The Ultimate Guide to Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

“There’s not a drug on earth that can make your life meaningful!” But low-dose naltrexone is one such drug that claims to do so. Find out below.

Addiction can pop up at any age, but it generally develops in adolescence. It’s triggered by changes in the brain that can occur as a result of substance misuse. It has an impact on how people think and act. 

There are healthier alternatives to self-medication for dealing with challenges and improving your mood. After reading about the benefits and adverse effects of low-dose naltrexone, which we discuss in today’s article, you can think of giving it a try.

What is Low-Dose Naltrexone?

High doses of naltrexone were utilized in traditional medicine for totally different uses before the concept of low-dose naltrexone was born. Naltrexone is a type of opioid antagonist. They have different pharmacodynamic effects at far lower dosages than usual [1].

Naltrexone is a drug that aids in the treatment of alcohol and opiate addiction by suppressing the “kick” that these substances provide. Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is also used by doctors to treat a range of illnesses.

Naltrexone is traditionally recommended at daily oral doses of at least 50 mg. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved this pure opioid receptor antagonist for the medicinal treatment of alcoholism and opioid use issues [1].

Naltrexone helps those who have stopped drinking by reducing the urge for alcohol that many alcoholics experience after they stop drinking. It’s unclear how the medicine works to lower alcohol cravings, but some researchers believe it does so by reducing the reinforcing effects of alcohol in some neuronal pathways in the brain [2].

While these are the only two FDA-approved applications for the medicine, low-dose naltrexone is also utilized off-label for a variety of other health concerns.

Let us now take a glance through Dextro- naltrexone, and Levo-naltrexone – the two molecules of LDN.

Dextro – naltrexone

Dextro-naltrexone, one of the compounds, binds to immune cells. The anti-inflammatory and microglia-controlling (the cells derived from mesoderm) characteristics of dextro-naltrexone, on the other hand, maybe significantly more interesting.

Dextro-naltrexone is not yet accessible for human usage, and we are not aware of any human-subject research of the molecule. There is also no way to get dextro-naltrexone for human consumption. To get dextro-naltrexone into clinical trials, a significant amount of funding and time would be required to navigate the appropriate FDA and other restrictions to assure patient safety [3].

Levo – naltrexone

Levo-naltrexone, on the other hand, binds to opioid receptors. This version of naltrexone has mostly opioid antagonistic properties.

How does Low dose Naltrexone work?

Naltrexone works in the brain to prevent the effects of opiates like heroin. As a member of the opiate antagonist class of medications, naltrexone interacts with these drugs for opiate receptors in the brain, preventing the substances’ pleasurable effects.

The body will compensate for a small and transient opioid (A pain reliever that is used to treat moderate to severe pain) blockade by upregulating both endogenous opioids and opioid receptors.

Uses of Low-dose naltrexone (LDN)

Below listed are the many uses of low-dose naltrexone to treat medical conditions.

Use of LDN in chronic pain

It can be tough for people who suffer from chronic pain to decide to begin using pain medication. People who take opioids for chronic pain are at a risk of becoming addicted to them.

Low-dose naltrexone, a medicine generally used to help patients who have experienced substance abuse, has been proven to be useful in treating broad chronic pain disorders, according to experts [3]. These are some of the conditions:

  • Fibromyalgia (pain in the bones and muscles)
  • Chronic pelvic pain

Use of LDN in Multiple sclerosis

The use of LDN for MS or multiple sclerosis has attracted little research. There is, however, anecdotal data from Multiple Sclerosis patients. Many people claim that using LDN helps them have fewer flare-ups.

Others said it appeared to delay the progression of the disease while having fewer negative effects than typical MS medicines. According to a study, the medicine was well tolerated, and there was a statistically significant reduction in spasticity [1].

Use of LDN to treat Inflammatory diseases

The nature of the chronic conditions that appear to respond to LDN treatment is one piece of evidence that suggests LDN may have anti-inflammatory properties in humans [3].

Crohn’s disease (CD) is the condition with the most scientific support for LDN’s efficacy. CD is an inflammatory bowel disease with effects on the gastrointestinal tract as well as the rest of the body. Self-reported pain, as well as objective measures of inflammation and disease severity, have been proven to be reduced when using LDN.

Use of LDN for other pains

Another group of researchers believes LDN may increase the pain-relieving benefits of cannabinoids and opioids. The painkilling effect of opioid medication, buprenorphine, was improved by ultra-low-dose naltrexone in ten people. Because LDN appears to boost natural opioids, they concluded that such an impact is not surprising. Their findings, however, have not been confirmed [4].

Use of LDN for gut disorders (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is supposed to have a variety of hidden causes, but stress, inflammation, and autoimmune disorder are frequently mentioned. After four weeks, ultra-low doses of naltrexone (0.5 mg/day) reduced discomfort and gave overall symptom alleviation in 76% of the cases in a study of 42 patients with IBS. LDN was shown to be safe, with no negative effects recorded [5].

