In my last blog I introduced you to the drug naltrexone and suggested that it may have alot of interesting benefits for diseased as well as healthy people when taken in low dosages. Today I will go into more depth into this therapy.
Naltrexone is a drug derived from the narcotic painkiller oxycodone. Unlike oxycodone however naltrexone blocks painkilling opiate receptors rather than activating them. Naltrexone is approved for the treatment of alcoholics and opiate addicts who wish to avoid relapse. Since the opiate system is central to the reward mechanism that drives such substance abuse, blockade of the system prevents the reinforcing “high” obtained by the drugs. When used as a relapse preventative, relative high dosages of naltrexone are used. These high dosages (50 to 300mg a day) result in a sustained “round the clock” opiate receptor blockade.
Low dose naltrexone (LDN) on the other hand is designed to only block opiate receptors for a short period of time, and this blockade is more preferential towards a subtupe known as the mu-opiate receptors. When ingested at night in dosages of 3 – 4.5 mg, naltrexone results in a short blockade lasting no more than 4-6 hours. Then something interesting happens. The expression of opiate receptors increases, as well as the amount of circulating met-enkephalin and beta-endorphin (your bodies natural opioids). This rebound effect restores the endorphin / opiate system to full sensitivity and balance throughout the rest of the day.
The positive health consequences of this “endorphin rebooting” are just beginning to be understood. LDN has been found to provide remarkable benefits for many patients suffering from illnesses, especially autoimmune disorders. One such disease is crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is a very nasty condition where the body attacks part of the digestive tract and causes massive inflammation. The result is abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss. A recent pilot study at Penn State showed that LDN therapy resulted in an 89% significant reduction in symptoms, with 67% percent going into remission. Positive results have been seen in patients with multiple sclerosis, although so far most of the data is anecdotal.
The connection between endorphins and the immune system is something new, still there definitely seems to be a link. Low levels of circulating endorphins have been found to be common in patients suffering from immune system disorders, and an inverse relationship between inflammatory conditions and endorphins is seen. Direct treatment with beta-endorphin has been shown to reduce progression of arthritis in rats by affecting the catabolic and destructive NF-kappa2 pathway and promoting a better balance between TH1 and TH2 cytokines. Researchers at Penn State also published initial evidence showing impressive effects with LDN on reducing the incidence of certain cancerous tumors as well as retarding the development of existing tumors.
That’s all well and good but you probably want to hear how LDN can benefit healthy fitness minded individuals. You probably would also like to know more specifics on the practical aspects of LDN. Well I am afraid you will have to wait a few more days though because I have to go now. I promise I will get to the good stuff soon enough however so hang on