Low-Dose Naltrexone Usage for Multiple Sclerosis Patients
(c) 2001 Brewer Science Library, All rights reserved Excerpted from New Horizons, Winter 2000 / Spring 2001 double issue
by Christina L. White
Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) for autoimmune disorders has been suggested by Dr. Bernard Bihari of New York City (212-929-4196). He has used it to keep a large group of AIDS patients from progressing to a more advanced stage. His experience using it with MS patients and other autoimmune disorders has been limited but very encouraging. Dr. Bihari said that his experience has been that LDN usage in the first year would reduce exacerbations by 90%.
One of the great responders to LDN is a female MS patient who has had MS for 16 years. Betaseron and steroid usage did not stop her progression. This year she also tried the histamine treatment and found some minor symptom improvement. The dramatic and significant improvements she obtained in her balance, optic neuritis, brain fog, and leg pain she credits to naltrexone. She began taking it in the middle of an exacerbation and it stopped the severe spasticity she was experiencing. Continued use of LDN has changed her life. She is now able to travel and do things she hasn't done in years. She also maintains herself on a low-fat, allergy-free diet, gets enough rest and tries to keep her stress level down. As she enthusiastically says, "but I was doing those things before I started naltrexone, and they did not make this much improvement in my life."
Another person with optic neuritis who improved on Dr. Nieper's calcium EAP protocol, found even greater improvement when she added LDN to her protocol. She has had to be off of naltrexone for over six weeks due to surgery that required her to take morphine-based painkillers (naltrexone should not be taken at the same time as morphine based pain killers since they use the same receptors and then the morphine will not work to reduce pain). She is looking forward to going back on the LDN protocol.
Another MS patient, who has experienced an unusually stressful year in her personal life, feels that without the LDN she would have completely fallen apart and had many exacerbations.
Another MS patient reported that she wasn't sure if LDN had made her feel any better, but without it she recognized that she definitely felt worse.
Starting Low-Dose Naltrexone: Dr. Bihari has found naltrexone to be helpful in autoimmune disorders in a dosage range of 1.5 mg to 4.5 mg. The majority of people are given a prescription for 3 mg, which is taken just before bed. The only side effect that many people have experienced has been sleep disturbance in the first few weeks of usage. One way people have found to reduce even this minor side effect has been to only take one-third of the powder in the capsule each evening for a week, and then gradually in the second week take two-thirds of the capsule. Finally by the third week most people can take the full 3 mg capsule without it causing any disturbance in their sleep.
There are some rare individuals who can't seem to tolerate naltrexone at the 3 mg dosage. In those cases Dr. Bihari has suggested that they remain at a lower dosage of 2 mg or even 1.5 mg.
Expected Results: Some people expect an immediate and significant response to naltrexone use. Although this may occur in a small number of cases, Dr. Bihari's experience is that naltrexone should be tried for six to nine months before giving up on it.
It works by "tweaking" the pituitary to increase the production and release of endorphins, which "communicate" with and help to regulate the immune system. It may take some time to correct an imbalanced immune system.
One person reported that by taking a LDN capsule in the daytime she was able to stop her spasticity.
DL-Phenylalanine: The amino acid DL-phenylalanine has been reported to slow down the breakdown of endorphins and other painkillers. Daytime usage of this amino acid (taken on an empty stomach) may help to sustain the benefit of nighttime usage of naltrexone by maintaining high levels of endorphins.
Fillers: Check with the pharmacy to make sure either calcium, cornstarch or some other fast release filler is used in the naltrexone capsules. Those with lactose sensitivities need to check for lactose-free capsules.
Compounding Pharmacies for 3 mg naltrexone: Option Care Compounding Pharmacy 800-679-4667 Prescription Center 800-203-9066
NOTE: One MS patient said the least expensive naltrexone could be obtained through a prescription for a few 50 mg caps or tabs. One 50 mg tab would be crushed and mixed in 50 ml of distilled water, which would be shaken and then 3 ml taken before bed. People using this method must make sure no slow release fillers are used. Back issues of New Horizons
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