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Low Dose Naltrexone: A “New” Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases

HonestMedicine-frontThose of you who have read my Amazon.com bestselling book, HONEST MEDICINEknow that it features four low-cost treatments for very serious illnesses — treatments that are, according to the book’s subtitle, effective, time-tested and inexpensive.  One of these, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), will be of particular interest to followers of AutoimmuneMom.com, because it is a non-toxic, off-label medication that has been used for many years to treat over 100 autoimmune diseases, including conditions many of you may have.

For years, people with multiple sclerosis were the most ardent and vocal supporters of LDN.  Because of this, all the LDN success stories I featured in HONEST MEDICINE were contributed by patients or relatives of MS patients.  (One chapter was contributed by a doctor, David Gluck, MD.)

I am now writing a second book, which will be entirely about LDN, with true accounts from patients who have successfully used LDN for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia.  That’s quite an array of autoimmune conditions!  But LDN may work on many more conditions, as well.  Please see this list of conditions that LDN may help from LDNResearchTrust.org.

What is LDN?

Low Dose Naltrexone is a very low dose of a drug that was approved in high doses by the FDA in the mid-1980s for heroin addiction, and approximately ten years later, for alcoholism.  At that time, Bernard Bihari, MD, a brilliant, Harvard-educated neurologist/psychiatrist who was working with drug addicts in New York City, discovered that, while the high doses of naltrexone that had been approved by the FDA had negative side effects for patients, in very low doses, which he called LOW Dose Naltrexone, this off-label drug was nontoxic, and raised endorphin levels, causing patients’ immune systems to function correctly.  (He said LDN “modulates” or “orchestrates” the immune system.)

Since many of his drug addicted patients also had HIV/AIDS, Dr. Bihari prescribed naltrexone in very low doses (at that time, 3mg) for them.  For many of these patients, LDN stopped the progression of their disease in its tracks.  He reasoned that LDN might also work for people with other diseases which also have, at their core, an immune system dysfunction.  This included most autoimmune diseases and many cancers.

A friend of his daughter’s was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  At that time, there were no MS drugs on the market.  She asked Dr. Bihari if his new drug might help her.  Believing there was no harm in trying, he prescribed LDN for her.  As with his HIV/AIDS patients, her MS stopped progressing.

This was a pre-Internet era, yet the word about LDN spread.  People with all sorts of autoimmune diseases (and some cancers) traveled to New York to see Dr. Bihari.  His successes with many of these conditions mirrored his successes with HIV/AIDS and MS.  Patients were ecstatic.

Years later, small studies bore out Dr. Bihari’s clinical results, with researchers at Penn State conducting studies on LDN for Crohn’s disease, and researchers at the University of California (San Francisco) conducting an equally successful study on LDN for MS.  In addition, Dr. Jared Younger at Stanford conducted a study on LDN for fibromyalgia.  Again, the results were encouraging. (I will gladly send readers links to these studies, if you write to me at [email protected].)

Why am I working so hard to spread the word about LDN to autoimmune patients?

Because LDN raises endorphin levels and forces the body’s immune system to act correctly, I often say that LDN is one medication that behaves more like a nutritional supplement than a drug.  In HONEST MEDICINE, Dr. David Gluck, a colleague of Dr. Bihari’s, states that LDN “tricks the body” by forcing the immune system to function correctly.

I believe many of you may be interested in trying LDN. But you probably haven’t heard of it because your doctors haven’t told you about it.

I am very passionate about spreading the word about LDN.  Since my book was first published, I have heard from many people who have autoimmune diseases that have not responded to the drugs their doctors have prescribed for them.  In many cases, the drugs have been so toxic that these patients’ lives have been severely compromised.  Once they find a doctor who will prescribe LDN for them, their conditions often improve and, in some cases, totally reverse.

Patients are often discouraged about the medications their doctors prescribe for their autoimmune conditions.  All you need to do is listen to the warnings at the end of TV ads for drugs like Humira, used to treat the symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease and plaque psoriasis.  The same is true for Embrel, used to treat several forms of arthritis, and Lyrica, used for fibromyalgia and diabetic nerve pain. Orencia, another drug used for RA, also warns of severe side effects.  We could make our way through a long list of drugs, risks and common side effects.

To give you just one frightening example, let’s look at one real ad—and listen to the side effects its manufacturer admits to.

One of my “favorite” ads is for Humira. See/listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIjmV2ggDDQ for “moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis.”  It boasts that, with Humira, patients get 75% skin clearance, implying that it’s a benign drug your dermatologist should be happy to prescribe for you.  Unfortunately, at the end of the ad, we learn that it “can lower your body’s ability to fight infections.  Serious, sometimes fatal events such as infections, lymphoma or other types of cancer have happened.  Blood liver and nervous system problems—serious allergic reactions and new or worsening heart failure have occurred.  Before starting Humira, your doctor should test you for TB.  Ask your doctor if you live in, or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common.  Tell your doctor if you’ve had TB, hepatitis B, are prone to infections or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough or sores.  You should not start Humira if you have any kind of infection.”

WHOA! And the side effects of many of the other drugs for autoimmune diseases are similarly frightening.

So I hope you can understand why I am so passionate about spreading the word about LDN, which has as its main side effect “vivid dreams.”

Suppose my doctor won’t prescribe LDN for me?

I am happy to report that more and more doctors are prescribing LDN for their patients.  In fact, patient advocates have lists of doctors from all over the US and abroad who are on the “LDN Bandwagon.”  There have been several conferences, in both the US and Europe, devoted to educating patients and doctors about LDN.  Doctors and patients alike come from all over the world to attend.  Many of the doctors speak about their LDN patient successes, and others come to learn about LDN from other doctors—and from patients.

That’s the good news.

blueBut most patients still face problems when trying to get LDN, since it requires a prescription, to be filled by a compounding pharmacist, and many doctors won’t prescribe it.  So, far too many patients simply don’t get to try LDN.  But more and more patients want to convince their doctors to “let” them try LDN.

I have decided to be part of the “LDN Solution” by helping patients to convince their doctors.

I learned a great deal about how doctors think from my late father, who was a general practitioner in Connecticut back in the so-called “good old days” of medicine.  (I put “good old days” in quotes because my dad felt there was a lot wrong with the medical system even back then.)  He described patients who came to him armed with articles from popular publications like the Readers Digest.  He was not impressed and actually looked down on that kind of “authority.”

As I listened to patients’ stories of how they were trying to convince their doctors to prescribe LDN—and how they were often turned down—I realized that these patients were sharing information that was equally unimpressive to their doctors: printouts from the Internet.  I knew, from my experiences with doctors over the years (personal and professional), that doctors do NOT like getting random printouts from online sources—some of which are good, some of which are not.

So I analyzed what it takes to convince doctors to change their minds about a treatment they weren’t taught about in medical school and that they haven’t read about in their journals—a treatment their colleagues don’t yet know about.  In order to educate patients about LDN, so that they can educate their doctors about it, and in so doing, convince their doctors to prescribe it for them, I am now conducting LDN Teleseminars and LDN Coaching sessions.  To learn more about both programs, please go to HonestMedicine.com, and click on the appropriate links at the top of the page.  For those patients who either attend my telesminars, or participate in my individualized coaching sessions, I have put together an impressive packet of information about LDN for them to take to their doctors.  I also provide them with strategies with which to share the materials. Of course, the strategies are more individualized for those patients whom I coach one on one.  The results so far have been encouraging. More people are convincing their doctors to prescribe LDN for them.  And many people with autoimmune diseases are benefiting.

The news about LDN is growing

There are many websites dedicated to spreading the word.  Foremost of these is LDNInfo.org, a website created and maintained by Dr. David Gluck (Dr. Bihari’s colleague) and his son Joel.  Another prominent site is Linda Elsegood’s LDN Research Trust.  Linda contributed a chapter to HONEST MEDICINE, in which she describes how LDN virtually gave her her life back after living for several years with the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis.  And there are other LDN sites, as well.

Also, check out the Facebook and Yahoo LDN groups. There are LDN groups for patients with several autoimmune diseases, including:

There are other Facebook groups for LDN that are more general, too. The most popular of these is “GOT ENDORPHINS? LDN” which, so far, has over 6,000 members.  And there are Yahoo groups, as well, for LDN in general, and for LDN and specific conditions.  All this points to people with autoimmune diseases learning more about LDN and being helped by it.  I am happy to be able to play a part in this effort.

