The use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) in treating a variety of autoimmune, neuroinflammatory, and neurodegenerative disorders, as well as certain microbial diseases and cancers, was pioneered by the late Dr. Bernard Bihari [Bihari2003], [Bihari2013], [LDN]. Please see [LDN_Story] for an excellent documentary video, and [Elsegood2016] and [Moore2008] for books.
Dr. Weyrich notes that most of the reports below are considered anecdotal; however, given the low cost (less than $40/month) and extremely low side effect profile, a therapeutic trial may be in order.
Many patients with autoimmune diseases were successfully treated by the late Dr. Bihari; [LDN] reports that "all have experienced a halt in progression of their illness. In many patients there was a marked remission in signs and symptoms of the disease."
Neuroinflammatory and Neurodegenerative Disorders
Multiple Sclerosis is the most-studied autoimmune neuro-degenerative disorder, and clinical trials demonstrate remarkable efficacy. See [Gironi2008],[Cree2010]. [LDN], [LDN_MS] reports that all except 2 of the almost 400 patients with MS who were treated by the late Dr. Bihari [Bihari2003] using LDN "experienced a halt in progression of their illness, and "a majority ... note[d] reductions in spasticity and fatigue." This same experience has been reproduced by other practitioners treating well over 2000 MS patients, and holds for both relapsing-remitting and chronic progressive MS. [EverydayHealth_naltrexone] presents a number of patient reviews of LDN, many of which pertain to MS.
[Bihari2013], [Liu2016], [LDN_Cancer] have reported that Low Dose Naltrexone has anti-cancer activity, with a beneficial effect on expression of genes involved with cell cycle regulation and immune modulation, including the pro-apoptotic genes BAD and BIK1. [LDN_Cancer] reports that the late Dr. Bernard Bihari treated approximately 450 patients with some form of cancer, with a 60% success rate, almost all of who had failed to respond to standard treatments. [LDN_Cancer] further reports "of the 354 patients with whom Dr. Bihari had regular follow-up, 86 have shown objective signs of significant tumor shrinkage, ... [and] 125 patients have stabilized and/or are moving toward remission."
Mechanism of Action
According to the Low Dose Naltrexone home page [LDN], it is believed that LDN works against cancer by temporarily blocking the body's opioid receptors, which induces a reflex increase in the body's natural endorphin and enkephalin levels, which then target the tumors' opioid receptors and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the cancer cells. The endorphins and enkephalins also increase natural killer cells and other immune responses against the cancer cells [Mathews1983].
It is also believed [LDN] that the increased endorphin and enkephalin levels, modulates the immune system to restore balance and reduce inflammation.
However, [Younger2014] has proposed an alternative mechanism in which naltrexone exerts an antagonist effect on Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) that are found on macrophages and microglia; additional mechanisms involving astrocytes, NADPH oxidase 2, and the opioid growth factor receptor (OGFr) have also been proposed.
The result is reduced neuroinflammation, which is generally associated with all neurodegenerative diseases.
In the case of mood disorders, the mechanism of action may be as simple as stimulating the production of the "happy hormones" (endorphins).
Limitations of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)
The main caveat is that patients cannot also be being treated with opiates for pain control.
This is an off-label use, and as such is not likely to be covered by insurance.
Dr. Weyrich notes that most reports of LDN benefits are considered anecdotal, and without expensive double-blind placebo-controlled trials (which are unlikely to be funded, since LDN is a generic drug that cannot be patented), these results cannot be proven to be anything more than "spontaneous remissions".
Dr. Weyrich's Qualifications
Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) and offers these protocols as a complement to other therapies.