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
Sources: Natural Medicine Journal, Dr. Amy Myers, and LDN.org
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.
But I continue to take it today, even after my last Colonoscopy and Endoscopy results because LDN also acts as a prokinetic. [click HERE for an entire list of prokinetics]
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:
- Skip’s Pharmacy in Florida
- Lake Elmo Compounding Pharmacy in Minnesota
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.
You can learn more directly from the Low Dose Naltrexone website. Consider also grabbing, The LDN Book.
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.
Hi! Thank You for this fabulous article. Just to be clear the compounding pharmacy will definitely need a prescription from my doctor in order to compound this 4.5mg dose, correct? Early in the article you mentioned that the 50mg dose is available commercially to treat opioid addiction so I wasn’t sure if that means the compounding pharmacy does not need a script to create the 4.5mg dose?
Thanks so much,
Hi! Yes, they would definitely need a prescription!
I’ve been following your blog and IG for some time and I really dig what you stand for and the way you present information.
I wanted to say THANK YOU for doing a blog post on LDN. I have fibromyalgia and SIBO and take LDN and it has helped tremendously! Funny enough, I also work at a compounding pharmacy in Oregon!
When explaining to people what LDN is and how it works, it is easy to sound like an infomercial, “it helps fix everything!” However, I think you did an awesome job and just wanted to give you a shout out for that!
Thanks for being a great voice in the gut health world!
Thank you so kindly, Rachel! Cool to meet someone who works at a compounding pharmacy, too. Xox
I am taking this for anxiety and depression. I’m at 1.5 right now but havent seen much results but no side effects either. Hoping it helps.
Is the any posibility to get resistance to LDN Naltrexone ? – taking it as a prokinetic drug to improve gut motility.
I dont know if i made myself clear and you know what i mean by get resistance. My english is not good enough 🙂
I was diagnosed with UC in 2005. My doctor at that time wanted to instantly put me on medication. I declined. For one, I am allergic to sulfa and the meds he suggested had that in it. And two, I was afraid of side affects of any other medication. I have self treated for years by eliminating gluten and dairy for the most part, I still use butter on occasion. I started seeing a natropath in 2017. She has put me on supplements that have helped although I do still have flare ups from time to time. I’m going to see her today and will mention LDN to her.
My husband and I are taking a cruise in March and I need to feel better before that.
I will also give the bone broth a try.
thank you for this blog!!!
Good luck! Hang in there.
Thank you for sharing. I was diagnosed last week and really want to attempt to treat it with diet as well. Do you mind me asking if your disease has become any worse over the years or is your diet keeping that at bay? Thank you in advance for your response,
Hey! I live in MN and just got a prescription for LDN. Do you mind me asking much you pay? The compounding pharmacy I was referred to charges 48$ for a month supply.
Hi Ashton! I’m pretty sure I pay about that much.
hi! does this drug interacts with sertraline or vortirexine?
I’m not sure. You’ll have to work with your doctor on any interactions.
Did you find out? I am curious as well.
Does it help out ms into remission
I think I’ve seen some studies with LDN and MS, but definitely just bring this information to your doctor and work with him/her.
I’ve been taking 3mg LDN for about 5 years for Scleroderma (CREST) and recently took a break for 6 months and really noticed an increase in my symptoms . I am now back on it. It seems to work and I was fortunate, my family doctor was open to it when I originally asked for it. It’s not a cure however it helps me feel better with no ongoing side effects. When I first starting taking it I had vivid dreams but they subsided quickly. My compounding pharmacy always has it ready and they say they fill a lot of prescriptions for it, it seems many people are using it off-label. These days we have to advocate for ourselves. It’s not a cure but it definitely helps.
I just started Rifaximin for methane dominant SIBO. Did you take LDN with Rifaximin or after you were finished? I need something for motility. absolutely miserable. And I know SIBO won’t heal if things don’t get moving.
Hi! Well first, when I took the antibiotics for Methane, it was Rifaximin + Neomycin. And I was taking LDN all along 🙂 Hope that helps.
My doctor is only letting me take 180 days. Not something I can always be on. But I love it. I took for 90 days and can totally tell a difference with my bowels for sure. Not as bloated either. Hope it will stay like this after my other 90 days.
Good luck! Keep me posted.