Hi everyone --
I've been asked about
low-dose naltrexone as a treatment option, and there are some excellent resources for it on the web. But I thought I'd provide a summary here of what it is about
, in case there are specific questions. I've been taking LDN since August of 2013, and it has reversed 95% of the fatigue symptoms (including brain fog), perhaps 90% of the sudden-onset arthritis, and greatly reduced the discomfort from IBS, depression, and some other, secondary symptoms.
Naltrexone was patented in 1967 as a means to treat alcoholic patients and those with chemical dependencies. It blocks the same opioid cell receptors that the abused substances bind to, creating the "high" the patients seek. In a specific low dose of naltrexone, this same action only occurs for a couple of hours at night when sleeping. This is the time period when most of the body's endorphins are synthesized, and when these cell receptors are blocked, the body thinks it has a deficiency of endorphins. In response, cells are signaled to produce more receptors, they become sensitized even further, plus more endorphins are produced as well. This video helps visualize the process: /www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0p0ykSzy9o&t=24s
Endorphins are a critical component of the body's systems, and reduce inflammation, provide pain relief, and also improve electrical signals that pass through the central nervous system. As such, it can be said that endorphins not only make you feel better, but also aid in the healing process.
CFIDS is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects cell mitochondria, where the enzyme ATP is produced. Because of the increased amount of endorphins throughout the day, the cells can function more normally, and produce adequate amounts of ATP. Increased endorphins is also helpful for other autoimmune conditions, and, as I noted, helped my arthritis -- also an autoimmune disorder. LDN is also being studied as an adjunct to some forms of cancer treatments, because of its regulating effect on cell division.
Before a patient can begin LDN treatment, he/she must stop all use of opioid medication, for a period of 10-30 days beforehand. The reason for this is the opioid medication substitutes for the body's own endorphins, since it competes for the same cell receptors. The body reaches an "equilibrium state" and reduces the amount of endorphins it makes each night while you sleep, because it adjusts to the general amount of opioids it has become accustomed to. By stopping the opiate medication, the body will eventually reach a new equilibrium of endorphins, and even start making more cell receptors if necessary.
At this point, the LDN therapy can begin. Natrexone itself is only formulated in a 50mg size, and must be compounded into lower doses. I'm in no way affiliated with Skip's Pharmacy, but I highly recommend getting LDN from this source. Skip takes LDN himself, and only uses the best sources for the drug, as well as the best compounding ingredient. The first order of LDN capsules will be a quantity of 90 in a 1.5mg size, because it must be titrated upwards. For the first 30 days, 1.5mg is taken before bed. Days 31-60 two capsules, of 3.0mg total, are taken. At this point, one is ready for the standard 4.5mg dose, and results should begin to be seen shortly thereafter. The reason for titrating the LDN is because of its only side-effect, sleep disruption. Some people note this, and others experience no issues.
I believe LDN has become a little more accepted in the past four years or so, when I first began investigating it. The initial doctor who prescribed it for me retired soon after, but I discovered that once I began taking it, several doctors I visited locally after that point offered to continue the prescript
ion for me. It all depends upon how
open-minded your doctor is. You may find this link helpful before broaching the subject with him or her: www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/gazorpa/PatientGuide.html
I think if you have a good relationship with your doctor, it's very likely he will write it for you. There are also lists available of doctors known to prescribe LDN, and I believe Skip may have such a list, too.
One of the reasons I'm such a fan of LDN is because it has zero side effects (aside from some possible sleep disruption), and the benefits of the healing that can take place are because of your own endorphin production. I don't think there is any other prescript
ion drug out there that can claim this same sort of benefit, at such a small daily dose. There is no "Band-Aid effect," of covering up symptoms, etc. Your body is doing its own pain relief and healing.
I hope this is helpful.