An off-label path out of the opioid crisis

It recently occurred to me that I’ve never written about low-dose naltrexone (LDN) before — and I realize that I need to correct that. Because it’s a treatment I use in my practice all the time. And I was pleasantly surprised to come across an article the other day touting its benefits in the very same patients whom I prescribe it to.

Let me explain: According to some new findings, LDN is a promising solution for chronic pain relief. And this application works against a wide range of conditions, too — including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. (I also use it for my patients with cancer.)

But of course, it isn’t currently used this way in conventional medicine.

That’s because naltrexone is an opiate antagonist — that is, it blocks the effects of opiates, like pain relief and euphoria, on the brain. So its by-the-label use is as a treatment for alcohol and opioid dependence, typically in 50 mg doses.

But naltrexone also acts on immune-mediating microglial cells. And it exhibits anti-inflammatory effects via this secondary mechanism, as well. To achieve this effect, you only need to take about 4.5 mg per day.

But of course, the FDA has not approved the drug for this use, so you’d also need to have it specially compounded for the purpose.

And really, that should be your first clue that low-dose naltrexone actually works. In fact, research on inflammatory conditions ranging from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to multiple sclerosis (MS) show significant reductions in pain severity, disease severity, and clinical inflammation markers.

What’s more, LDN is safe — and cheaper — than any other drug currently approved to treat fibromyalgia or CFS.

A typical regimen — and the approach I usually use with my patients — would start at 1.5 mg per day, gradually increasing up to 4.5 mg per day over the course of a couple of weeks. That usually does the trick for most patients. But with others, you might have to go as high as 6 or even 7 mg per day. (Although I must say that this has only been the case for a handful of my patients.)

And don’t be alarmed if you don’t feel something right away. It can take up to two months for LDN to kick in. But on the upside, it causes very few problems. (Vivid dreams are the only commonly reported side effect.)

Your insurance isn’t going to cover LDN. (Though if you caught yesterday’s Reality Health Check, then you know that doesn’t necessarily mean much anyway.) But it’s only about $30 to $50 monthly. So most people can afford it, even paying out of pocket.

Especially compared to far more expensive alternatives — not to mention the alternative of simply suffering with pain your whole life — LDN is a bargain. And it might just clear a path out of the opioid crisis… helping us to escape yet another health epidemic we find ourselves in thanks to Big Pharma and their insurance company cronies.

But even putting aside opioids’ notorious dangers, LDN is simply the superior choice. That’s because opioids, while faster acting, actually increase sensitivity to pain in the long haul. LDN has the opposite effect — making it a much better fit for patients with chronic (as opposed to acute) pain.

There are a lot of drug-free options for pain relief out there — many of which I’ve shared, both here and in my monthly newsletter Logical Health Alternatives. But if you’ve struggled to manage your own chronic pain despite these solutions, consider giving low-dose naltrexone a try.

I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

PS. I’m currently working on a Pain-Free Protocol — an all-natural plan to relieve and eliminate any type of acute or chronic pain!