I was so fortunate to attend the LDN Research Trust conference held in Las Vegas, NV, November 7-8, 2014. http://www.ldnresearchtrust.org Naltrexone is for alcoholics, right? So why would I, chronic Lyme and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patient, who can’t even tolerate alcohol, benefit from naltrexone?
Well, it’s complicated. Here is a simplified explanation of what naltrexone does. You swallow a low dose of naltrexone around 10 p.m. Naltrexone gets to the opioid receptors in your brain and plugs into them for about 4 hours. The opioid receptors feel deprived. It’s like telling a kid he can eat raw veggies instead of candy. So these cells signal other cells to produce more endorphins and more opioid growth factor (OGF). Here is a brief summary of how this works from the LDN Research Trust website.
Naltrexone is prescribed as an opiate blocker for heroin addicts in doses of 150mg a day.
Its benefits are due to the temporary inhibition of brain endorphins (a natural pain-killer, produced in the brain). This results in an increase in the production of endorphins, resulting in the reduction of painful symptoms and an increased sense of well-being. Usually, 3 mg of LDN is taken for the first month and 4.5 mg thereafter. It has been reported that after an initial dose of just 3 mg per day, people have experienced a range of benefits including a reduction in spasms and fatigue, improved bladder control and heat tolerance, as well as improvements in mobility, sleep, pain and tremor.
Oh boy, there is nothing better than an endorphin rush – better calming, joy, satisfied food cravings, pain relief, better sex – what’s not to like? Any CFS patient would love increased endorphins, not to mention that endorphins reduce inflammation.
Most of us have heard of endorphins, but, OMG, what the heck is OGF? Opioid growth factor (OGF) is a silent killer of cancer cells. You can take OGF by injection, but who wouldn’t rather swallow a pill of LDN which naturally raises OGF levels? BTW, you can get LDN compounded into a cream and rub it on your skin, if you don’t like to swallow pills. Here is a great link to help you find compounding pharmacies. http://ldnresearchtrust.org/LDN_Pharmacists
Both increased endorphins and OGF help to modulate the immune system. Endorphins increase the activity of natural killer cells. OGF represses T cells, B cells and some cancer cells. How does this apply to patients? There are studies showing LDN helps autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s, and lupus. Most folks don’t realize autoimmune diseases are the biggest killer diseases, following heart disease and cancer. The first study ever done using LDN was to treat AIDS patients. http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/ldn_hiv_1996.htm I was excited to learn that the studies show LDN helps AIDS and cancer patients. Here are links to read more about this.
It is about 3 p.m. I have been sitting taking notes for about five hours with a headache, brain fog, and exhaustion. What hope is there for me – a chronic Lyme and chronic fatigue syndrome patient for nineteen years and counting? The cruel joke comparing CFS to AIDS goes like this, “The good news is you don’t die from CFS. The bad news is you don’t die from it. If CFS or chronic Lyme killed us, there would be much more research funded.
We CFS patients are similar to AIDS patients in that we have multiple reactivated viral infections. We are also like autoimmune patients having all kinds of inflammation and elevated cytolines. Will LDN modulate our immune system, calm it down, and help it fight infection at the same time?
Dr. Kent Holtorf, MD pointed out the evidence for ongoing infection – both viral and bacterial in CFS and chronic Lyme. IgG levels of several past infections indicate that these infections have been reactivated. He pointed out that 300,000 are diagnosed with Lyme disease each year – more cases than breast cancer and AIDS combined. We can go after the infections causing Lyme disease, but many patients will keep relapsing. Their cellular immune function is just not working. LDN works to fix that. So far Holtorf is seeing a 30% decrease in patients’ symptoms on LDN – not a cure, but worth trying.
Dr. Armin Schwarzbach, MD spoke at length regarding Lyme disease cases that did not resolve with antibiotic treatment. He said that LDN should be used to improve musculoskeletal problems, and improve the immune system by calming the cytokine storm.
Is LDN the magic fix? It is worth trying. It is safe. It is inexpensive. It has worked for AIDS, MS, lupus, chronic headache, weight loss, cancers, sleep apnea, sexual dysfunction, infertility and Crohn’s disease. You can read my article and set it aside, but I would challenge you to find a doctor who prescribes LDN and try it – you might like it. Here is a link where you can find doctors prescribing LDN. http://ldnresearchtrust.org/LDN_Prescribing_Doctors
I have written about the use of LDN for chronic Lyme and CFS, but I cannot wrap up this conference report without mentioning a side issue presented by Dr. Tom O’Bryan, MD – the issue of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. I started to tune out, as I never have gut problems and have no positive tests for gluten sensitivity. But I sat up and listened when Dr. O’Bryan said you could get a bad reaction to gluten that never shows up in the gut. These reactions could be headaches, aching pain, fatigue, brain fog, and anxiety. This can happen when gluten leaks through the gut wall, because humans have no way to clear gluten. I am now off all wheat for two weeks – it can’t hurt and might help.