Today I am addressing the question, “What is Low Dose Naltrexone?”
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QUESTION: Do you want me to write about LDN?! —> Something a little different today for #SupplementSunday – a medication. ✨ Gasp! Medication? YOU take medication? I do! And where I once felt a lot of shame around that, I no longer do. (<— a whole different conversation for another day). ✨ I take (and have taken) LDN (Low Dose Naltrexone) for a very long time. I take it for added help with motility (as a prokinetic), and believe this medication has been crucial for my healing. ✨ I get asked about it all the time. @marksissonprimal says it’s a medication for “seemingly everything.” ✨ Have you heard of it? Do you use it? .⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀ .⠀⠀⠀ Find hundreds of gut healing posts via . (Make sure you’re following @agutsygirl and click “Turn on Post Notifications” in the upper right corner so you never miss a post). Grab the 286 page gut healing e-book, THE GUTSY GIRL’S BIBLE: AN APPROACH TO HEALING THE GUT, 3.0 now via link in profile.⠀⠀⠀ www.agutsygirl.com .⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ .⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ #AGG #agutsygirl #IBS #iin #guthealing #ibd #healthcoach #guthealth #leakygut #autoimmunedisease #colitis #ibsdiet #crohns #lowfodmap #gutfriendly #lowfodmapdiet #gapsdiet #aipdiet #healthylifestyle #chronicfatigue #glutenfree #healthcoaching #leakygutsyndrome #healthygut #guthealthy #AIPdiet #prokinetic #dairyfree
What is Low Dose Naltrexone
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First, for those who take and prescribe Low Dose Naltrexone, it is typically abbreviated to LDN so I’ll use that for the rest of this post.
LDN is a lower dose of Naltrexone (clever, right? Low Dose Naltrexone). Naltrexone was synthesized in 1963 as an orally active competitive opioid receptor antagonist. What does that mean? It blocks opioid receptors in your brain. (Opioid = a compound resembling opium in addictive properties or physiological effects.)
Thus, Naltrexone HCl was approved by FDA in 1984 for the treatment of opioid addiction. The typical daily dosage for opioid addiction is 50.0–100.0 mg daily, and 50.0-mg tablets are available commercially.
Naloxone vs Naltrexone
(Side thought from Dr. Amy Myers – particularly interesting to me since we live in Minnesota, “You may have heard of Naltrexone’s sister medication, Naloxone, which was in the news quite a bit at the time of Prince’s death. It potentially could have saved his life had he received it in time.
Naloxone works by actively stripping opioids from receptors, effectively stopping an overdose from opioids in its tracks. While working as an emergency room physician in Baltimore, I routinely used this drug to save the lives of patients who had overdosed on drugs.”)
When LDN is used in lower doses (in most published research this is 4.5 mg – exactly what I take, in fact) it, “exhibits paradoxical properties, including analgesia and anti-inflammatory actions, which have not been reported at larger dosages.”
How Does LDN Work?
When lower doses of Naltrexone are taken they actually, “increase the level of endorphins in your body by only partially blocking your opioid receptors briefly when your endorphin levels are typically highest (around 3AM to 4AM). This signals to your brain that your levels are low, so it ramps up the production of endorphins, increasing your overall levels.”
How that helps you if you’re taking LDN for an autoimmune condition is because endorphins play a role in immune system modulation.
Autoimmune patients (and cancer patients) typically have lower levels of endorphins than people without autoimmunity (or cancer).
The small pill is taken at night before bed, 9pm is optimal, as that allows for the medication to reach peak effectiveness at 4am, right when your endorphin levels should be highest.
Conditions LDN is Used to Treat
Here is a list of all conditions LDN can and has been used to treat:
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- Crohn’s disease
- HIV or AIDS
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Ulcerative Colitis (UC)
- ….and more
Low Dose Naltrexone Side Effects
Low Dose Naltrexone has proven to have minimal (if any) side effects, but like any other pill (or even supplement for that matter) you take, side effects are possible.
Here are some side effects of LDN that have been noted:
- Vivid Dreams
My Personal Experience on LDN
I was first prescribed LDN in 2014/2015 to help with the autoimmune condition I was diagnosed with in 2008, Colitis.
A key underlying cause of SIBO is thought to be deficiency of the migrating motor complex, which moves bacteria down into the large intestine during fasting at night and between meals. Prokinetics stimulate the migrating motor complex, symptomatically correcting this underlying cause. source
Thus, I continue taking LDN to this day to help keep the SIBO gone.
And in my personal experiences, LDN has been wonderful. Lately, I have been mildly experiencing most of the symptoms as noted above. That said, the pros have far outweighed the cons. Once I started taking it, everything seemingly got better (for the drug’s intended purpose).
How Long Does it Take for Low Dose Naltrexone to Work
In my personal experiences, LDN worked immediately. The way in which I think it worked immediately was from a prokinetic standpoint.
However, for other symptoms and conditions, it might take weeks to months in order to realize its benefits.
When you start using it, just keep track via the 90-day gut healing journal I’ve created. The PDF download version is HERE. Or, you can have a spiral-bound, hard-cover gut healing journal shipped directly to you.
How You Can Get Low Dose Naltrexone
There is kind of a catch with LDN. It’s actually not approved by the FDA for autoimmune conditions, which means it’s not commercially available. Dr. Amy Myers suggests,
For that reason, you will need to have a compounding pharmacy fill your prescription. It is best to work with a compounding pharmacy who is familiar with making LDN to ensure that they are not compounding a slow release formula, and that they do not add calcium carbonate as a filler (which can slow the absorption of the medication).
If you see an integrative or functional doctor, they will be able to get it for you. I’ve now gone to one in California and one in Southern Minnesota – both have made getting it for me super easy. In fact, here are the two compounding pharmacies I have obtained a 4.5mg dose from:
Most Western doctors will not prescribe it, but can and if you go about it the right way (read: Beginner’s Guide to Digestive Health Testing), you might be pleasantly surprised.
Questions? Let me know in the comments.
Also, have you taken LDN / do you take it? I’d love to hear your personal experiences with the medication.
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You will heal. I will help.