For more information on LDN, in addition to my book, HONEST MEDICINE, please read Elaine Moore and Samantha Wilkinson’s book, The Promise of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy.  For a true account of one wife’s journey to find a treatment for her husband’s multiple sclerosis, read Mary Boyle Bradley’s Up the Creek with a Paddle.  And for an account of one man’s journey to finding LDN, read Joseph Wouk’s Google LDN.  All four books give lots of information about this cutting-edge treatment so many people are calling a cause celebre.

 

 About the Author 
Julia Schopick is a public relations consultant, patient advocate and health writer. When her husband Tim was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 1990, Julia found several innovative treatments that helped keep Tim alive for 12 years beyond the doctors’ expectations. Shockingly, doctors expressed little interest in these treatments, and some were openly hostile. This led Julia on a path of teaching patients to find innovative  treatments, such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid, the Ketogenic Diet and Silverlon, which she describes in her book, HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases. She provides informative on her website and has appeared on hundreds of radio programs to talk about the treatments in her book. She also conducts coaching sessions and teleseminars to educate the public about LDN. Find out more at: www.HonestMedicine.com,

Note: If you want to try LDN, but your doctor won’t prescribe it for you, Julia Schopick is conducting a 2-part teleseminar on October 22 & October 29 to teach participants about LDN and how to convince doctors to prescribe it.  Attendees will get a packet of specially prepared materials about LDN.  Please see HonestMedicine.com’s Teleseminar page for details.

Words from a patient:

Julia’s first LDN Teleseminar was a ground breaking event for so many! In these teleseminars, she addresses the biggest challenge myself and others have faced….getting a prescription for LDN from our doctor. This was my biggest challenge. Julia gave us the necessary tools to help us convince our doctors to prescribe LDN. In addition, she gave us the language to use, as well as the tools and the medical resources, documents and clinical studies that have been done on LDN so you can confidently convince your doctor to give you a prescription. Please don’t miss her upcoming teleseminar. The information she provides for you could change your life, as it has mine!  I will be there; I hope that you will too!

— Lexie Lindstrom

 

This post contains opinions of the author.  AutoimmuneMom.com is not a medical practice and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is your responsibility to seek diagnosis, treatment, and advice from qualified providers based on your condition and particular circumstances.  Camino Real Ventures, Inc., the company that makes AutoimmuneMom.com available to you, does not endorse nor recommend any products, practices, treatment methods, tests, physicians, service providers, procedures, clinical trials, opinions or information available on this website.  Your use of the website is subject to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

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Comments

  1. What a great article and wealth of information! I’ll be sharing it.

    In the third paragraph, you link to a PDF of a list of conditions LDN is suitable for, and when I viewed that, I tried clicking on a link in the upper-right corner of the document. It gave me an error, and looking again, I realized it was because there’s a typo in the web address. It’s supposed to be http://www.ldnresearchtrust.org but it’s misspelled as http://www.ldnresearhctrust.org. It’s not your mistake, but since it’s rather an important document, you may want to let them know.

  2. Thank you, I know many people through the years who have benefitted from LDN. I was very fortunate that my PCP was very willing to prescribe it for me. I was very happy that it is such a safe drug because I am so very sensitive to foods, drugs and so many artificial and synthetic food items. I am one of the very rare individuals who experienced adverse reactions to LDN including anaphalaxis. But, there were benefits too however after trying three different compounding pharmacies I have stopped using this product that has been referred to as a miracle drug by people I know. I am devastated by this because I was so hopeful. If anyone can help me with this , explain it to me and figure out why this is happening I will be so very grateful. I even tried it in less than a .5 mg dose and it affected my breathing. This is a very rare reaction and I need to know what is causing this. I have used different fillers, good pharmacies and confirmed that it is pure naltrexone powder. If anyone can offer me some guidance I will appreciate your assistance. Thank you.

