Is LDN a miraculous cure for multiple sclerosis? Low-dose Naltrexone is a controversial treatment. At the beginning of the last decade, and to some extent even today, taking the drug Naltrexone, at a lower dose than usual, has been seen as an effective treatment for several autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis.
Naltrexone was approved in the early 1980s in the US for treating opiate addictions like morphine and heroin. About ten years later, it was also approved for treating alcoholism. Naltrexone blocks the receptors to which opiates and alcohol are attached, thus preventing the sense of high, resulting from the use of these substances. In the early 2000s, small studies have demonstrated that taking a low dose of Naltrexone (LDN) can help a wide range of diseases involving the immune system. Low-dose refers to the amount of about one-tenth used to treat addictions. For example, one small study, published in 2007, with 17 people living with Crohn’s disease, showed that taking LDN resulted in improved quality of life, with no particular side effects. Also, some trials were conducted with people living with multiple sclerosis, AIDS, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, and cancer. The results of these trials were favorable. The researchers hypothesize that the positive effect of LDN is due to the low dose. The absorption mechanism is different than in addicts and mitigates the inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases. The most comprehensive study examining the impact of LDN on MS patients was published in 2017. The study was conducted in Norway, where LDN use became widespread. The study was designed to determine if LDN was used as a substitute for other MS drugs. The Norwegian medical system is governmental, and therefore there is only one database containing all medications’ use information. The researchers gained access to this database and mapped all patients who collected at least one LDN prescription in 2013. Afterward, the researchers examined which of these patients also collected multiple sclerosis medications in 2009-2010 as well as in 2013-2015. The researchers compared MS medication use before the onset of LDN (2009 and 2010) and after (2013 to 2015). They wanted to establish whether, as a result of the LDN use in 2013, there was a significant change in the use of MS medications. A total of 341 patients collected prescriptions for LDN 1,744 times, with the majority of patients – 211 ( 62%) collected LDN more than four times. At the same time, the researchers followed the number of times these patients collected MS medications (DMT such as Copaxone, Interferon) and drugs to treat MS symptoms (such as BACLOSAL and analgesics). The statistical analysis did not show a significant difference between the amount and frequency of multiple sclerosis drugs use before and after the LDN collection. Thus, for these patients, the treatment with LDN did not significantly change the use of other MS medications. The researchers concluded that LDN probably does not have a significant effect on the symptoms of multiple sclerosis. The study’s authors recommended more research to determine whether LDN has proven beneficial effects on MS. To date, no comprehensive and extensive study has been conducted to determine the efficacy of LDN in MS patients due to a lack of funding. In essence, Naltrexone is a cheap drug, which its patent expired a long time ago. Therefore, pharmaceutical companies have no interest in investing in researching it. LDN use is highly controversial, it is currently not approved anywhere in the world, and its safety and efficacy have not yet been proven. When LDN is used, it is done off label. If you consider using LDN, you should keep in mind, that like any other medication, it has some side effects. The most common side effects are anxiety, difficulty sleeping, irritability, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, headache, joint pain, muscle pain, and fatigue. It is important to note that the information presented here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or dis-recommendation for taking LDN or for changing the dose recommended by the physician. In any case, before starting or discontinuing LDN or other medications, you should consult with a qualified medical practitioner.
For more information: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5669439/