Low Dose Naltrexone: A “New” Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases
Those of you who have read my Amazon.com bestselling book, HONEST MEDICINE, know that it features four low-cost treatments for very serious illnesses — treatments that are, according to the book’s subtitle, effective, time-tested and inexpensive. One of these, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), will be of particular interest to followers of AutoimmuneMom.com, because it is a non-toxic, off-label medication that has been used for many years to treat over 100 autoimmune diseases, including conditions many of you may have.
For years, people with multiple sclerosis were the most ardent and vocal supporters of LDN. Because of this, all the LDN success stories I featured in HONEST MEDICINE were contributed by patients or relatives of MS patients. (One chapter was contributed by a doctor, David Gluck, MD.)
I am now writing a second book, which will be entirely about LDN, with true accounts from patients who have successfully used LDN for a variety of autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, myasthenia gravis, Crohn’s disease and fibromyalgia. That’s quite an array of autoimmune conditions! But LDN may work on many more conditions, as well. Please see this list of conditions that LDN may help from LDNResearchTrust.org.
What is LDN?
Low Dose Naltrexone is a very low dose of a drug that was approved in high doses by the FDA in the mid-1980s for heroin addiction, and approximately ten years later, for alcoholism. At that time, Bernard Bihari, MD, a brilliant, Harvard-educated neurologist/psychiatrist who was working with drug addicts in New York City, discovered that, while the high doses of naltrexone that had been approved by the FDA had negative side effects for patients, in very low doses, which he called LOW Dose Naltrexone, this off-label drug was nontoxic, and raised endorphin levels, causing patients’ immune systems to function correctly. (He said LDN “modulates” or “orchestrates” the immune system.)
Since many of his drug addicted patients also had HIV/AIDS, Dr. Bihari prescribed naltrexone in very low doses (at that time, 3mg) for them. For many of these patients, LDN stopped the progression of their disease in its tracks. He reasoned that LDN might also work for people with other diseases which also have, at their core, an immune system dysfunction. This included most autoimmune diseases and many cancers.
A friend of his daughter’s was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. At that time, there were no MS drugs on the market. She asked Dr. Bihari if his new drug might help her. Believing there was no harm in trying, he prescribed LDN for her. As with his HIV/AIDS patients, her MS stopped progressing.
This was a pre-Internet era, yet the word about LDN spread. People with all sorts of autoimmune diseases (and some cancers) traveled to New York to see Dr. Bihari. His successes with many of these conditions mirrored his successes with HIV/AIDS and MS. Patients were ecstatic.
Years later, small studies bore out Dr. Bihari’s clinical results, with researchers at Penn State conducting studies on LDN for Crohn’s disease, and researchers at the University of California (San Francisco) conducting an equally successful study on LDN for MS. In addition, Dr. Jared Younger at Stanford conducted a study on LDN for fibromyalgia. Again, the results were encouraging. (I will gladly send readers links to these studies, if you write to me at Julia@HonestMedicine.com.)
Why am I working so hard to spread the word about LDN to autoimmune patients?
Because LDN raises endorphin levels and forces the body’s immune system to act correctly, I often say that LDN is one medication that behaves more like a nutritional supplement than a drug. In HONEST MEDICINE, Dr. David Gluck, a colleague of Dr. Bihari’s, states that LDN “tricks the body” by forcing the immune system to function correctly.
I believe many of you may be interested in trying LDN. But you probably haven’t heard of it because your doctors haven’t told you about it.
I am very passionate about spreading the word about LDN. Since my book was first published, I have heard from many people who have autoimmune diseases that have not responded to the drugs their doctors have prescribed for them. In many cases, the drugs have been so toxic that these patients’ lives have been severely compromised. Once they find a doctor who will prescribe LDN for them, their conditions often improve and, in some cases, totally reverse.
Patients are often discouraged about the medications their doctors prescribe for their autoimmune conditions. All you need to do is listen to the warnings at the end of TV ads for drugs like Humira, used to treat the symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease and plaque psoriasis. The same is true for Embrel, used to treat several forms of arthritis, and Lyrica, used for fibromyalgia and diabetic nerve pain. Orencia, another drug used for RA, also warns of severe side effects. We could make our way through a long list of drugs, risks and common side effects.
To give you just one frightening example, let’s look at one real ad—and listen to the side effects its manufacturer admits to.
One of my “favorite” ads is for Humira. See/listen to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIjmV2ggDDQ for “moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis.” It boasts that, with Humira, patients get 75% skin clearance, implying that it’s a benign drug your dermatologist should be happy to prescribe for you. Unfortunately, at the end of the ad, we learn that it “can lower your body’s ability to fight infections. Serious, sometimes fatal events such as infections, lymphoma or other types of cancer have happened. Blood liver and nervous system problems—serious allergic reactions and new or worsening heart failure have occurred. Before starting Humira, your doctor should test you for TB. Ask your doctor if you live in, or have been to a region where certain fungal infections are common. Tell your doctor if you’ve had TB, hepatitis B, are prone to infections or have symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough or sores. You should not start Humira if you have any kind of infection.”
WHOA! And the side effects of many of the other drugs for autoimmune diseases are similarly frightening.
So I hope you can understand why I am so passionate about spreading the word about LDN, which has as its main side effect “vivid dreams.”
Suppose my doctor won’t prescribe LDN for me?
