Low Dose Naltrexone May Improve Multiple Sclerosis Patient Quality of Life

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Low Dose Naltrexone for MS

Low Dose Naltrexone for MSLow dose naltrexone (LDN) may be on its way to becoming a new therapeutic agent for multiple sclerosis. Evidence for its efficacy in attenuating multiple sclerosis symptoms is scarce, but results of a phase 3 clinical trial, “A Randomized Placebo-Controlled, Crossover-Design Study of the Effects of Low Dose Naltrexone,” suggest that LDN enhances the mental health quality of life of patients with multiple sclerosis.

The trial, initiated in 2007 by a group led by Bruce Cree, MD, PhD, at the University of California, San Francisco, sought to evaluate changes in quality of life for multiple sclerosis patients following treatment with 4.5 mg naltrexone (LDN). Eighty patients were enrolled in the trial, and treatment was administered nightly for eight weeks. Of primary interest was a difference in mean score of the multiple sclerosis quality of life inventory (MSQLI54) between LDN-treated and placebo-treated patients.

According to results published in 2010 in the journal Annals of Neurology, at the end of the trial, sixty patients had completed treatment. Ten patients withdrew before the end of the first trial period, but none withdrew due to a multiple sclerosis-LDN adverse event. In fact, one patient withdrew early due to a perceived benefit of treatment. Results from the other ten patients were not available due to database management errors and incomplete quality of life surveys.

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Although the diminished number of patients reduced the trial’s statistical power, a significant improvement in mental health quality of life was identified. There was a 3.3-point improvement on the Mental Component Summary score of the Short Form-36 General Health Survey, a 6-point improvement on the Mental Health Inventory, a 1.6-point improvement on the Pain Effects Scale, and a 2.4-point improvement on the Perceived Low Dose Naltrexone MS researchDeficits Questionnaire.

Low-dose naltrexone is thought to affect immune function by increasing the level of endorphins in the body up to 100-300%. In addition, LDN may reduce microglial activity in the brain and reduce the amount of inflammation in the central nervous system. It is inexpensive and is given as a capsule once a day at bedtime. Virtually no serious side effects are associated with LDN–only a common complaint of disrupted sleep that rarely persists past one week of treatment. Yet before LDN can be indicated for use in multiple sclerosis patients, more studies must be conducted to evaluate its continued safety and efficacy.

LDN continues to make headlines in biotech and healthcare, not only for multiple sclerosis, but also for other diseases. Recently, IBD News Today reported on how low dose naltrexone may alleviate Crohn’s Disease symptoms, while biopharmaceutical company TNI BioTech Inc. recently announced its first shipment of Lodonal, an LDN immunotherapeutic, to The Republic of Panama and The Republic of Malawi for the treatment of cancers.

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Maureen Newman is a science columnist for BioNews Texas. She is currently a PhD student studying biomedical engineering at University of Rochester, working towards a career of research in biomaterials for drug delivery and regenerative medicine. She is an integral part of Dr. Danielle Benoit's laboratory, where she is investigating bone-homing therapeutics for osteoporosis treatment.
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  1. Cam says:

    I have been on 4.5mg LDN for over 5 years with great success. No relapses no side effects and feeling great. LDN for life for rrms.

  2. Trevor Robinson says:

    I have been Taking LDN for My MS since 2010. it took me a while toget it off my doctor but I have had no MS exacerbation since

  3. Marta Bjarnadóttir says:

    I have been taking LDN for my MS since June 2011 and I´m in much better shape today than I was when I started. I don´t use any “MS drugs” and have not since before I started on LDN.
    LDN for life in my case.

  4. Alexandra says:

    After learning I had PPMS, for which there is no treatment, I researched complementary and alternative treatments. I ran across LDN and have been on 4.5 mg nightly since early 2007. It is impossible to prove, but I feel it helps me immensely and holds progression at bay. I will not give it up!

    • Adrian says:

      Hi Alexandra, I have had PPMS for 2 Years now tried Gabapentin,Pregabalin,Baclofen And now Tizanidine and all make me feel worse its the spasticity that does me in getting about gets progressively worse during the day.
      Anyway as LDN helped your spasticity i,m guessing you get this.
      I,m in the UK and my nurse says it no good ?????
      Thanks Adie.

      • Trevor Robinson says:

        And that is why she/he is a nurse and not a Doctor! she is not in the position to prescribe Drugs for a start off!
        tell her/him to STFU an do some research..

  5. Kat says:

    I was dx’d in 2008 after 1 event and lucky enough to have an open minded GP who prescribed LDN for me. My energy improved within 2 days, and once my other symptoms subsided I’ve been relapse and symptom-free ever since (mid-2009). I recommended a client try it as her MS was progressing rapidly. When I saw her several months later, she hugged me and told me I’d saved her life! She was having major symptom relief. Let’s hope more doctors open their minds and just let PWMS try it!

