Could Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) help some thyroid patients to calm down the immune system, and reduce thyroid destruction in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has been used and approved to treat opioid addiction and alcohol addiction – at high doses.
When naltrexone is taken in low doses it is known as low dose naltrexone or LDN. LDN has been shown by researchers to work in a different way to naltrexone.
LDN stimulates the production of more endorphins, which can modulate the immune system and re-balance any excessive immune system responses.
Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist, which can modulate the immune system through its effect on opioid receptors. It is claimed that any side effects of LDN are minor.
LDN is usually used with a starting dose of 0.5-1 milligrams, rising to 4.5 milligrams at the most. Therapeutic doses can be anywhere in the middle of that range and frequently between 2 and 3.5 mg.
Taking too much LDN can cause side effects, so increases are usually by only 0.5 milligrams and only every 4-6 weeks.
Although extensive clinical trials have not been done specifically on LDN, there is information available on the safety of the much higher dosage Naltexone, which is an approved medication.
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is currently being used to treat some autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease. Other autoimmune conditions may also benefit from LDN treatment. Research teams are continuing to investigate the potentially very important benefits that LDN is alleged to bring.
I have communicated with many Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients who have told me that LDN has made their Hashimoto’s autoantibodies drop to lower levels. They say it has relieved many of their symptoms including fibromyalgia.
Some claim that LDN has fixed their fibromyalgia or brain fog.
I have also spoken to patients with other autoimmune conditions who have told me that LDN has made a significant difference in their lives, and in many cases has eradicated their symptoms. I know some patients have tried LDN without any benefit though. So, it appears to be very individual and I do not think this is understood yet.
It is important to be absolutely clear that full clinical trials resulting in approval to use LDN for a wide range of autoimmune thyroid conditions have not been done yet. Campaigners are in the process of trying to get approval for these trials.
There is a reasonable amount of information on LDN available on the Internet and via patient-based forums.
I do not know if LDN will turn out to be widely used by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients but at least for some, it appears to help.
Here are some resources for thyroid patients who want to find out more about LDN:
The main website for low dose naltrexone: http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/
The LDN Research Trust website: http://www.ldnresearchtrust.org/
Dr. Mercola wrote on LDN a while back: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/09/19/one-of-the…
(Updated in January 2019)