Naltrexone is commonly known as an opioid antagonist. It has been shown to be effective in treating alcohol dependence and blocking the effects of opioids. In this type of therapy, naltrexone is prescribed at daily doses of 50mg. Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is a term for using naltrexone at a much lower dose than normally prescribed. Evidence exists for the use of low dose naltrexone in the treatment of chronic pain and inflammation in several autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s Disease, Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis. These treatments use lower doses, normally 4.5 mg daily. Low dose naltrexone is theorized to exhibit anti-inflammatory effects by its action on the opioid growth factor receptor. This receptor is different than the receptors normally utilized by opioid medications to treat pain. Although large clinical trials are lacking for this treatment, preliminary evidence has shown that low dose naltrexone is safe, tolerable, and effective with no known serious adverse side effects, much unlike normal therapies with immunosuppressants. All drugs potentially have side effects. Low dose naltrexone can be titrated up slowly to avoid initial side effects such as dizziness or nausea.
Low dose naltrexone capsules must be compounded by a compounding pharmacy to assure proper dosing. Commercially available naltrexone tablets are only available at much higher doses than those used in low dose regimens. Compounding pharmacies use the pure active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) with the appropriate filler in clear capsule without dyes or extra additives. Low dose naltrexone can also be much more cost effective than normal therapies that involve expensive brand name injectable drugs. Talk to your doctor to see if LDN may be good for you.