    • Craig says:

      Hi Terri. You don’t mention if you are on any ms meds? I’m in my fifth year of ms. Tried Betaseron for 5 years and only took half doses 3/4 days apart. Got to where I was a ‘pin cushion’ and couldn’t take the shots any longer. Plus many reactions along the way. Was going to try Tecfidera oral pill but reading the side affects changed my mind plus they wanted $10,000 a month for 30 pills!!! Started LDN a month a go. Started at 1.5 and getting ready to receive the 3.0 in a few days. Very mild and inexpensive!!! and no side effects so far. All these years I have gone vegetarian, gluten free and lactose free and am a firm believer in diet and low inflammation foods and being aware of food allergies.(see Dr. Terri Wahls and her story) I like LDN and will continue cause it is user friendly. These very hot/humid days are making us feel worse, and hopefully will break soon. Feel free to communicate with me , if needed, as I’m wanting to maintain this disease. I went TOTALLY paralyzed for over a month in the start of this and went blind in one eye also for a month. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way and can walk and use a walker for longer journeys but have come a long way!! You have a lot of experience in years with this and hope you can get somewhat better! Thanks.

  6. Malik says:

    Hi everyone I been on the Swank diet for the last four years without any attacks. I have added LDN to my protocol in the last year and are doing great. My latest MRI showed no further progression of my disease or no enhance new lesion.I have never taking any Of the ABC drugs for my MS and never will I ever. LDN is a no brainer

  7. Autumn says:

    Hey guys. I am 23 and I was diagnosed 2 years ago with RRMS. I’ve pretty consistently had symptoms develop through the 2 years, and most recently I’ve had vertigo so debilitating I can’t go to work. I work in healthcare with college athletes, so my schedule is all over the place. I have been on Avonex (which I HATED), Tysabri (which I didn’t mind), and most recently Tecfidera. I have had to get 5 MRI’s in the past 6 months because of new symptoms. The dr keeps saying my MRI’s are stable, but I am still getting new symptoms and having problems. They don’t want to treat aggressively because they don’t see anything on the scans. At this point, I am not sure what else to try. We are probably going to switch my back to the Tysabri, but do you think this LDN would help?

  8. Judy says:

    Hi everyone,
    I’m 59, was diagnosed in 1993 after a solvent allergy brought on MS (acknowledged in Finland and Norway). Never had any relapses or anything, only 3 week attacks after solvent exposures which went away each time like they never happened. But I’ve heard that RRMS can (does?) turn into secondary progressive after menopause no matter how clean and organic one’s lifestyle is. Does anyone know if LDN is effective for women after menoapuse? Thanks in advance!

    • Lorraine says:

      RRMS may turn SPMS approx 10-15 years after diagnosis. This is not definite! If your RRMS has not been very active you are less likely to become SPMS because its caused by permenant damage to nerves. Repeated relapses cause the myelin to break down and eventually won’t repair itself. When the myelin is damaged them the actual nerve inside can become damaged. This doesn’t repair itself and causes permanent disability. This is SPMS.

  9. todd says:

    My wife was diagnosed with rrms last week. She is 48 and we are wondering about menopause as well. I have been researching LDN verses Copaxone. The ms neuro wants us to choose between Copaxone and Techfidera. We are at the beginning of this journey and want to make the best choice.

  10. Shirley says:

    PLEASE DO YOUR RESEARCH ON DMD “DISEASE MODIFYING DRUGS”. That is exactly what they are … who wants their disease modified? Who wants to further suppress their immune system and subject themselves to more meds to suppress further symptoms and issues. There has been absolutely no proof that MS is an autoimmune condition. It is something these MS experts have been touting for almost seven decades. Until there is DOCUMENTED PROOF these drugs will only do further damage to your organs (all of them). I have yet to be proven wrong and waiting going on year seven for them to to do so.
    LDN is not a DMD which makes it something worth checking out. There was and still is negativity by some neuros on LDN. It’s too cheap a fix hence not any good! Did not work for me but, #CCSVI sure did considering how long and much damage I have received for going on 27 years.
    If there is documented proof regarding the immune system causing MS I sure would love to see it. Prove me wrong …. Please.

    • Marie says:

      What is CCSV, and I am correct in understanding that LDN did not work for you? I have been battling MS, they put me on Copaxone, I am still struggling with symptoms. I just started LDN, currently going through another relapse.

