What is low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) and why is it important?
Low-dose Naltrexone holds great promise for the millions of people worldwide with autoimmune diseases or central nervous system disorders or who face a deadly cancer.
In the developing world, LDN could provide the first low-cost, easy to administer, and side-effect-free therapy for HIV/AIDS.
Naltrexone itself was approved by the FDA in 1984 in a 50mg 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 our 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 3mg once a day) on the body’s immune system. He found that this low dose, taken at bedtime, was able to enhance a patient’s response to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. [Note: Subsequently, the optimal adult dosage of LDN has been found to be 4.5mg.]
In the mid-1990’s, Dr. Bihari found that patients in his practice with cancer (such as lymphoma or pancreatic cancer) could benefit, in some cases dramatically, from LDN. In addition, people who had an autoimmune disease (such as lupus) often showed prompt control of disease activity while taking LDN.
LDN has demonstrated efficacy in thousands of cases.
Cancer. As of mid-2004, Dr. Bihari reported having treated over 300 patients who had a cancer that had failed to respond to standard treatments. Of that group, some 50%, after four to six months treatment with LDN, began to demonstrate a halt in cancer growth and, of those, over one-third have shown objective signs of tumor shrinkage.
Autoimmune diseases. Within the group of patients who presented with an autoimmune disease (see above list), 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.
HIV/AIDS. As of September 2003, Dr. Bihari had been treating 350 AIDS patients using LDN in conjunction with accepted AIDS therapies. Over the prior 7 years over 85% of these patients showed no detectable levels of the HIV virus — a much higher success rate than most current AIDS treatments, and with no significant side effects. It is also worth noting that many HIV/AIDS patients have been living symptom-free for years taking only LDN with no other medications.
Central Nervous System disorders. Anecdotal reports continue to be received concerning beneficial effects of LDN on the course of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS—Lou Gehrig’s disease), and primary lateral sclerosis. Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless has found a very positive effect of LDN, in appropriately reduced dosage and applied as a transdermal cream, in children with autism.
How is it possible that one medication can impact such a wide range of disorders?
The disorders listed above all share a particular feature: in all of them, the immune system plays a central role. Low blood levels of endorphins are generally present, contributing to the disease-associated immune deficiencies.
Research by others — on neuropeptide receptors expressed by various human tumors — has found opioid receptors in many types of cancer:
- Brain tumors (both astrocytoma and glioblastoma)
- Breast cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
- Myeloid leukemia
- Lung cancer (both small cell and non-small cell)
- Neuroblastoma and others…
These findings suggest the possibility for a beneficial LDN effect in a wide variety of common cancers.
What diseases has it been useful for and how effective is it?
Bernard Bihari, MD, as well as other physicians and researchers, have described beneficial effects of LDN on a variety of diseases:
Other Autoimmune Diseases: