What is LDN?
LDN is short for Low Dose Naltrexone.
Naltrexone is a drug that was approved by the FDA in 1985 to treat opiate addiction, at a dose of 50mg–100mg daily.
‘LDN’ refers to the use of naltrexone at low doses; less than 5mg per day. In 1980 Dr. Ian S. Zagon and his team at Hershey Medical Center, Penn State University discovered that low dose naltrexone has startlingly different effects than high dose naltrexone, and is able to slow down the growth of cancer. Twenty years later researchers discovered that low dose naltrexone also helps treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases and chronic pain conditions. As a result, global use of LDN has grown dramatically with an estimated 300,000 people now using it.
What is LDN good for?
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is being used as an immune system modifier, providing relief to patients with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, viral diseases and central nervous system disorders. While it is not yet approved by the FDA for these additional conditions, it is perfectly legal to use it for any condition a doctor thinks it may help.
Since 2002, several leading universities have performed studies or published their experiences with using LDN for the following conditions:
> Officially Published Studies / Case Reports
- Adenoid Cystic Tongue Carcinoma (case report)
- B-cell Lymphoma (case report)
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Crohn’s Disease
- Dissociative/Trauma Disorders
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Pancreatic Cancer (case series)
- Refractory Chronic Back Pain (case report)
- Systemic Sclerosis Pruritus (case series)
> Patient-Reported Benefits
- Ankolysing Spondilitis
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Epstein-Barr Syndrome
- Hepatitis C
- Lung Cancer
- Lupus Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
- Lyme's Disease
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Parkinson's Disease
- Reactive Hypoglycemia
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Transverse Myelitis
- Ulcerative Colitis
How does LDN work?
Endorphins (feel-good molecules) are produced in most cells in the body, and are important regulators of cell growth and the immune system. Disorders of the immune system can occur with unusually low levels of these endorphins.
Naltrexone is a drug that binds to opioid (including endorphin) receptors. The body, feeling starved of natural endorphins (opiates), is now tricked to significantly increase its production of endorphins. Once the low dose naltrexone stops blocking the opioid receptors (usually in 2- 3 hours), the body is then able to benefit from the hugely increased levels of endorphins circulating in the blood stream. This is known as “the rebound effect”.
The benefits of the rebound effect can only be utilized by taking a low dose of regular naltrexone. Taking a high dose of naltrexone or using a timed-release formulation will continue to block the opioid receptors and no benefit will be achieved from the elevated endorphin levels.
Individuals vary in their metabolic speed and this will result in variations of the speed at which LDN is eliminated from the body, as well as the length of the rebound effect. A single daily dose of between 3mg and 4.5mg works well for most people, however some people benefit from building up their dose slowly.
To watch a short video explaining how LDN works, click here
How quickly does LDN work?
Some patients experience a very fast response to LDN – within days of taking it. In many cases the response can become evident after about two weeks of use. In some cases, especially those of long standing chronic conditions, it has taken up to two months for benefit to accrue. LDN doesn’t work for everyone and it is reasonable to expect that if it will work for you, the benefit will become apparent quickly and no later than 2 months from start of use.
Which dose do I need?
The standard dose used in clinical trials for adults has been 4.5mg. Some people, especially those with lower body weights or liver conditions, benefit from a lower dose such as 3mg or even less. Sometimes it is best to build up the dose in 0.5mg increments until the optimal dose is achieved. For children, the dose is always adjusted according to body weight. For pets, the dose is also adjusted according to body weight.
When should LDN be taken?
Although many people take LDN in the evening or before sleep, scientific studies have shown that it is equally effective if taken during the day. This is important for people who experience sleep disturbances as result of LDN.
Which medications must be avoided when using LDN?
LDN should not be combined with any opiate-based drugs as LDN will cancel their effects. Many painkillers are opiate based. Drugs such as Imodium® are also opiate based and LDN will neutralize its effect.
What side effects does LDN cause?
Side effects from LDN are unusual. Sleep disturbances tend to happen during the first few days of use, if taken at night. This can be avoided by taking it earlier in the day. Vivid dreams have been reported.
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