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Michael Rothman MD Articles

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Low Dose Naltrexone

Naltrexone is a drug which blocks the effects of narcotics. This drug is a very useful in the Emergency Department for treating patients that have overdosed on narcotic drugs like heroin, morphine and other opioid pain killers. In fact, this drug works within a few short minutes to completely block the opioid receptors in the patient’s brain, and can be life saving in an acute emergency. The dose used in drug OD is about 50 mg of Naltrexone. This is the only FDA approved use for this drug.

However, once a drug has been approved by the FDA for any indication, doctors can legally use this drug for any reason that they deem useful. This is called “off-label” usage of medications. Off-label usage of drugs is very common and well accepted in medicine. A couple of common, well known examples of “off-label” usage would be prescribing anti-depressant drugs for cessation of smoking or using drugs indicated to slow heart rate for high blood pressure.

Naltrexone has been used “off-label” for the past 20 or so years in a low dosage form called “low dose naltrexone” or LDN. When naltrexone is used in low dosages like this, it only briefly inhibits the blockage of the patient’s opioid receptors. This then causes the patient’s own hormone, immune and nervous system to produce large amounts of opioid type chemicals known as endorphins.

Endorphins are your body’s own built in pain relievers and when these levels are elevated after the use of LDN, have some very promising therapeutic effects. These effects include reduction in pain. However, perhaps even more importantly, endogenous (made by your own body) endorphins serve many functions including to help regulate your immune system.

Scientific studies are revealing that endorphins can balance out immune system imbalances that contribute to many diseases, including “autoimmune’ diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, as well as inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and even certain types of cancers.

Currently, there are many scientific studies underway that are looking at using LDN (and its effects on endogenous opioid production) in the treatment of many diseases. LDN is a very safe drug with essentially no known side effects, and is relatively inexpensive (about $30-$50 dollars each month).

If you suffer from an auto-immune disease, an inflammatory disease, chronic pain or cancer you may benefit from using LDN. Unfortunately since LDN is an “off-label” use of this drug and it is very cheap, there are not many doctors that know about the benefits it can bring to chronically ill patients.

At Michael Rothman MD, we have been using LDN for several years and have seen some very good responses to LDN in chronically ill patients.

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