Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a breakthrough treatment that helps thousands of patients worldwide. Early patient trials using a very low dose of the anti-opiate addiction drug naltrexone revealed completely different purposes including treating chronic and autoimmune disease.
LDN was discovered at Penn State University’s Hershey Medical Center by scientist Dr. Ian Zagon and his team in 1980, including Dr. Patricia J. McLaughlin, who published a seminal paper in Science in 1983 describing the potential benefits of LDN. She currently continues to head laboratory research on the use of LDN in cancer, MS, and diabetic-associated wound healing.
The clinical use of low dose naltrexone in patients was initiated by Dr. Bernard Bihari at his NYC practice, who first used it for treating multiple sclerosis, the myelin-damaging disease, which in turn impairs the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body. In particular, MS tears away at the myelin that covers nerves in the brain, spinal cord, and eyes. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including vision loss, poor balance, mood swings, sharp pains, muscle weakness, cramping, spasms, and paralysis. Seeing the results, Bihari suggested that it could be useful for many other diseases.
In 1985, Dr. Bihari discovered the effects of a much smaller dose of naltrexone (approximately 3mg once a day) on the body’s immune system. He found that this low dose, taken at bedtime, was able to enhance a patient’s response to infection by HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
In the mid-1990’s, Dr. Bihari found that patients in his practice with cancer (such as lymphoma or pancreatic cancer) could also benefit, in some cases dramatically, from LDN. In addition, people who had an autoimmune disease (such as lupus) often showed good control of disease activity while taking it.
As of September 2016, over 300,000 patients worldwide enjoy the benefits of LDN through safe and breakthrough treatments.