up on disability and was unable to work for 10 years. I really missed working, however, and I hoped that I would be able to go back someday.
What treatments had you tried?
Before I started LDN, I would always talk to people about my “drawer of drugs.” They started me on the CRAB drugs (Copaxone®, Rebif®, Avonex®, Betaseron®). I took Avonex® for 9 years, and after about the 9th year, my doctor decided the Avonex® wasn’t doing what it was supposed to, so he switched me to Copaxone®. Along with the CRAB drugs I was taking, I took morphine for the pain. I took Oxycontin® for the breakthrough pain. I was on Neurontin®. I took Baclofen®. And I was on a lot of other medications, since they were trying to treat the spasms and the other different problems I was having from my MS. I probably had 50 different medications that the doctors had me try for my MS and its various symptoms and complications, with virtually no luck or horrific side effects. I also have a really medication-sensitive system, and I wasn’t able to take a lot of the drugs due to side effects. So, they decided that they would just start weaning me off a lot of these different drugs. When they took me off the opiates, they discovered that I had gastroparesis (I had a lot of digestive problems) and wasn’t able to eat a lot and I was losing a lot of weight. So they were thinking about putting a feeding tube in me, and I wasn’t really happy about that. That’s around the time when I discovered the LDN. Before I agreed to the stomach tube, I wanted to wait to see what the LDN would do and how it would impact my life.
I probably had 50 different medications that the doctors had me try for my MS and its various symptoms and complications, with virtually no luck or horrific side effects. What was your emotional state?
When my MS was at its worst, I didn’t have a very good outlook on life. I was depressed. I hurt so badly that I didn’t want to deal with daily activities. It really took a toll on my quality of life. Before LDN, I can remember a lot of times going to bed and just not wanting to wake up the next morning because I just didn’t have the will to continue life. I just didn’t have the ability to want to continue because it was just so difficult…just getting up in the morning, taking my shower, getting prepared for the day. Very difficult.
When did you start taking LDN and what was it like for you?
I started taking low dose naltrexone on Oct 30th, 2005. Within about 6 months of starting LDN, I was a totally different person. I noticed a complete change in the way my body was feeling. It increased my energy level. My thoughts were a lot clearer. I was just mentally and physically much, much better.
What have your brain scans shown?
About 5 years ago, my neurologist had me repeat my MRI scans. One of the brain lesions they had been monitoring had actually gone down in size. I had no new active lesions, and that’s a good sign! We’re attributing that to the LDN.
How has your pain been since starting LDN?
I have no pain. I’m able to wear my high heels, and I function perfectly, and just have absolutely no pain. I was able to get off all the opiates that I was taking. I stopped taking all my MS drugs that they had prescribed for me. That’s quite an accomplishment for me because I had been so uncomfortable and in so much pain.
Did your severe digestive problems change?
After about 6 months of being on LDN, I noticed that my stomach was about 60% better. Nowadays, my stomach is almost 100% better. I have no issues with my stomach, and I attribute that mainly to the LDN, because prior to that, they said there was nothing they could do for me.
How has taking LDN changed your work life?
I had been on LDN for a couple of years, and each year things were just getting better and better. I finally decided that I wanted to go back to work. So I went back to work part-time just to see how I would do. Within two weeks, I was perfectly fine, and they released me to go back to work full-time. I have been working full-time, and I outwork all my coworkers. I just have so much energy. I get up in the morning and I go to work, and I come home and continue my activities in the evening time. It’s just been remarkable. LDN has been a godsend for me.
Are you taking any other medications?
No! I only take my vitamins during the day and LDN at night. After 10 years of taking multiple drugs, that’s quite an accomplishment. I’m really happy about that.
What are the biggest post-LDN life changes you have experienced?
The biggest change was the way I felt mentally. I had peace of mind that came from knowing I was going to be okay. Once I noticed that I was doing so much better, it changed my thinking and my quality of life. It changed how I felt about life. Because of the LDN, I felt excited to get up in the morning and pursue my day. I put a lot of energy back into my life. I liked life. I liked living again. I also had a new reason to continue: to help other people, to educate people about LDN. Because I saw what a huge impact LDN made on my life, it gave me an opportunity to touch other people’s lives as well by trying to help them talk to their doctors about LDN, and encouraging the doctors to prescribe LDN. To this day I continue reaching out to patients and doctors, and convince them this is the direction that we need to head towards.
Because of the LDN, I felt excited to get up in the morning and pursue my day. I put a lot of energy back into my life. I liked life. I liked living again. What do you think people need to know about LDN?
