As I told you in my previous Healthy.net columns, I wrote my book, HONEST MEDICINE: Effective, Time-Tested, Inexpensive Treatments for Life Threatening Diseases, to educate the public about treatments that have a great deal of what I have come to call convincing patient-based evidence to back them up. I also wrote the book in hopes that one day soon all patients will be able to use effective, time-tested, inexpensive treatments like the ones I feature in my book without having to look so hard to find them.
One of the treatments I feature in my book is Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). In this column, I share what LDN is, how it helps patients and how it was developed.
I believe that LDN is, without a doubt, one of the most important medical discoveries of the twentieth century—if not the most important. It certainly is the cheapest and most versatile of the treatments that I profile in my book. And that it works for so many conditions is nothing short of remarkable.
LDN is an inexpensive nightly pill, whose main side effect is “vivid dreams.” Since naltrexone has been “off-patent” for many years, no company controls it, it is inexpensive to create, and any compounding pharmacist can compound it. However, there are several pharmacists that are known to compound it correctly; they are listed on Dr. David Gluck’s LDN website at
http://lowdosenaltrexone.org/comp_pharm.htm, and also at http://LDNaware.org/. And more pharmacies are being added all the time. (For an excellent article about why choosing the right compounding pharmacy is critical, read http://www.suite101.com/content/where-to-buy-low-dosenaltrexone---ldn-a206700.)
A narcotic blocker, naltrexone was approved by the FDA in the mid-1980s for treating drug and alcohol addiction. Soon afterward, Harvard-educated neurologist Bernard Bihari, MD discovered that, in small doses (one-tenth to one-twentieth the dose prescribed for addicts), Low Dose Naltrexone has immune-system-modulating and endorphin-raising capabilities. He reasoned that because of this, it could help patients with immunologically related disorders. He was right. When patients took LDN at bedtime, Dr. Bihari found that, in many cases, it raised their endorphin levels, resulting in halting further progression of their diseases.
Dr. Bihari first began prescribing LDN to his patients with HIV/AIDS. For a great many of them, it stopped their disease from progressing. He reasoned that, since HIV/AIDS was a disease that resulted from a compromised immune system, it would probably work on autoimmune diseases, as well. So he began prescribing LDN for people with multiple sclerosis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Many of these patients, too, experienced no further disease progression. Dr. Bihari also had considerable success using LDN with patients with some cancers that had failed to respond to standard treatments.
In some cases, the results have been truly amazing. For instance, some MS patients, like Vicki Finlayson, have gone from being nearly bedbound, to returning to a totally normal life. In 2008, three years after starting LDN, Vicki was able to walk fifty-three miles to the California State Capitol from her home in Auburn, California to publicize her recovery. (http://www.suite101.com/content/focus-on-low-dose-naltrexone-a54293) At around the same time, she was also able to get off disability and return to work. For other patients, like Linda Elsegood and Malcolm West, two of the MS patients who have contributed their stories to my book, although their changes haven’t been as dramatic, they have nonetheless been significant.