  11. Marta Bjarnadottir says:

    I have been using LDN since June 2011 and actually owe my life to that drug. After only few months using LDN my neurologist (who accepted to let me try LDN) could not recognize me for the same person as before, he really was stunned too see me and the progress I had made.
    I can not use MS drugs because of allergy and heart problems and really thought my life was over. Searching the internet I found my lifesaver (LDN) and I will be thankful for the rest of my life.
    I know my MS is still there and I am not cured but my days are so so much better and my whole life is so much better and that´s what I was looking for course we have not found cure for MS yet but hopefully it will be soon.
    Till then LDN – love and better health to all of us…..

    • Judy E. says:

      What is the average dosage to take of LDN? I take 3mg at present. I’d love to hear how much other people are taking. Many thanks.

      • Marta Bjarnadottir says:

        My dose is 2 – 2,5 ml (liquid). I tried up to and over 3 ml and then my spasms got worse so I figured out I´d maybe have those bigger dosage later on if needed.
        Don´t know if that´s right or not….

        Hope you understand my English….

        • Craig says:

          Started with 1.5 then to 3.0. Started having pains in my lower right side and really ‘knocked out’ tired feeling. Very sensitive to Medications. Now taking 1.5 every other day or 3 days and it is helping me! We’re all different and have to experiment what works for you?

          • Emma ward says:

            Hi Peeps, I was diagnosed November 2004, rushed in to hospital with suspected brain tumour or b,s,e. had MRI & delightfully dr says ‘good news Emma you have multiple sclerosis’ petrified, never Evan heard of this, following year got in touch with a wonderful lady who introduced me to Ldn 6 years I took care of my ms, successfully, my consultant then wanted to introduce me to the joys of modern medicine, been on everything, 10 steps back with every med, I’m on gilenja at moment, ok, but I don’t have a life, ordered 1.5mg Ldn, wana get back on it, but don’t know if I should just stop gilenja or not, any one having same experience? Emma.

        • Judy E. says:

          Thank you Marta! I understand you perfectly. Spasms started after reaching 3 ml. I started from 1.5 ml, so I’ll go down to 2.5 ml and see how I feel. xo

        • Judy E. says:

          Hi Marta,
          Thanks for your answer! I lowered my LDN dose to 2.00 as soon as I read your reply and have had almost no problems with spams, even though I’m older and have become secondary progressive-ish.

          • Marta Bjarnadottir says:

            Hi Judy,
            I´m happy to see everything is better with you and hope it continues that way.

  12. Tina Hemsley says:

    Have beenough diagnosed a year ago with ms. Currently on rebif since October 2015. All my symptoms have been exaggerated and have severe drop foot. Still working as hairdresser part time now as I am physically drained by my work. Seeing my consultant next week and want to start LDN. Am in England and hope it will be agreed. Have read lots about it and will go armed with research to consultant. Have been left to cope no back up so I feel I am best judge of my treatment and have read it could help my foot palsy. Is this the case? Fed up with the struggle of working as my colleagues know me as a hard worker but ms is invisible……..

  13. Carmel Blanchard says:

    Is anyone able to advise me on which medications I should stop before starting on LDN? I have PPMS and my doctor is happy to start a trial, although he doesn’t know much about the treatment itself, so Im doing my own research.
    Currently I am on daily amounts of Citalopram (Celexa), Ibuprofen, Codeine and Zoplicone (Imovane) for sleep. Do I need to stop all or any of these before starting on LDN?
    Many thanks.

    • Marta Bjarnadóttir says:

      At least you should not use opioid/codeine related drugs at same time as LDN.
      I used to take Imovane and Ibuprofen and that was ok but now I don´t need those drugs anymore thanks to LDN 🙂
      Don´t know about Citalopram (Celexa).
      Hope LDN is going to help you as mush as it has helped me since 2011.

      (hope you understand my English)

  14. Jenny says:

    I just went for my yearly appointment with my doctor yesterday. Was told my MS has progressed and need to start a new treatment or I may not be able to walk in a year. I’ve taken Avonex and Tecfidera with no success. Wanted to try to treat with diet and exercise but was told that may not be wise. I’ve had MS for 10 years and need some help/advice. My daughter came across a story today of a lady use uses naltrexone and no longer suffers from MS. I live in the US and am very interested in learning more about this med for MS

  15. amany sabet says:

    I am a 53 yrs old female with ppms since 1999.. recently started ldn april 2016 with 4.5mg dose…i feel sleep disturbance lately… should i go down to 3mg or 4.5mg is more effective

    • Vic says:

      hi, stick with 4.5mg and see a acupuncturist for sleep disturbances. Don’t eat anything after your nightly dose of ldn, I find it less effective.

  16. Kathy D says:

    I am 58 with ms since 1998. Rr then switched to secondary. Been on all the dmds. Tons of spasticity. Exhausted. Use a scooter at work and a cane otherwise. So frustrated with my situation. Drugs have not worked for me. I am getting desperate. Baclophen pump has been a huge disappointment too.

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