5+ Reasons Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) May Work for Your Pain
Naltrexone is a patent medicine invented in the 1960s to block opiates and prevent people from abusing them. If someone takes Naltrexone, then heroin, opium, codeine, morphine, and so forth, just don’t work. They can’t get high. They can’t even get pain relief; Naltrexone is stronger at blocking the receptors and keeps the drugs from binding. The problem is, like many drugs, it works too well! In fact, it works so well, it doesn’t even let the natural endorphins bind to their normal receptors – they’re blocked-out! So, people taking it could never feel good, and quit taking the medication. LDN stands for Low Dose Naltrexone. Since the standard dose is 50 mg the lower doses must be compounded by a compounding pharmacist in doses from 0.5 mg to 4.5 mg.
Endorphins are peptide (short protein) hormones made in the pituitary gland that bind to opiate receptors. It is not one, but several different peptides. When they attach to a receptor it causes a reaction that blocks pain and makes people feel good – among many other actions. These receptors are found on all cells of the body and can have different effects depending on their location. The effect on a pain nerve, or muscle cell is different from that of a lymphocyte or immune cell. It is important to note that if you take morphine or any opiate medication, it lowers your production of endorphins, preventing you from getting all their good effects.
Human cells make their own morphine, which is identical to the process found in the opium poppy. When there is damage, they can suppress the pain both locally, and in the central nervous system. Studies show that women with higher levels of endorphins have less pain with childbirth, for example. When a person takes morphine (or any opiate) it suppresses the body’s own production, making people more sensitive to pain, which is why people get “hooked” on, or tolerant of, pain medications – without the medication they can’t even feel normal. This is just the opposite of LDN.
How does LDN work?
Don’t get NALTREXONE confused with NALOXONE, which is similar, but fast-acting; NALTREXONE may take a couple hours to work. The very low dose of naltrexone means it won’t last long in the body. If people take it at night, while they sleep, it works, and it’s gone by the time they get up. As naltrexone blocks the opiate receptors, the system is trying to stimulate those receptors. The natural reaction of the body is to make more endorphins to make up for the lack of stimulation. This is exactly the opposite of what people hooked on opiate drugs do. While those taking drugs get more and more pain as endorphins decline, those who take LDN are increasingly able to create internal pain control. Moreover, the naltrexone binds to receptors on the immune cells, preventing them from releasing inflammatory cytokines that stimulate the immune response. So, LDN has a double benefit – more pain relief, and lower inflammation. LDN can increase your production of endorphins by as much as 300%!
What is LDN good for?
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic Fatigue
- Chronic infections (yeast, EBV, Lyme, etc.)
- Depression and Anxiety
- Autoimmune disease