We frequently compound medications in doses that are not commercially available, often for other uses than the higher dose manufactured products. For example, naltrexone is a drug that is commercially available only as 50 mg oral tablets which are used to help manage alcohol or opioid dependence (“addiction”). Accumulating evidence indicates that low dose naltrexone (LDN) can stimulate the immune system and reduce autoimmune and cancer processes. LDN may also play a role in healing and repair of tissues, as well as relieving stress, helping with social bonding emotional well-being, and improving symptoms of autism and depression. Yet, it is doubtful that large scale studies will ever be done to investigate potential indications for the much lower dose of naltrexone (3.0-4.5 mg orally, taken once daily at bedtime) “because there’s no profit motive to fund research on an inexpensive drug with an expired patent.”
The safety and efficacy of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) were tested in patients with active Crohn's disease. 89% of patients responded to therapy and 67% achieved a remission. Quality of the patients’ lives improved.
A study at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at the University of California in San Francisco evaluated the benefit of eight weeks of treatment with 4.5 mg naltrexone (LDN), taken each night at bedtime, on quality of life of in MS patients. 80 subjects with clinically confirmed multiple sclerosis were enrolled and 60 subjects completed the trial. LDN was well tolerated and serious side events did not occur. LDN was associated with significant improvement on mental health quality of life surveys.
At the Integrative Medical Center of New Mexico and New Mexico State University, a protocol utilizing LDN and intravenous alpha-lipoic acid (ALA/LDN) and a healthy lifestyle program has produced long-term survival without toxic side effects for patients with pancreatic cancer with or without metastases. Berkson and Rubin described the case of a male patient with pancreatic cancer and metastases to the liver who was told by a reputable university oncology center in October 2002 that there was little hope for his survival. In a followup report, the patient was alive and well 78 months after initial presentation: back at work, free from symptoms, and without appreciable progression of his malignancy. Three additional pancreatic cancer case studies were published in December, 2009. At that time, the first patient, GB, was alive and well 39 months after presenting with adenocarcinoma of the pancreas with metastases to the liver. The second patient, JK, who presented to the clinic with the same diagnosis was treated with the ALA/N protocol and after 5 months of therapy, PET scan demonstrated no evidence of disease. The third patient, RC, in addition to his pancreatic cancer with liver and retroperitoneal metastases, had a history of B-cell lymphoma and prostate adenocarcinoma. After 4 months of the ALA/LDN protocol, his PET scan demonstrated no signs of cancer. The authors discussed the value of alpha-lipoic acid as an agent that reduces oxidative stress and its discriminative ability to discourage the proliferation of malignant cells; plus the ability of low dose naltrexone to stimulate the immune system.
We are not suggesting that LDN be used in place of other treatment for cancer.
Although sleep disturbances are rare, some patients using LDN have reported vivid dreams. To avoid this, therapy can be started with a lower dose and increased slowly over two months.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is available only by prescription from compounding pharmacies.
Health and Healing. May 2010. Vol. 20, No. 5