Naltrexone is traditionally used for the treatment of addiction to alcohol or opioids because of its ability to block the action of the opioid or alcohol, making them less appealing to those who are addicted. Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has also been used as a treatment for a variety of conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) to help with pain relief — but could it be useful in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS)?
According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a clinical trial in 2010 of 60 MS patients taking low-dose naltrexone found that it could improve quality of life for those suffering from various types of multiple sclerosis. The trial reported that areas such as pain management, mental health and cognitive function improved while patients were taking the drug.
Another smaller trial in 2008 of 40 patients with primary-progressive MS who took LDN for six months found that it helped significantly in managing fatigue and depression, although there were side effects such as sleep disturbances, urinary tract infections and increases in liver enzymes.
However, also in 2010, a 96-patient trial found no significant difference in quality of life between the group taking LDN and the placebo group, with the researchers concluding that research needed to be conducted over a longer period of time to properly assess the efficacy of low-dose naltrexone.
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