  3. Oh, I also have a very clean diet for 5 years , NO Gluten, sugar, casein, corn, soy, processed foods, etc. I cook my own food, eat organic as much as possible. My sister using LDN and it changed her life for the better. Perhaps a scientist can look into reasons for this, it must be an immune reaction and testing showed high Immunogobulin E. Any information you can provide me I am deeply grateful.

  4. there is a product out of asia that is the same thing as LDN works great–please advise if you would like to order it-they ship it around the world–Choi

    • What is this product, Choi? Catherine, someone mentioned it may be available in liquid form. Don’t know if you’ve tried or asked for that? Just an idea.

  5. i am not sure–you can contact these people and they can advise you–these are the people that deal with cancer and other health issues and had to leave the states to continue their work–this is the email address– [email protected]

    • Katie Cleary says:

      Just wanted to jump in and say thanks for sharing this helpful info – very much appreciated.
      Warmly,
      Katie
      founder, AutoimmuneMom.com

  6. Please help and advise , my husband has lung cancer that is contained in the upper lobe, lympnodes came out positive, His surgeon advised him to go to oncologist, they are going to start chemo and radiation next week…Dr. refused LDN because it is not in the national guidelines, this just sickens me/ Help, I need some advise on getting LDN and whether he should start chemo. God Bless

  7. Angela Monteiro says:

    Hello, How do I get my Doctor to prescribe 1.5mg of LDN for my CFS and Fibromyalgia who won’t believe me??? Thank you Angela Monteiro in Napa CA.

  8. I just started using LDN three days ago and so far, very
    happy! If it wasn’t for The thyroid secret lecture, I would never know. Couldn’t be happier! What that means no more doctors, especially for this lousy Obamacare!!!

  9. E in Tampa Bay says:

    I have lupus. I am highly sensitive to almost all foods and chemicals. At 34, I’m practically a hermit. I developed intolerances to everything, including herbs and essential oils. There is no medication that does not make me sicker because of it’s ingredients and fillers and effect on the liver.
    3 days into LDN and I’m becoming the girl I used to be. Some things even seem better. Full disclosure, I was also given progesterone at the same time even though on papers my hormone levels don’t look too whacky, but hormones alone could not be this sense of wellness I haven’t felt in 7 years. I can think without pain, I feel my imagination working again, I am losing my limp and waddle and grunts every time I move, I can breathe normally, chronic sinuses are becoming unblocked, my mind is alert as opposed to daily brain fog and confusion, I eliminate in a way I forgot was normal, I can chop food and do dishes without pain and breaks every 5 minutes, and no anxiety (that’s the wildest improvement), I am in such a wonderful mood, no more severe eye pain, light and sound sensitivity, my body is regulating temperature, I don’t feel so sick when I eat, the sun didn’t hurt as bad as usual, I’m sleeping so soundfully at night it’s bizarre, my hair and skin are brighter as if they are nutritionally nourished, I have lost cravings and my unquenchable thirst is under control, my injured neck is slowly becoming more flexible as well as every muscle in my body. It does kind of feel like I am experiencing a mild detox, which is welcome since my body can’t absorb or eliminate anything. Before this, I felt like I was slowly and cruelly being shut down. It’s only been three days!!!

    Please ask your doctors about this, tell everyone, find a practitioner willing to investigate this. I visited Michelle Golding, ARNP in Carrollwood, Florida (Tampa Bay area) who does conventional AND holistic care. She was excited to help me when I met her and I didn’t know why. For $52 a month, I am regaining my life back. She believes many of my hyper-immunty issues will regulate and I may even lose some of the allergies and intolerances that I have developed in the last few years.

    • E. In Tampa Bay: I’m in Tampa Bay! Is MichelleGolding still practicing? My rheumatologist has me on otezla. I was on methotrexate briefly until I learned of the dangerous side effects. I have one kidney (donated the other) and trying not to create greater harm. My psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia are getting progressively worse and I fear permanent joint damage. Dr. Suggested a switch to enbrel. But it has high risk of infection…and he suggested I steer clear of sick people. I’m a teacher…my students are often sick and due to their disabilities , often do not cover up for sneezes or coughs. I’m not taking a risk with enbrel. I’d love to connect with Michelle Golding as I prefer to go as holistically as possible and have had a tough time finding a professional who works in that direction.

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