I’m amazed that we don’t hear a lot more people talking about LDN. It just floors me that it isn’t an option available to a lot more people. I would like to see our government more involved in funding. I would like to see more of the mainstream media doing more promoting of low dose naltrexone. LDN is definitely something that warrants the research and the funding, and without the news media and the funding, we’re just not going to get it to where it needs to be. I think nowadays with the cost of medications and their side effects, I think it’s definitely to a person’s advantage to research low dose naltrexone and convince their doctor to prescribe it.
Milo R, Kahana E. Multiple sclerosis: geoepidemiology, genetics and the environment. Autoimmun Rev. March 2010: 9 (5):A387-94
Author Linda Elsgood: The LDN Book
Q: Can you briefly describe what Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is, and in general how it works?
A: LDN works by transiently, or temporarily, blocking the body’s opioid receptors. This causes an increase in the production of natural endorphins—the body’s own natural painkiller—which promotes healing, inhibits cell growth, and reduces inflammation. LDN can be beneficial in the treatment of everything from cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and various autoimmune diseases, to autism, depression, and chronic pain.
Q: For those readers who may be unaware, could you explain what is meant by the “off-label” use of a prescription drug? What other drugs, more commonly used than LDN, are prescribed “off-label”?
A. Doctors are used to prescribing medications for purposes other than what they were initially intended to treat. For example, Gabapentin, which is primarily used to treat epilepsy, is often prescribed to patients with depression, nerve pain, migraines, and even multiple sclerosis. LDN is described as “off label” because Naltrexone in much higher doses was approved for the purpose of treating opioid and alcohol addiction. It is legal to prescribe drugs off-label but the prescribing doctor must take full responsibility. In the case of Naltrexone has only been found to be harmful to the liver in doses of 300mg a day. Low Dose Naltrexone is normally prescribed at only 3 to 4.5mg a day, and therefore many doctors are happy to prescribe it given the low incidence of side effects.
Q: Briefly, could you describe what your experience taking LDN has been?
A: I’ve been taking LDN for over 12 years to treat my multiple sclerosis. I’m not the same as I was before having MS but I still have a good quality of life. LDN has given me my life back.
Q:How do you view the current state of LDN research? Since you started the LDN Research Trust, has the amount of research being undertaken progressed or increased?
A: Small trials and studies are being carried out all the time on LDN, and we are awaiting a new paper on the effects of LDN on cancer, which will be published out in February 2016. This should bring our understanding of LDN to an exciting new level, and not just for cancer. That being said, clinical research on LDN has increased enormously since the LDN Research Trust was formed back in 2004, as more and more doctors and pharmacists have learned about LDN and supported its research.
Q: LDN is extremely affordable and there are few reported side effects. In your opinion, why has this drug not received more attention from the medical community?
A: Until full clinical trials have been carried out, there will always be doctors very cautious about prescribing. Clinical trials are normally funded and driven by big drug companies, which are reluctant to do so for generic drugs that do not have the potential for huge profits.
A: We also have over 13,000 followers on our Facebook group. I would say that approximately one third of our members and followers use LDN to treat MS, but other common conditions are fibromyalgia, ME/CFS (myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome), Crohn’s disease, cancer, different forms of arthritis, and chronic pain. When you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, or conditions, it is frightening and scary. Suddenly you can feel as if you’re living in a parallel universe where nothing seems the same as it was before. Then to be told that nothing more can be done for you after standard treatments that either don’t work, present awful side effects, or both, well it’s easy to see what leads people to do their own research. Since LDN is highly visible on the Internet, it is easier these days for people to find answers to their health questions.
Q: Over the years, I’m sure you’ve heard hundreds of inspiring stories from people who have benefitted from taking LDN; are there any that stand out in particular?
A: So many wonderful success stories have left big impressions. Among them was a lady with Crohn’s who at 36 was so ill that she was literally about to have her bowels removed and fitted with a colostomy bag, when she started to panic and requested to go home and not have the operation. She was told that she would die without it, but she started treatment with LDN, and after five months her Crohn’s was gone. She even went on to have another child. Over five hundred patient testimonials are available to view on our Vimeo channel: www.vimeo.com/ldnresearchtrust.
Q: The LDN Book features a wonderful appendix of recommendations for how patients should broach the subject of LDN with their physicians. But what one single piece of advice would you give to doctors who are wary of prescribing LDN?
A: The LDN Book is a great place to start, and I would suggest they make time to read it, and then conduct their own research into LDN and the very good information already available.
Q: Where can patients go for more information about LDN?
A: Our website is www.ldnresearchtrust.org. Patients, doctors, and pharmacists can all find a wealth of information there.