Compounding & Autoimmune Diseases:
Uses of Low-Dose Naltrexone in Autoimmune Conditions
Approximately 50 million Americans suffer from autoimmune diseases. It is estimated that 30 million (75%) of those affected are women. (aarda.org)
Living with an Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune Diseases can cause a multitude of symptoms that negatively affect the daily lives of millions of Americans. Pain, Inflammation, achiness, stiffness, digestive issues, skin problems, etc are examples of what they are living with..
This newsletter will cover some basics and then focus on the use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) in autoimmune conditions.
What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body and damages its own tissues. (Web MD)
Some examples of autoimmune diseases include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis Immune system cells attack the joints, causing symptoms of inflammation, swelling, and pain.
- Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) Autoimmune antibodies attach to tissues throughout the body and symptoms may present in various areas such as the joints, lungs, blood cells, nerves, and/or kidneys.
- Ulcerative colitis & Crohn’s disease The immune system attacks the lining of the intestines. Symptoms may be episodes of diarrhea, rectal bleeding, urgent bowel movements, abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss.
- Multiple sclerosis (MS) The immune system attacks nerve cells. Symptoms may include pain, blindness, weakness, poor coordination, and muscle spasms.
- Psoriasis In psoriasis, overactive immune system blood cells called T-cells collect in the skin. The immune system activity stimulates skin cells. Symptoms may be silvery, scaly plaques on the skin.
- Graves’ disease The immune system produces antibodies that stimulate the thyroid gland to release excess amounts of thyroid hormone into the blood (hyperthyroidism). Symptoms of Graves’ disease can include bulging eyes as well as weight loss, nervousness, irritability, rapid heart rate, weakness, and brittle hair.
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Antibodies produced by the immune system attack the thyroid gland leading to hypothyroidism. Symptoms may include fatigue, constipation, weight gain, depression, dry skin, and sensitivity to cold.
- Myasthenia gravis. Antibodies bind to nerves and make them unable to stimulate muscles properly. A main symptom may be weakness that worsens with activity.
source: (Web MD)
Autoimmune disease symptoms
Symptoms of autoimmune disease may be severe in some people and mild in others. Very rarely is it immediately clear if one has an autoimmune disease. (hopkinsmedicine.org)
Common Autoimmune Disease Symptoms
Despite the varying types of autoimmune disease, many of them share similar symptoms. Common symptoms of autoimmune disease include:
- Joint pain and swelling
- Skin problems
- Abdominal pain or digestive issues
- Recurring fever
- Swollen glands
With some autoimmune diseases,symptoms come and go. Periods of symptoms are called flare-ups. Periods when the symptoms go away are called remissions. (healthline)
Diagnosis is often difficult since the symptoms are often similar to various other conditions. There is not a simple, single test to diagnose autoimmune disorders. Usually one has a certain number of symptoms along with blood markers to help move the diagnosis in the right direction. (source)
If you are in need of a thorough checkup, an Integrative or Functional Medicine Prescriber may be a good place to start. They can always refer you to a specialist if needed.
Integrative or Functional Medicine Physicians:
What are they and how can they help you?
How are Symptoms Managed?
Treatments are also available to relieve symptoms like pain, swelling, fatigue, and skin rashes.
These may include medicines to calm the overactive immune response and bring down inflammation in the body.
Exploring the Uses of Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
Let us at Town & Country Compounding be your experts. When dealing with pain, it is important to work with experienced pharmacists and practitioners.
The key to success in using LDN is an understanding that optimal dosing is ultimately patient specific and is not dependent on a set protocol. Dosing strategies can vary tremendously. Some patients find success very quickly, while others need to try a variety of dosing strategies, which may take up to several months to achieve success.
Therefore, it is critical to work with a provider or a compounding pharmacy knowledgeable in strategies that can help ensure success with LDN. Since we began specializing in LDN at Town & Country, we have seen a wide variety of successes. It is these successes that motivate us to continue to try to help other patients.
LDN for Inflammation and Pain
Younger et al: The Use of Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as a Novel Anti-Inflammatory Treatment for Chronic Pain. Clinical Rheumatology (2014) 33:451-459 | Stanford Medical School
Objective: Review evidence that LDN may act as a novel anti-inflammatory agent in the Central Nervous System thru its action on microglial cells.
Content: Additional information about the background, theory, mechanism of action, evidence of effectiveness, published research on pain disorders, advantages of LDN and disadvantages of LDN.
Evidence of Effectiveness
Two proposed mechanisms of action:
- Brief blockade of opiate receptors resulting in increased endorphin production and pain relief
2. Brief blockade of non-opiate receptors (TLR receptors) preventing activation of Microglial cells and production of inflammatory factors.In an initial pilot study on fibromyalgia, baseline erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was a significant predictor of clinical response from LDN. (ESR is a common test that is sensitive to both chronic and acute inflammatory processes). A variety of chronic inflammatory conditions have been shown to respond positively to LDN treatment.
Conclusion: The totality of the basic and clinical research to date suggests that LDN is a promising treatment approach for chronic pain conditions thought to involve inflammatory processes.
LDN for Fibromyalgia
Younger et al: Fibromyalgia Symptoms are Reduced by Low-Dose Naltrexone: A Pilot Study. Pain Medicine 2009(10):663-72 | Stanford Medical School
Objective: Pilot clinical trial, to test the effectiveness of LDN in treating the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Population: Ten women meeting criteria for moderate to severe fibromyalgia and not taking an opioid medication.
Intervention: This study was conducted as a placebo-controlled, single-blind, crossover to evaluate the efficacy of 8 weeks of treatment with 4.5mg of naltrexone (LDN) on daily, self-reported fibromyalgia symptom severity. Each patient acted as their own control and received a placebo for two weeks before treatment.
During placebo, symptoms were reduced by 2.3% in the entire cohort from baseline. In the drug condition, symptoms were reduced by 32.5%.
Six out of ten patients treated with LDN were considered responders (30% or greater reduction of symptoms over placebo).
Conclusion: LDN shows promise as being a well-tolerated and effective treatment for fibromyalgia in women.
Want more info?
Attend one of our monthly info sessions and support groups!
Town & Country Compounding can also offer hormone saliva testing kits and help analyze results through a scheduled private consultation with the patient. The pharmacy can then get in contact with your physician and help find a treatment plan that fits your needs. Link to saliva kits that can be obtained from our pharmacy.
We can ship out to you just email or call the pharmacy.