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Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)- For Autoimmune Diseases

Low Dose Naltrexone  (LDN)

Immune regulator  for Auto-Immune Diseases

+ Cancer, AIDS, COPD, CFS, Fibromyalgia and the common cold


   What is LDN?

   What diseases has LDN been useful for?

   How does LDN work?

   LDN Treatment

   Cautionary Warnings /Side effects of LDN



What is Low Dose Naltrexone  (LDN)?


      Prescribed “off-label”, Naltrexone (generic name) is a prescription drug given at unconventionally low doses showing great promise in treating autoimmune diseases - including central nervous system disorders, cancer and HIV/AIDS.


-       Naltrexone is a pharmacologically active opioid antagonist usually used to treat drug and alcohol addictions – an FDA approved drug for over two decades, it is normally used at doses of 50 -300mg.  


-       At low doses  (3 - 4.5 mg) researchers found Naltrexone has immuno-modulating properties - that may be able to successfully treat cancer malignancies and a range of autoimmune diseases E.g. R.A., M.S., Parkinson’s, Alzheimer's and Crohn’s disease. and also certain syndromes, E.g. fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.     Dr. Jacquelyn McCandless even found LDN to have a positive effect on autistic children.


-       Extremely low-cost


-       Appears virtually free of detrimental side effects


-       Few physicians are aware of this usage of LDN and at a price of ~$15-45 / month, it is not backed by big Pharma.


What diseases has LDN been useful for?


From the www.lowdosenaltrexone.org website


      Bernard Bihari, MD, as well as other physicians and researchers, have described beneficial effects of LDN on a variety of diseases:




     Bladder Cancer

     Breast Cancer


     Colon & Rectal Cancer


     Liver Cancer

     Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell)

     Lymphocytic Leukemia (chronic)

     Lymphoma (Hodgkin's and Non-Hodgkin's)

     Malignant Melanoma

     Multiple Myeloma


     Ovarian Cancer

     Pancreatic Cancer

     Prostate Cancer (untreated)

     Renal Cell Carcinoma

     Throat Cancer

     Uterine Cancer


Other Diseases


·         Common Colds (URI’s)

·         Emphysema (COPD)

·         HIV/AIDS



       ●     Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

·         Fibromyalgia

Autoimmune Neurodegenerative:

     ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease)

     Alzheimer's Disease

     Autism Spectrum Disorders

     Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

     Parkinson's Disease

     Primary Lateral Sclerosis (PLS)

     Transverse Myelitis

Other Autoimmune Diseases:

     Ankylosing Spondylitis

     Behcet's Disease

     Celiac Disease

     CREST syndrome

     Crohn's Disease



     Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

     Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

     Myasthenia Gravis (MG)



     Rheumatoid Arthritis



     Sjogren’s Syndrome

     Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS)

     Systemic Lupus (SLE)

     Ulcerative Colitis

     Wegener's Granulomatosis


      Clinical Studies on Safety and Benefits of LDN for Autoimmune Diseases - A couple of examples follow, but a complete list of past and current research is at the lowdosenaltrexone.org website.


-       LDN for Multiple Sclerosis – Dr. Maira Gironi, an Italian neurological researcher, treated 40 patients affected with Primary Progressive MS (PPMS) with LDN for six months, concluding that LDN was not only safe and well-tolerated, but halted the progression of the disease in all but one patient.  Results published in the journal Multiple Sclerosis .


-       LDN for Crohn’s Disease – in a pilot study involving 17 Crohn’s disease patients, Low-Dose Naltrexone Therapy Improves Active Crohn’s Disease,


Smith J. et al, Apr. 2007,American Journal of Gastroenterology

 an impressive two-thirds of the patients in her pilot study went into remission, and 89% responded to LDN treatment to some degree.



How does LDN work?


LDN effects on Immune System


      LDN benefits the immune system in many ways – results from studies indicate that LDN has several attributes:


         LDN reduces inflammation /oxidative stress


         LDN reduces apoptosis of oligodendrocytes in MS


         LDN down regulates but doesn’t eliminate inflammatory cytokines


         LDN facilitates tissue repair and wound healing


         LDN targets microglial cells (small non-neural cells that collect waste products of CNS nerve tissue) and neuropeptides (endogenous protein molecules that influence neural activity by carrying information directly to the cells and tissues. Included are VP, CCK, substance P, enkephalins, and endorphins).


         LDN stimulates the release of neurotrophic factor (family of substances with roles in neuron maintenance and survival) from astroglia (neuron support cells)


         LDN restores CD4 levels in HIV infection


         LDN increases levels of natural killer (NK) lymphocytes


         LDN increases beta endorphin levels - research is finding that natural endorphins play a part in the body’s immune system (IS)



"Opioid-Induced Immune Modulation: .... Preclinical evidence indicates overwhelmingly that opioids alter the development, differentiation, and function of immune cells, and that both innate and adaptive systems are affected.

Bone marrow progenitor cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, immature thymocytes and T cells, and B cells are all involved.

The relatively recent identification of opioid-related receptors on immune cells makes it even more likely that opioids have direct effects on the immune system."

Review article: Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain, Feb 2004 NE J. of Med:



-       Informative website www.lowdosenaltrexone.org states that taking LDN at bedtime improves immune function – by marginally blocking your opioid receptors for a few hours in the middle of the night, which is believed to up-regulate vital elements of your immune system by increasing your body’s production of metenkephalin and endorphins (your natural opioids), hence improving immune function.





