How Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Addresses Autoimmunity

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Do you struggle with constant fatigue, have difficulty thinking clearly or regularly get sick? If so, you may be one of the 50 million Americans who suffer from autoimmune disease. Autoimmune malfunction of any variety has a significant impact on wellness. Autoimmune disease specifically, besides detracting from one’s well-being, is exceptionally difficult to treat. A great deal of research has been done on how to best resolve autoimmune disease. Recent studies have found that Naltrexone, a medication with a long history of use in addiction therapies, has impressive immune-regulating qualities that may prove highly beneficial in treating autoimmune disease.

A Brief Look at Immunity

The immune system is an integral component of health. When working correctly, the immune system fends off harmful pathogens including germs, bacteria, allergens, parasites, and viruses. When the immune system recognizes any of these harmful agents in the body, it releases antibodies to eliminate the specific pathogen. Once the offending agent is destroyed, the immune response subsides, and activity returns to normal. However, with autoimmune disease, the immune system can become one of the body’s worst enemies.

Autoimmune disease causes the immune system to incorrectly identify healthy cells and tissue as a threat. Much like normal immune response, if healthy bodily tissue is deemed dangerous, the immune system releases antibodies to destroy it. The assault of these antibodies can cause serious, and sometimes permanent, damage that may cause dysfunction and chronic illness. In fact, studies show that untreated and chronic cases of autoimmune disease often result in the development of further health issues.

Autoimmune disease is also notoriously difficult to treat. This is due in part to the fact that immune malfunction involves many factors. Effective treatment of autoimmune disease requires a holistic approach that attends to many elements.

Can Naltrexone Help Resolve Autoimmune Dysfunction?

Recently, it was found that low doses of Naltrexone, an opiate antagonist, may have a positive effect on multiple factors of immune function. Experts assert that Naltrexone’s influence on immune activity makes it a viable method for treating various forms of autoimmune disease.

Naltrexone is a compounded medication containing two isomers. Isomers are chemical structures of two or more compounds of the same formula, but with different molecular arrangements. The two isomer structures found in Naltrexone fulfill different roles. One isomer interacts with and regulates immune cells while the other binds to opioid receptors. The activity of these isomers makes Naltrexone an effective tool for treating autoimmune disease.

How Does Low Dose Naltrexone Combat Autoimmune Disease?

Opioid receptors influence the production of endorphins. Some may recognize endorphins as the substance that makes us feel happy when we eat or exercise. However, endorphins also act as a natural pain reliever and regulator of immune activity. In fact, studies show that suppressed endorphin values are a common trait of autoimmune disease and may even contribute to its development and continuation.

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) binds to opioid receptors, which shuts them off for a short period. This tricks the brain into thinking there is an endorphin deficiency. The body responds to this by increasing endorphin production. After a few hours, the inhibitory effect of LDN subside and opioid receptors are reopened. This allows the body to fully utilize the stockpile of endorphins, which provides multiple immune-related benefits. Some of which include increased antioxidant activity, improved anti-inflammatory activity and increased lymphocyte values. Greater endorphin values also provide pain relief, improves cellular growth, increases energy level, and boosts mood. Studies show that these benefits remain long after the receptor-suppressing effects of LDN wear off.

Treatment Experience

Treatment with LDN often leads to a notable improvement of symptoms. Specifically, patients report almost complete resolution of issues including fatigue, muscle pain or weakness, cognitive difficulties, moodiness and another autoimmune-related dysfunction. Studies show that LDN may notably improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, a condition that frequently accompanies autoimmune disease.

Safety, Usage and Side Effects of LDN

LDN is an easily administered cost efficient treatment that comes with minimal risk of adverse effects. However, as with any therapy, it is important to consider elements such as quality, dosage, and potential side effects before taking LDN.


LDN is a compounded medication that may be produced by one of many groups. Unfortunately, the quality of compounded substances can vary dramatically depending on the company that produces them. Therefore, patients should only take LDN that is produced by compounding pharmacies recognized for consistently producing quality medications.


LDN’s efficacy in treating autoimmune disease depends on the dosage. Taking too much Naltrexone can overwhelm opiate receptors, negating its immunomodulatory effect. Therefore, autoimmune patients must start very low, between 0.5mg to 1.5mg per day. Over four to eight weeks the dose should be slowly increased until reaching 4.5mg per day. Some patients may require a slightly higher dosage, but it should never exceed 10mg daily.

Side Effects

In rare cases, LDN may increase the severity of certain autoimmune symptoms. If taken at night, LDN may cause sleep disturbances because of increased endorphin levels. Patients may also rarely experience gastrointestinal issues including nausea, constipation and/or diarrhea. Individuals who experience these or other side effects after beginning LDN treatment should maintain their current dosage or reduce it until symptoms subside. Alternatively, a patient may try using LDN sublingual drops, which are delivered directly into the bloodstream, avoiding the gastrointestinal tract and any related issues.

Treating Autoimmune Disease with LDN

Autoimmune disease is a complex and challenging group of conditions. Continued research on autoimmune illness and exploration into possible treatments has provided a potentially powerful method of treating autoimmune malfunction. Low Dose Naltrexone uses a previously established medical technology, in the form of Naltrexone, to improve underlying factors of autoimmune disease. LDN provides impressive results with many patients experiencing notable symptom improvement and near-complete resolution of their autoimmune difficulties. If you are suffering from autoimmune disease speak to your doctor about treatment with Low Dose Naltrexone.

At Holtorf Medical Group, we train our physicians to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. If you’ve been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease but aren’t receiving the care and treatment you need, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!


1. Scott M.Hayter, Matthew C.Cook. “Updated assessment of the prevalence, spectrum and case definition of autoimmune disease.” Autoimmunity Reviews. Volume 11, Issue 10, August 2012, Pages 754-765.
2. LDN Research. “How Low Dose Naltrexone Works.” LDN Research Trust.