What is Naltrexone?
Naltrexone is a medication that was originally approved as the treatment for opioid addiction and alcoholism. During the 1980’s a Harvard MD discovered that at around 4.5mg naltrexone could bind to the immune cells. Since then, ongoing research regarding Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has found benefits for patients with chronic pain, autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, and central nervous system disorders.
How Low-Dose Naltrexone Works:
Naltrexone is a mu-opioid antagonist and has two similar, but different structures. The first one is known as Levo-naltrexone and the second is Dextro-naltrexone. Levo-naltrexone binds to the opioid receptors causing an increase in endorphin release. The Dextro-naltrexone binds to the immune cells including TLR4 and preventing the release of NF-KB which reduces inflammation. LDN has demonstrated the ability to reduce the severity of fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and complex regional pain syndrome (CPRS)
In a study completed at Stanford University, 28 women with fibromyalgia took one pill a day for 16 weeks. During that time, each woman took the LDN (4.5 mg) for 12 weeks and a sugar pill (placebo) for 4 weeks. The study was double-blind, meaning that neither the women participating in the study nor the healthcare team knew which pill they were taking at any time. Each woman was given a handheld computer to record their pain, fatigue, and other symptoms on a daily basis, and they continued to record their symptoms for 4 weeks after they stopped.
Participants experienced a significantly greater reduction in their pain scores while they were taking the LDN as compared with while placebo. They also reported improved general satisfaction with life and improved mood while taking LDN. However, there was no improvement in fatigue or sleep. All participants tolerated the LDN, with few side effects.
Common Side Effects: Sleep disturbances/ Vivid dreams, mild headache, mild agitation, and upset stomach.
Uncommon Side Effects: Flu-like symptoms, rash, high temperature, dizziness.
LDN should not be taken by patients who ae also taking opioids such as morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone. It is possible that even a low dose of naltrexone could induce withdrawal symptoms.
LDN is not commercially available but can be personalized into various dosage forms by prescription. We can make it into various strengths and dosage forms including:
- Sublingual Drops
- Topical Creams
The most commonly prescribed strengths of naltrexone for fibromyalgia include 1.5mg, 3 mg, and 4.5 mg
While the study from Stanford didn’t show a benefit by LDN for fatigue or sleep there are other natural ingredients that can also be added to your custom medicine including vitamin B6, melatonin, or magnesium.. Another great option is to add functional supplements to help with the free radical damage from your body not generating enough energy like alpha lipoic acid, n-acetyl cysteine, vitamin c, and acetyl-l-carnitine.