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     2355 Canyon Blvd.   |   Suite 102   |   Boulder, CO 80302

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN): A Game-Changer for Autoimmune Disease & Chronic Illness

The functional medicine providers at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine make it a point to stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in alternative treatments. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is one that is increasingly popular among holistic medicine practitioners because studies have shown it has significant benefits for those suffering from autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses. 

The most common conditions treated with LDN are fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and painful diabetic neuropathy. However, further research has shown that LDN can reduce symptoms in many different inflammatory conditions.

If you’re interested in exploring LDN as a complementary treatment for your autoimmune disease or chronic illness, keep reading. In this article, Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine in Boulder, Colorado, explores how LDN works, its benefits, and why it could be a game-changer for those seeking natural, effective treatment options.

What is Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)?

Naltrexone is a medication that was initially developed to help manage opioid addiction. However, when administered in low doses (typically between 1.5 and 4.5 mg), it has been found to offer promising results for individuals with autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses. Most notably, the use of LDN in low doses helps modulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, providing relief from chronic conditions.

How Does LDN Work?

Naltraxone binds to and blocks opioid receptors, which is what makes it an effective treatment for adults suffering from opioid addiction. But Naltraxone used in very low doses – LDN – is what benefits those with autoimmune disease and chronic illness. The reason for this lies in how LDN affects your hormones, pain receptors, immune system, and mood.

When LDN blocks the opioid receptors, it signals to your brain that you aren’t producing enough endorphins. In response, your brain increases endorphin production, which makes you feel good and reduces inflammation. Endorphins are your body’s natural painkillers and, therefore, may reduce pain from chronic illness and autoimmune disease.

At the same time, LDN causes your body to increase the production of a protein called enkephalins, or Opioid Growth Factor (OGF). This protein reduces inflammation and autoimmune responses. It also reduces immune cell signaling and increases dopamine.

We go a little more in depth about the anti-inflammatory and immune regulating properties of LDN below. Suffice to say that LDN words by lowering systemic inflammation, increasing feel good hormones, and reducing pain.

LDN typically takes between 4 and 6 weeks to start working because many of the conditions it treats are autoimmune and inflammatory. It requires consistent and prolonged use to achieve the desired results. Most patients notice the maximum benefits around 12 weeks.

LDN Benefits for Autoimmune Disease and Chronic Illness

LDN’s effect on the opioid receptors has many benefits throughout the body. Not only does it provide pain relief, but it helps to regulate the immune system, reduce systemic inflammation, and improve your quality of life.

Low Dose Naltrexone can help reduce pain from chronic illness
Low Dose Naltrexone has been used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses, including Here is a breakdown of a few LDN benefits for patients with autoimmune diseases and chronic illness.

LDN Helps Regulate Immune Response

After a while, the immune system in those with an autoimmune disease or chronic illness forgets how to shut off. Your body releases a steady stream of white blood cells and chemical messengers to prolong the immune response, which leads to chronic inflammation that can last for several months or even years. LDN increases the endorphins and enkephalins released into your body, making it easier to regulate your immune response. This is especially beneficial for those with autoimmune diseases and chronic illness because their immune response is typically chronically overstimulated. 

LDN Can Reduce Inflammation

LDN also reduces inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. This reduction in inflammation can help alleviate the symptoms of chronic illnesses and autoimmune conditions.  Less inflammation also means that your body finally has the opportunity to heal. When you work with a functional medicine doctor like those at Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine, managing inflammation is a crucial first step for patients with autoimmune disease and chronic illness.

LDN Improves Quality of Life

Many patients who incorporate LDN into their treatment plans report experiencing an enhanced sense of well-being, reduced pain, and improved sleep quality.  Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine treats many patients whose illness has been with them for many years. Over time, the stress and strain of chronic illness take a toll on your mental and emotional health. By addressing inflammation, pain, and mental strain, LDN can significantly improve the quality of life for those living with chronic conditions.
Low Dose Naltrexone helps with autoimmune disease. Women in peace on beach

Not only does LDN have many medicinal benefits, the treatment is relatively inexpensive, especially for individuals who are seeking alternative treatments for autoimmune disease or chronic illness. LDN can also be used in conjunction with other therapies to create a treatment plan that works for your specific needs. 

Treatment modalities such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and dietary interventions pair well with LDN. The combination of treatments may even lead to greater improvements in symptom management and overall health.

Side Effects of Low-Dose Naltrexon

Many of the known side effects of Naltrexone are attributed to higher doses. 

When you work with a qualified medical professional to find the correct dose for you, the side effects of low-dose naltrexone are typically negligible. The most noticeable side effect we’ve seen at Boulder Holistic is vivid dreaming that passes with continuous use. 

What to Avoid When Taking Low Dose Naltrexone

Low Dose Naltrexone lowers the feel-good effects of opioids and alcohol. Always speak with your primary care provider before you start taking LDN to ensure you avoid any conflicts with your current medications and treatments. 

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Overall, Low Dose Naltrexone offers a promising, natural, and cost-effective treatment option for those suffering from autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses. By modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation, LDN has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life for individuals living with these conditions. 

Our functional medicine providers are dedicated to helping you manage your chronic illness and autoimmune diseases with the most up-to-date treatments, including LDN. If you’re interested in exploring LDN as part of your treatment plan, speak with your primary care doctor or schedule ban appointment with Boulder Holistic Functional Medicine.

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Dr. Amy Reidhead

Dr. Reidhead is a double board certified Chiropractic Physician and Family Nurse Practitioner. She is also a Fellow of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture and holds a Bachelor of Science in both Nursing and Human Biology. She has spent the past 25 years honing her skills as a functional and integrative medical provider in Boulder, Colorado.