Patients living with chronic pain or autoimmune diseases constantly need painkillers to numb the pain and go on with their day.
However, traditional painkillers often come with tons of negative side effects, and many find themselves struggling to manage their symptoms.
Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is a new medication that can provide pain relief for these patients without unwanted side effects.
In this article, we’ll explain how to safely and legally get low-dose naltrexone and everything you need to know before trying it.
What Is Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)?
Naltrexone is a medication typically used to treat opioid use disorder, or opioid addiction, along with other substance abuse disorders. It’s available in many forms, the most popular of which are oral pills and intramuscular injections.
The regular oral naltrexone pill contains 50mg to 100 mg of the active ingredient.
When given in lower-than-normal doses, naltrexone can also be used for a vast number of conditions ranging from chronic pain to autoimmune diseases.
Low or even ultra-low dose naltrexone is usually 10% or less of the original addition treatment dose, which equates to about 5mg or less.
How Does Low-Dose Naltrexone Work?
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks opioid receptors. This prevents opioids from causing euphoria, pain relief, and other effects that often contribute to opioid addiction.
However, scientists have found that at low doses, naltrexone exhibits paradoxical properties that contradict its original use. It has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which don’t appear when taken in large doses.
Low-dose naltrexone also has the ability to modulate the immune system, making the body less likely to attack itself. LDN can make autoimmune diseases less severe by regulating the immune system’s response.
Many studies have shown that low-dose naltrexone also promotes a feeling of well-being. This is because, regardless of the dose, naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks opioid receptors no matter how small an amount you take.
When these opioid receptors are occupied, this temporarily prevents your body’s natural endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, from binding to the receptors. This causes your body to start producing more endorphins, which improves your mood and sense of well-being.
Low-dose naltrexone can stay bound to your brain’s opioid receptors, triggering more endorphin release for up to six hours.
What Is Low-Dose Naltrexone Used For?
Here are a few common indications for LDN.
One of the most popular uses for low-dose naltrexone is pain relief. It’s a viable alternative to opioids, which run a high risk of dependence and addiction.
It’s also a great alternative to prednisone, which is a steroid. Many people aren’t allowed to take steroids for inflammation because steroids can weaken your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infections and diseases.
Low-dose naltrexone’s endorphin-boosting effects make it a possible choice for patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders.
It’s much safer than other anti-anxiety medications and has little chance of addiction or causing withdrawal symptoms.
Low-dose naltrexone is often prescribed for autoimmune diseases because it prevents a dysfunctional immune system from attacking body cells and destroying them.
Some of the autoimmune disorders that can benefit from low-dose naltrexone include:
- Autoimmune Hepatitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Graves’ Thyroid Disease
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
How to Buy Low-Dose Naltrexone
While regular-dose naltrexone has been FDA-approved for opioid addiction, low-dose naltrexone is still under study by the FDA. Most of the uses for low-dose naltrexone are off-label uses, and you’ll need a prescription to obtain it.
Unlike regular-dose naltrexone, LDN isn’t readily produced in tablet form. You can only find it at compounding pharmacies, where they take the 50mg naltrexone tablets and convert them to 5 mg, or even lower concentrations, for low-dose uses.
Patients who have a hard time swallowing pills and tablets can also ask their compounding pharmacist to change the form of administration into sublingual drops, lotions, or liquids. This is usually done with lower doses of naltrexone of about 2 mg, which can be applied topically as well as orally.
Since LDN isn’t yet FDA-approved, most insurance companies don’t cover it. You’ll likely need to buy it out of pocket even if you have a prescription. As it gains traction and more studies are made to support its use, it might get better insurance coverage in the future.
Low-Dose Naltrexone Side Effects
Since regular-dose naltrexone is relatively safe, smaller doses are also considered safe to use with minimal side effects.
Some of these side effects are sleep-related, with some people reporting vivid dreams, insomnia, and mild sleep disturbances.
That said, patients with Hashimoto’s disease should be careful when taking low-dose naltrexone along with thyroid replacement drugs.
That’s because LDN lowers the autoimmune antibodies causing Hashimoto’s disease. So talk to your doctor and discuss if you need to lower your thyroid replacement medication as your condition improves.
Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is worth considering if you’re looking for a less invasive way to boost your mood, reduce pain, or tackle an autoimmune condition.
You should know low-dose naltrexone is still in the phase of being studied, but preliminary anecdotal evidence is promising.
If you need to talk to a doctor and would rather not spend a long time waiting in line, book an appointment with one of Curednation’s telemedicine physicians who can help you today.