Suffering from Chronic Immune Dysfunction and Inflammation? Low-Dose Naltrexone May Be Right for You

Suffering from Chronic Immune Dysfunction and Inflammation? Low-Dose Naltrexone May Be Right for You

Persistent inflammation is the hallmark of many chronic diseases. Your immune system triggers inflammation as part of a process to protect itself from infection or disease. It’s meant to be a temporary response that serves an important purpose, but when inflammation continues long-term, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Naltrexone, originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the 1980s for opioid addiction, provides a novel approach when used at low doses to treat immune dysfunction, inflammation, and chronic pain in various difficult-to-treat conditions.

What is low-dose naltrexone (LDN)?

Naltrexone, traditionally used to help patients recover from opioid and alcohol dependence, also can boost the immune system and help manage symptoms of various immune-related conditions. The dose used for this purpose is less than 10mg per day, much lower than the dose used for drug and alcohol dependence.

Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors and boosts endorphin levels. The effects of naltrexone can reduce inflammation and regulate the immune system to reduce symptoms like pain and fatigue.

The problem with inflammation

Inflammation on its own isn’t harmful. As a temporary response to injury, disease, or infection, inflammation is a complex biological process necessary to initiate healing. However, when you have chronic infections or become infected with certain bacteria or viruses, the immune system can become dysfunctional and set off a cycle of constant inflammation.

Immune dysfunction is also indicated in conditions unrelated to infection. In both cases, the chronic inflammation contributes to symptoms like fatigue and debilitating pain.

What can low-dose naltrexone do?

LDN is increasingly used to treat various chronic diseases, especially those with immune system involvement. The most heavily researched used of LDN is in the treatment of fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. In both conditions, naltrexone can improve symptoms such as fatigue and depression — patients report an improved quality of life.

LDN reduces inflammation

Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage. When there’s an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body, oxidative stress occurs. Low-dose naltrexone has antioxidant properties that reduce the effects of free radicals throughout the body, thereby lowering oxidative stress and reducing inflammation.

Oxidative stress is seen in many chronic diseases and also contributes to aging. People who have infections and chronic diseases often have elevated levels of oxidative stress, which is damaging to the body and contributes to a number of symptoms. Lowering inflammation is beneficial for chronic pain and many chronic diseases.

LDN regulates immune function

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakes the body’s own cells and tissues for foreign substances and launches an attack. In patients with autoimmune thyroiditis, for example, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.

While the effects of the body’s own endorphins on immunity remains unclear, low-dose naltrexone appears to correct immune dysfunction and calm autoimmune attacks. Patients taking LDN for autoimmune conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune thyroiditis report improvement in their condition.

LDN treats Lyme disease

Lyme disease is often challenging to treat and can cause chronic pain, joint swelling and stiffness, and inflammation. Treatment with LDN may help reduce pain and inflammation and improve energy levels in patients with Lyme disease.

When Lyme disease becomes chronic, the immune system can become overactive and wreak havoc on the body, leading to ongoing inflammation. The body produces an abundance of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines in response to infection and disease. It’s the production and activation of inflammatory cytokines that cause symptoms like pain and fatigue.

Low-dose naltrexone shows promise in addressing many conditions, and results vary from patient to patient. Wayne Bonlie, MD, and his team can help determine if you’re a good candidate for LDN treatment. To learn more, call the office in Timonium, Maryland, to schedule a consultation.

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