Use of LDN for Stress and PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

The effects of LDN on stress and PTSD are being studied, although there is no clinical evidence to support its usage. Even doctors who have prescribed LDN for complicated mental health issues advise it should always be part of an integrated psychotherapy strategy.

LDN may boost resilience to stress and some emotional abnormalities, according to some researchers, by increasing natural opioid action. Its immune-balancing properties are also said to have the ability to improve mood [6].

The use of LDN in cancer patients is not supported by evidence and should be avoided.

Benefits of Low-dose Naltrexone

Low dose naltrexone can help with a range of medical issues. But before visiting your doctor, find out more about the benefits of low naltrexone and whether it’s a suitable fit for you. 

Low-dose naltrexone works by attaching to your brain’s endorphin receptors. This causes your body to produce more endorphins, which govern your immune system and slow the formation of undesirable cells that cause a variety of medical illnesses.

The capacity of low dosage naltrexone to treat and alleviate systems of such a wide array of medical illnesses is what makes it so remarkable.

Side effects of Low-dose Naltrexone

Naltrexone is usually safe and well-tolerated, however, it might cause certain adverse effects in initial treatment, just like other prescription drugs. Below listed are the common side effects of LDN. 

If you experience any of them, make sure to inform your doctor about it [7].

  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Constipation 
  • Rash 

There is also the danger of long-term liver damage. As a side effect, Naltrexone can cause thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia is characterized by excessive bleeding or increased bruising.

How should Low – Naltrexone be used?

The most prevalent form of LDN is a pill. There are also liquid buccal (under the tongue) and transdermal (through the skin) variants. When used at home, naltrexone is typically taken once a day, with or without meals. When used at a clinic or treatment center, naltrexone may be given once a day, every day, or every third day except Sunday [7].

Follow the label instructions carefully, and if there is something you don’t get, ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain it to you. Take naltrexone precisely as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take too little of it, or take it more often than your doctor has suggested.

Why a low dose?

Low doses of naltrexone may be required for effective chronic pain management. In theory, a total blocking of endogenous opioid systems in a chronic pain sufferer would not be a desirable consequence [3].

According to basic science discoveries, low-dose and high-dose opioid antagonists have highly different impacts on the physiologic system.

Precautions while using LDN

These are some precautions to take while using LDN[7].

  • You must tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to naltrexone or other opioids.
  • Naltrexone is a powerful anti-opioid medicine. Higher amounts of opioid medications or narcotics used during naltrexone treatment can result in significant harm or death.
  • If you use or are planning to use other drugs or nutritional supplements then make it a point to inform your doctor before using it.
  • Consult your physician if you have depression or kidney illness or if you’ve ever had either.
  • Please inform your doctor if you are expecting a child, intend to conceive, or are already nursing. Consult your doctor if you become expectant while taking naltrexone.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you are taking naltrexone if you require medical treatment or surgery, including dental surgery.
  • Be sure to wear or carry medical identification with you at all times in case you need to be treated in an emergency.
  • You should be aware that individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol frequently get depressed and, in some cases, attempt to harm or kill themselves. 
  • Receiving naltrexone does not reduce the likelihood that you may attempt to harm yourself. If you or a member of your family is experiencing symptoms of depression, you should see a doctor soon.

Alternatives to LDN 

Many other drugs, such as fluorocitrate and 3-hydroxymorphinan, are also being studied in animal models, and it is suspected that these compounds are already being created particularly for their significant characteristics [3].

Furthermore, there are claims that certain pharmaceutical drugs such as sulfonic acid medicines, opioid partial agonists, and disulfide compounds can be used, if the patient is adherent and cooperative. 

Although switching drugs is acceptable, it is necessary to keep in mind that switching drugs should always be done with the advice of a doctor. It is important for a safer and more effective recovery.

Note: Although both medicines are opioid blockers, naltrexone should not be mistaken for naloxone (Narcan) [8].


Q: What happens if you take alcohol while taking LDN?

A: You can drink alcohol while taking LDN, however, the feel-good factor from alcohol is much diminished due to LDN’s opiate receptor blocker action on the body.

Q: Does LDN cause weight gain?

A: Weight gain is not a prevalent side effect of naltrexone medication taken orally.

Q: Should I take Low Dose Naltrexone in the morning or at night? 

A: The majority of people take their naltrexone tablet first thing in the morning, however, the manufacturer does not suggest a certain time.

Wrapping up

Endorphins and enkephalins; the two polypeptides found in the brain, which the body produces naturally, are said to be boosted by Low-dose Naltrexone or LDN. LDN is only available with a prescription from a compounding pharmacy. You can give it a try based on suitability. But remember to consult a healthcare professional before self-diagnosing your illness.

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