LDN effects against cancer


      Increased endorphin production and other related factors linked to anti-cancer mechanisms - Dr. Bernard Bihari, who first discovered LDN as a therapeutic agent for AIDS, in 1985, believes LDNs anti-cancer mechanism is likely due to an increase in:


-       Increased endorphins


-       Number and density of opiate receptors on the tumor cell membranes - making them more responsive to the growth-inhibiting effects of the already present levels of endorphins, which in turn induces apoptosis (cell death) in the cancer cells


-       The absolute numbers of circulating cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells - as well as killer cell activity


Dr. Bihari reports promising results in treating 450+ cancer patients with LDN , including cancers of the bladder, breast, liver, lung, lymph nodes, colon, and rectum.

According to Dr. Bihari, nearly a quarter of his patients had at least a 75 percent reduction in tumor size, and nearly 60 percent of his patients demonstrated disease stability.


LDN Treatment


      LDN should be obtained by prescription –  i.e. under medical approval if deemed appropriate; it can also be obtained OTC cheaply, but admittedly with questionable reliability (E.g. Toronto Drug Store /works out to ~$25/mth at 4.5mg/day); If purchased in 50mg tablets, they can be ground up and repackaged as 4.5 mg capsules or made into 4.5 mg liquid doses at home


      Ideally obtain LDN from a reliable pharmacy – a list of such is given at lowdosenaltrexone.org


         LDN capsules should not contain calcium carbonate as a filler – since it has been found to interfere with absorption of LDN capsule


         DO NOT get LDN in slow-release form


      Dose – therapeutic range is 1.5 mg – 4.5 mg every night.  Lower doses have no effect  and higher doses likely block endorphins for too long, interfering with effectiveness


         Usual adult dosage is 4.5mg taken once daily at night -  to avoid interfering with rhythms of the body's production of master hormones, LDN is best taken between 9pm and 3am. Most patients take it at bedtime.


         Exceptions include:


·   With multiple sclerosis that has led to muscle spasms - use only 3mg daily and to maintain that dosage


·   For those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with hypothyroidism  who are taking thyroid hormone replacement medication - please read about intial dosage of LDN in Cautionary Warnings below.


See lowdosenaltrexone.org  for more details


Cautionary warnings / Side-effects


      Adverse events reported in clinical studies - temporary insomnia and vivid dreaming in some patients.


      Cautionary warnings – according to lowdosenaltrexone.org, special precautions are required if any of the following situations apply:


-       If you use opioid agonists, do not take LDN until such medicine is completely out of your system - i.e. narcotic medications such as Ultram (tramadol), morphine, Percocet, Duragesic patch or codeine-containing medication;


-       Patients taking thyroid hormone replacement for a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis with hypothyroidism need to begin LDN at the very lowest range (1.5mg for an adult) - as LDN may lead to a prompt decrease in the autoimmune disorder, which then may require a rapid reduction in the dose of thyroid hormone replacement in order to avoid symptoms of hyperthyroidism.


-       People who have received organ transplants - and who therefore are taking immunosuppressive medication on a permanent basis are cautioned against the use of LDN because it may act to counter the effect of those medications.



Good online references for LDN









How to Make 4.5 mg Liquid Doses from 50 mg Naltrexone tablets


Supplies Needed
•    50 mg tabs of naltrexone
•    5  ml syringe or graduated baby medicine dropper
•    4 oz amber glass jar with a tight fitting lid
•    Distilled water


     Fill a graduated cylinder with 50 ml of distilled water  then pour into a 4oz glass jar;

     Drop in one 50mg Naltrexone tablet. 

      The tablet will mostly dissolve in about 2 hours -  Note that not all of the tablet is soluble in water so instead of yielding a clear solution, the result will be a cloudy suspension. 

     One ml of the SHAKEN suspension will contain one mg of Naltrexone

     Use a graduated baby medicine dropper or 5-ml syringe to measure out the dose you need.


Since liquid form has a dramatically decrease shelf life, do not make more than 50 ml of liquid Naltrexone at one time, store it in the refrigerator, and do not keep it for more than 2 months. 

 Be sure to shake the liquid LDN well before using and keep from direct exposure to sunlight.




Hormones Links


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        – “Frankenstein Version of Natural Hormones”

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MELATONIN – “Darkness Hormone”

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HISTAMINE – “Inflammatory Response Hormone”

Fight or Flight Catecholamines:


DOPAMINE –  “Go Get it! /Reward Hormone” 


Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)  - “For auto immune disease, cancer, AIDS, COPD and the common cold”

FSH, LH and GnRH

PROLACTIN – “Cool Down Hormone”

INSULIN – “Blood Sugar Uptake”,  GLUCAGON, IGF

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GHRELIN – “Hunger Hormone”


Steroid Hormones

Steroid enzymes affecting Steroid Production /Activity 


 CORTISOL – “Stress Hormone”


ALDOSTERONE – “Water Retentive Hormone”

Sex Steroid Hormones

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Estrogens – “Predominantly Female Sex Hormones”



PROGESTERONE – “Precursor to Androgens, Estrogens and Corticoids”

Estrogens and PROGESTERONE in Lifestage Events

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  CALCITRIOL (active form)

  CALCIDIOL (circulating form)

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