I am happy to report that more and more doctors are prescribing LDN for their patients. In fact, patient advocates have lists of doctors from all over the US and abroad who are on the “LDN Bandwagon.” There have been several conferences, in both the US and Europe, devoted to educating patients and doctors about LDN. Doctors and patients alike come from all over the world to attend. Many of the doctors speak about their LDN patient successes, and others come to learn about LDN from other doctors—and from patients.
That’s the good news.
But most patients still face problems when trying to get LDN, since it requires a prescription, to be filled by a compounding pharmacist, and many doctors won’t prescribe it. So, far too many patients simply don’t get to try LDN. But more and more patients want to convince their doctors to “let” them try LDN.
I have decided to be part of the “LDN Solution” by helping patients to convince their doctors.
I learned a great deal about how doctors think from my late father, who was a general practitioner in Connecticut back in the so-called “good old days” of medicine. (I put “good old days” in quotes because my dad felt there was a lot wrong with the medical system even back then.) He described patients who came to him armed with articles from popular publications like the Readers Digest. He was not impressed and actually looked down on that kind of “authority.”
As I listened to patients’ stories of how they were trying to convince their doctors to prescribe LDN—and how they were often turned down—I realized that these patients were sharing information that was equally unimpressive to their doctors: printouts from the Internet. I knew, from my experiences with doctors over the years (personal and professional), that doctors do NOT like getting random printouts from online sources—some of which are good, some of which are not.
So I analyzed what it takes to convince doctors to change their minds about a treatment they weren’t taught about in medical school and that they haven’t read about in their journals—a treatment their colleagues don’t yet know about. In order to educate patients about LDN, so that they can educate their doctors about it, and in so doing, convince their doctors to prescribe it for them, I am now conducting LDN Teleseminars and LDN Coaching sessions. To learn more about both programs, please go to HonestMedicine.com, and click on the appropriate links at the top of the page. For those patients who either attend my telesminars, or participate in my individualized coaching sessions, I have put together an impressive packet of information about LDN for them to take to their doctors. I also provide them with strategies with which to share the materials. Of course, the strategies are more individualized for those patients whom I coach one on one. The results so far have been encouraging. More people are convincing their doctors to prescribe LDN for them. And many people with autoimmune diseases are benefiting.
The news about LDN is growing
There are many websites dedicated to spreading the word. Foremost of these is LDNInfo.org, a website created and maintained by Dr. David Gluck (Dr. Bihari’s colleague) and his son Joel. Another prominent site is Linda Elsegood’s LDN Research Trust. Linda contributed a chapter to HONEST MEDICINE, in which she describes how LDN virtually gave her her life back after living for several years with the debilitating effects of multiple sclerosis. And there are other LDN sites, as well.
Also, check out the Facebook and Yahoo LDN groups. There are LDN groups for patients with several autoimmune diseases, including:
- Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease, including Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis
- Autoimmune Thyroid Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are other Facebook groups for LDN that are more general, too. The most popular of these is “GOT ENDORPHINS? LDN” which, so far, has over 6,000 members. And there are Yahoo groups, as well, for LDN in general, and for LDN and specific conditions. All this points to people with autoimmune diseases learning more about LDN and being helped by it. I am happy to be able to play a part in this effort.
For more information on LDN, in addition to my book, HONEST MEDICINE, please read Elaine Moore and Samantha Wilkinson’s book, The Promise of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy. For a true account of one wife’s journey to find a treatment for her husband’s multiple sclerosis, read Mary Boyle Bradley’s Up the Creek with a Paddle. And for an account of one man’s journey to finding LDN, read Joseph Wouk’s Google LDN. All four books give lots of information about this cutting-edge treatment so many people are calling a cause celebre.
About the Author
Julia Schopick is a public relations consultant, patient advocate and health writer. When her husband Tim was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor in 1990, Julia found several innovative treatments that helped keep Tim alive for 12 years beyond the doctors’ expectations. Shockingly, doctors expressed little interest in these treatments, and some were openly hostile. This led Julia on a path of teaching patients to find innovative treatments, such as Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), Intravenous Alpha Lipoic Acid, the Ketogenic Diet and Silverlon, which she describes in her book, HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life-Threatening Diseases. She provides informative on her website and has appeared on hundreds of radio programs to talk about the treatments in her book. She also conducts coaching sessions and teleseminars to educate the public about LDN. Find out more at: www.HonestMedicine.com,
Note: If you want to try LDN, but your doctor won’t prescribe it for you, Julia Schopick is conducting a 2-part teleseminar on October 22 & October 29 to teach participants about LDN and how to convince doctors to prescribe it. Attendees will get a packet of specially prepared materials about LDN. Please see HonestMedicine.com’s Teleseminar page for details.
Words from a patient:
Julia’s first LDN Teleseminar was a ground breaking event for so many! In these teleseminars, she addresses the biggest challenge myself and others have faced….getting a prescription for LDN from our doctor. This was my biggest challenge. Julia gave us the necessary tools to help us convince our doctors to prescribe LDN. In addition, she gave us the language to use, as well as the tools and the medical resources, documents and clinical studies that have been done on LDN so you can confidently convince your doctor to give you a prescription. Please don’t miss her upcoming teleseminar. The information she provides for you could change your life, as it has mine! I will be there; I hope that you will too!
— Lexie Lindstrom
This blog post was originally published by AutoimmuneMom.com, written by Julia Schopick, and first published on Oct 3, 2014.
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