Naltrexone – a promising medication for autoimmune disorders
Naltrexone is a medicine used in high doses to treat people with substance addiction problems. Naltrexone binds to opiate receptors.
When a person receives low doses of Naltrexone, it works only for a short time but manages to send signals to the body to increase the production of endorphins which assist in balancing of the immune system. Naltrexone is believed to have little side effects on the body in low doses taken at bedtime and it may help with metabolic processes. There are some positive reports from people with thyroid autoimmunity on internet forums. Many report a reduction in thyroid antibodies.
There has been some small pilot studies on use of Naltrexone for other autoimmune disorders (doses around 1.5 to 4.5mg/daily), such as Crohn’s disease, MS and fibromyalgia with positive outcomes. There are also reports of positive benefits in other autoimmune disorders and illnesses by pioneering physicians, such as Dr. Bihari. However there are no scientific studies on Naltrexone and Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis at the moment. Even though it has not been approved for treatment of Graves’ disease, some doctors prescribe it.
Naltrexone can increase the levels of endorphins in the brain. The levels of endorphins are lowered in Graves’ disease, also due to chemical imbalances in the brain and lowered levels of GABA, a calming chemical.
So, why endorphins are so important? Endorphins are ‘feel good’ chemicals produced by the body like natural opiates, similar to morphine. They are a reward system for our body cells, which enhance our life experience. Endorphins are produced in the brain when we experience happiness, love and relaxation. They are reduced on exposure to chronic stress and pain, with levels varied among individuals. The levels of these ‘happy molecules’ may be reduced in people with autoimmunity. We can see that when describing what endorphins do in the body. They strengthen and balance the immune system, reduce blood pressure, heart rate, dilate blood vessels, slow down breathing, reduce stress, lower pain, slow down neuron firing, improve digestion, excretions of harmful toxins and give feelings of pleasure, love and reward.
To enhance levels of endorphins in the brain, smelling scents and oils, such as lavender, chamomile, rosemary, mint, vanilla and grapefruit may help. Rhodiola rosea herb may also help to increase endorphins. Nutritional yeast (or brewer’s yeast) is high in inositol, which may help to enhance endorphins. Flaxseed oil and fish oil enhance the release of endorphins. Cacao and chocolate stimulate the secretion of endorphins. Craving for chocolate and fatty foods might indicate low level of endorphins in a person. Other pleasurable activities, such as listening to slow rhythmic music, looking at beautiful pictures, smiling, loving, exercise, massage and laughter may all increase endorphins levels. Living peaceful life with positive attitude and expression of one’s feelings would enhance endorphins. Being in a secure, loving and stable relationship is also beneficial. Even acupuncture, reasonable sun exposure and spending time in nature increase endorphins levels. Meditation is also beneficial as alpha rhythms (electrical patterns or waves in brain), which increase during meditation, tend to stimulate the release of endorphins. Lack of vitamins C and B and other minerals reduces endorphins.
- Medical Hypotheses 72 (2009) 333–337 URL: http://www.opioids.com/naltrexone/lowdosenaltrexone.pdf
- The Use of LDN for MS, Crohn’s, and Other Autoimmune Diseases by Elaine Moore. URL: http://www.elaine-moore.com/Articles/LowDoseNaltrexone/LDNUseforMSCrohnsandOtherAIDiseases/tabid/195/Default.aspx
- Thyroid. Factor Fiction. URL: http://www.tiredthyroid.com/blog/2012/02/20/ldn-low-dose-naltrexone-for-graves-and-other-autoimmune-diseases/
- The low dose Naltrexone Homepage. URL: http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/
- LDN and Autoimmune Disease. URL: http://www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/ldn_and_ai.htm
- LDN science. URL: https://www.ldnscience.org/ldn/how-does-ldn-work