Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and MS

From Action Online
Magazine of the United Spinal Association
January 25, 2008
Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and MS
Naltrexone, in a low dose, can boost the immune system - potentially helping those with central nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis.

By Ronald Hoffman, MD, and Skip Lenz, Pharm D FASCP

“LDN may well be the most important therapeutic breakthrough in over fi fty years,” says David Gluck, MD, editor of www.ldninfo.org, a Web site detailing the uses of low-dose Naltrexone (LDN). “It provides a new method of medical treatment by mobilizing the natural defenses of one’s own immune system.”

Naltrexone was approved by the FDA in 1984 in a 50 mg dose for the purpose of helping heroin or opium addicts, by blocking the effect of such drugs. By blocking opioid receptors, Naltrexone also blocks the reception of the opioid hormones that the brain and adrenal glands produce: beta-endorphin and metenkephalin. Many body tissues have receptors for these endorphins and enkephalins, including virtually every cell of the body’s immune system.

In 1985, Bernard Bihari, MD, a physician with a clinical practice in New York City, discovered the effects of a much smaller dose of Naltrexone (approximately 3 mg once a day) on the body’s immune system.

A small dose of the drug taken nightly at bedtime can double or even triple the endorphin levels in the body all of the next day, restoring levels to normal. Since endorphin levels are low in people with MS, immune function is poorly orchestrated with significant impairment of the normal immune supervisory function of CD4 cells. In the absence of normal orchestration of immune function, some of the immune system cells “forget” their genetically determined ability to distinguish between the body’s 100,000 unique chemical structures (called “self”) and the chemical structures of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and cancer cells (called “nonself”). With this loss of immunologic memory, some cells begin to attack some of the body’s unique chemical structures. In the case of people with MS, the tissue attacked by immune cells (particularly macrophages) is primarily the myelin that insulates nerve fibers. These attacks result in scars in the brain and spinal cord called plaques. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) in such patients seems to work by restoring endorphin levels to normal, thereby allowing the immune system to resume its normal supervision and orchestration.

In general, in people with diseases that are partially or largely triggered by a deficiency of endorphins (including autoimmune diseases) restoration of the body’s production of normal levels of endorphins could be one of the major therapeutic targets of LDN.

In Dr. Bihari’s practice, within the group of patients who presented with an autoimmune disease, none have failed to respond to LDN; all have experienced a halt in progression of their illness. In many patients there was a marked remission in signs and symptoms of the disease. The greatest number of patients within the autoimmune group are people with multiple sclerosis, of whom there were some 400 in Dr. Bihari’s practice. Less than 1% of these patients has ever experienced a fresh attack of MS while they maintained their regular LDN nightly therapy.

Up to the present time, the question of “What controls the immune system?” has not been present in the curricula of medical colleges and the issue has not formed a part of the received wisdom of practicing physicians. Nonetheless, a body of research over the past two decades has pointed repeatedly to one’s own endorphin secretions (our internal opioids) as playing the central role in the beneficial orchestration of the immune system, and recognition of the facts is growing.

Dr. Bihari’s experience and that of others who have prescribed LDN over the last 20 years is considered “anecdotal evidence” because there had been no real medical trials done of LDN. Today, there are three medical trials being performed on LDN and its effects on MS. One is being conducted in Milan, Italy; one in San Francisco, California; and one in Akron, Ohio. We will report more about those trials in next month’s Action.

If you are interested in finding out more about LDN, please visit www.ldninfo.org. This site provided most of the information being reported to you here.

Ronald Hoffman, MD, is founder and Medical Director of the Hoffman Center in New York City, author of numerous books and articles for the public and for health professionals, and host of the nationally syndicated radio program Health Talk. Skip Lenz, Pharm D FASCP, is a pharmacist in Boca Raton, Florida.

8 Responses to “Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and MS”

Cindy Holt Says:
January 31st, 2008 at 8:59 am
I am a subscriber to Action. Also, I have had MS for 16 years. I have been taking LDN for 3 weeks and never intend to stop! I have happily experienced a few invisible (but noticable by me) improvements.

So far in general, LDN use has only been discovered through the unofficial MS grapevine or through accidentally discovering it in reading things written on MS message boards, as I did, gratefully . THANK YOU for the publication of this article !!!

Cindy Holt, Greensboro, NC

Kristen Jones Says:
February 19th, 2008 at 9:51 pm
I ditto Cindy’s remarks, except I was diagnosed with MS 6 months ago and have been on LDN now for 4 months.

I’ve noticed major changes in my main symptoms and plan on continuing my treatment on LDN!

I also thank you for publishing this article and helping spread the word about LDN and it’s efficacy in treating MS!

JoyceF Says:
March 17th, 2008 at 11:09 am
I am so happy whenever I hear that more people are becoming aware of LDN and what it can do for MS, among other disorders and cancer. I first heard of it, by word of mouth over the internet, about 6 years ago and am so very thankful that I decided to trust my instincts about it. I’ve been taking 4.5mg of it daily ever since and do think it’s the best thing I could have done to combat my MS. I’ve been getting it compounded by Skip’s Pharmacy and can’t say enough about his dedication to the whole concept of LDN. I attended the first ever conference and from what I hear, they are planning their 4th annual conference to be held in California in October 2008. Keep in mind that this is all run by volunteers that believe in this therapy enough to spend their own money to get to the conference in hopes that more people will be informed. My belief is that we are all entitled to this information and with intelligent information come intelligent decisions.

Czes Kulvis Says:
July 16th, 2008 at 1:36 am
Thanks a lot

Hopefully this information will help me dealing with my MS more successfully

Hopefully, Naltrexone is natural remedy

Susan Harwood Says:
September 8th, 2008 at 4:13 pm
The doctors in New Mexico seem to think LDN therapy is a panacea. They want me to continue with Co-Paxon, and won’t write script for Naltrexone. Any suggestions?

Chris Says:
September 9th, 2008 at 9:03 am

Personally, I think it’s always good to maintain a healthy skepticism about any medication being touted as a panacea.

We are still awaiting results of the studies mentioned in the last paragraph of this article. You should be aware, though, that the studies in each case have sample sizes that are quite small. No matter how they turn out, it will almost certainly be necessary to repeat the studies with larger groups to determine what effect, if any, LDN has on MS symptoms.

Prof. C. S. Rainey Says:
November 24th, 2008 at 3:41 pm
After fours days of 1.5 mg LDN (taken at bedtime), prescribed by Dr. John M. Sullivan 717 697-5050 and compounded by Skip’s Pharmacy in Boca Raton FL, my peripheral neuropathy is improving.

No side affects. I also take B-1, B-6, B-Complex, and methylcobalamine (under the tongue) and 0.125 mg Mirapex for RLS two hours before bed.

Cliff Rainey, retired scientist and chemistry teacher
UC Berkeley, Class of 1977


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