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Low Dose Naltrexone Used For Pain Management

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“LDN may well be the most important therapeutic breakthrough in over fifty years.
It provides a new method of medical treatment by mobilizing the natural defenses
of one’s own immune system.”

— David Gluck, MD

Naltrexone is a drug that was first FDA approved in 1984 in a 50mg dosage to help heroin-addicted patients overcome their heroin (or opioid) addiction by blocking the effects of these such drugs on a cellular level. By blocking the opioid receptors, naltrexone also blocks the natural forms of hormones our bodies produce, namely beta-endorphin and metenkephalin.

Soon after its approval in 1985, it was discovered that naltrexone in very low dosage (approximately 3mg once per day) had dramatic effects on the body’s immune system. Taking this low dose at bedtime, was able to enhance a person’s immune system even in response to infections such as HIV. In the 1990’s, patients with cancer (such as pancreatic cancer or lymphoma) saw benefit, in some cases dramatically, when given low dose naltrexone. Patients with autoimmune disease (such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis) often showed prompt control of their disease while taking low dose naltrexone as well.

Low dose naltrexone boosts the response of the immune system activating the body’s own natural defense. Over the last two decades, a significant body of research has suggested that one’s own endorphin secretions (opioids) plays a central role in the modulation of the immune system. In November 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine’s review article “Opioid-Induced Immune Modulation” reported, “…Preclinical evidence indicated overwhelmingly that opioids alter the development, differentiation, and function of immune cells, and that both innate and adaptive systems are affected. 1,2 Bone marrow progenitor cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, immature thymocytes and T cells, and B cells are all involved. The relatively recent identification of opioid-related receptors on immune cells makes it even more likely that opioids have direct effects on the immune system.”

By taking LDN at bedtime each night, a brief blockade of opioid receptors between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m produces a prolonged up-regulation of specific elements of the immune system by causing an increase in endorphin and enkephalin production.

In human cancer cases, research by LDN expert Dr. Zagon has demonstrated inhibition of a number of different human tumors using low dose naltrexone. It has been suggested that LDN increases endorphin and enkephalin levels which, in turn, directly bind to a tumor’s opiod receptors, which may induce apoptosis, cancer cell death. It is also believed that natural killer cells (NK) and other immune defenses against cancer are also increased. Even in HIV cases, Dr Bihari, another LDN specialist, says that his patients with HIV/AIDS who regularly took LDN were generally spared any deterioration of their important helper T cells (CD4+).


In general, people with diseases that are partially or largely triggered by a deficiency of endorphins (including cancer and autoimmune diseases), or diseases that are accelerated by a deficiency of endorphins (such as HIV/AIDS), find that restoration of the body’s normal production of endorphins is the major therapeutic benefit of LDN.

The mechanisms involved in the beneficial effect of LDN on cancer have three main elements:

1) As mentioned above, when LDN is taken before bedtime, it induces a sharp increase in pituitary and adrenal production of beta-endorphin and metenkephalin. Most studies have shown that naltrexone induces a 2-3x increase in production of metenkephalin, which is the endorphin that most specifically activates delta-opioid receptors, the primary endorphin-related anti-growth factor on cancer cells.

2) There is an anti-cancer response that results from direct activation of the opioid receptors on cancer cells by increasing endorphin levels. It is suggested that LDN induces an increase in the number of receptors on the tumor cell membranes making them more responsive to LDN. If this activation occurs while the cell is dividing, it dies. In fact, relatively small concentrations of metenkephalin (endorphin) have been shown to kill both human pancreatic cancer cells and human colon cancer cells growing in test tubes. Inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) appears to be one of the mechanisms by which endorphins and enkephalins combat cancer.

3) Immune System Modulation. As mentioned above, the immune system, which is regulated to a great extent by endorphins, is activated by LDN. In particular, endorphins raise the circulating levels of natural killer cells (NK) and lymphocyte-activated CD-8 cells, the two immunological cell types that prevent cancer by killing cancer cells as they arise.

Those cancer cells that have opioid receptors on their cell membranes, and that may therefore respond to LDN include all types of cancer cells that arise from the gastrointestinal tract including mouth, esophageal, liver, pancreas, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectal cancers. Lymph glands and the spleen have large numbers of opioid receptors, suggesting that Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma and lymphocytic leukemia should respond to LDN as well. Other malignancies with a sizable numbers of opioid receptors on their cell membranes include breast cancer, neuroblastoma, prostate cancer, malignant melanoma, renal cell carcinoma, glioblastoma, astrocytoma, endometrial cancer and small cell and large cell cancers of the lung.

CBS News Reports:
“Wonder drug” LDN Could Help Treat Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, & Autoimmune Diseases

JACKSONVILLE, FLA (CBS) — February, 2008 — This report features an interview with Lori Miles, an MS sufferer who can walk again thanks to LDN. Also quoted in the piece is Dr. Daniel Kantor, neurologist and director of the Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Program at the Shands Jacksonville Neuroscience Institute.


Cancers that are reported to respond to LDN:

Other Conditions that are reported to respond to LDN:

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autoimmune Disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lyme Disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Pemphigoid
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Ulcerative Colitis

For answers to your questions or to make an appointment please call us toll-free at 855-303-4101 to speak with a Patient Care Representative. Let us help you get your life back.

How can Sunridge Medical help?

At Sunridge Medical, our highly-trained physicians are experts in providing an integrated approach to the treatment of cancer and chronic disease. Our treatment plans are individualized and involve both traditional and alternative medicines. The physicians at Sunridge Medical have found that symptoms frequently can be improved and even reversed with our natural treatments. We take a holistic approach to patient care and strive not only treat the disease, but also alleviate symptoms, increase quality of life and, most importantly, address the underlying cause of disease.

** DISCLAIMER: ** We have provided this information for educational purposes so that those with chronic diseases can learn more about their condition. Medical information obtained from our website is not intended as a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you have a health issue, you should consult a healthcare provider. As of today’s medical standards, only conventional medicine is FDA approved for the treatment of cancer. Sunridge Medical does not make any implied or stated claims regarding treatment outcomes with alternative medicine treatments. As with all medical treatments, treatment responses can vary from patient to patient even if the diagnosis is similar.

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