Autoimmune Diseases

Low Dose Naltrexone for Autoimmune Diseases and Fibromyalgia

Have you or someone close to you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, fibromyalgia or other causes of chronic pain? Have you been trying to get it under control for years with drugs that have side effects almost worse than the disease and still have pain and inflammation? Or have you tried to control it with diet and other natural methods that haven’t been entirely effective?

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, psoriasis, scleroderma, inflammatory bowel disease and/or Sjogren’s syndrome, you are not alone. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), researchers have identified 80 to 100 autoimmune conditions, and more than 23 million Americans have at least one. And though fibromyalgia isn’t technically autoimmune, it does share some symptoms, especially widespread pain.

So what exactly is an autoimmune disorder? When the immune system turns on its own body’s tissues, we call it “autoimmune” and name the disorder according to what part of the body is being attacked or a symptom it provokes.

For example, rheumatoid arthritis affects the joints; lupus, the connective tissue and skin; psoriasis, the skin; and ankylosing spondylitis the spine. But the process behind these conditions is similar and it’s very common to find more than one in the same person. And they all cause inflammation, tissue damage and in many cases severe pain and can lead to disability.

Naltrexone was first approved by the FDA in 1984 to help people with opiate addiction. It occupies the same receptor sites in the body as the opiates, so it is known as an “opiate antagonist”. The dose for addiction treatment is usually 50-100 mg. Apparently in the 1980s lower doses were also being used clinically for pain conditions but the first study demonstrating effectiveness for autoimmunity wasn’t published until 2007.

Here’s what happens when Naltrexone is taken at a low dose, generally 3 to 4.5 mg. Our bodies make their own opiates (also known as endorphins). The word endorphin actually means endogenous morphine. Endorphins diminish pain and also modulate our immune system. The Naltrexone binds to our opiate receptors. For many, this result in pain relief

and over time may even reset the immune system. Most people on LDN for autoimmune conditions take it before bed, and the few side effects may include trouble sleeping or very vivid dreams.

Like any treatment, LDN won’t work for everybody but compared to the side effects of the current drugs being used for immune modulation and suppression, it’s definitely worth a try. To schedule your consultation please contact us.