It’s estimated that Americans lose up to $300 billion in lost productivity each year due to chronic pain disorders such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and neuropathy. Managing the symptoms of these conditions can be challenging. This leaves many to seek out different forms of treatment to improve their well-being.
Low Dose Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication licensed for the management of drug and alcohol dependency. It’s showing promising results as an off-label treatment for chronic pain. It also helps with several other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and even Anxiety and Depression.
But can Low Dose Naltrexone improve your quality of life?
This article explores how naltrexone works. Low Dose Naltrexone has many benefits, as well as potential side effects you should be aware of before beginning treatment.
What is Low Dose Naltrexone?
Low Dose Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication that first received FDA approval in 1984 to treat opioid addiction. It was approved in 1994 to also treat alcohol dependency.
This drug is not an opioid and it is not addictive. It works by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain from feeling the effects of the drugs and alcohol. It also helps reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile, Low Dose Naltrexone is an effective anti-inflammatory treatment when given at low doses. This helps to combat the symptoms of chronic pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia.
In addition to managing physical pain, Low Dose Naltrexone is also showing promising results as a treatment for depression and anxiety.
Now that you understand a little more about Low Dose Naltrexone’s history of fighting drug and alcohol addictions, let’s discuss the many other ways that it may benefit you.
Chronic Pain Management
Chronic pain is a broad term used to describe ongoing pain and discomfort that lasts longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment. It typically begins from an illness or injury, but it can last for many years longer.
The pain can remain constant or come and go over periods of days or weeks. It often interferes with daily life activities like work, sleep, and social enjoyment.
Common examples of chronic pain include:
- Joint pain such as arthritis
- Muscle pain, which can be localized such as lower back pain, or generalized like what is found with Fibromyalgia
- Nerve pain (neuropathy) from diabetes, shingles, or sciatica
- Internal pain from health problems such as irritable bowel syndrome or stomach ulcers
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain from tumors
- Scar pain from surgery or injury
Given at a low dose, Low Dose Naltrexone works as an anti-inflammatory treatment. It also blocks MU receptors in the brain from feeling pain and increases the body’s production of endorphins.
Low Dose Naltrexone is primarily used for chronic pain management. However, some studies suggest that it may also be beneficial for treating acute pain. This drug can work for short-term pain following a wound, surgery, or other traumatic events.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are common mental health disorders that affect millions of people of all ages.
But what are depression and anxiety? Depression is a lingering feeling of sadness or hopelessness while anxiety involves overwhelming feelings of worry or feel.
While these two disorders may seem opposite in many ways, they both can cause sleep disruption, irritability, and physical aches and pains. It’s not uncommon for a person to experience anxiety and depression at the same time.
When a person suffers from mental disorders such as depression or anxiety, the brain responds to stressors by flooding the body with high levels of cortisol. This hormone can cause feelings of anxiety, panic, and tension and lead to fatigue, poor sleep, and an inability to concentrate.
Several studies have shown that low doses of naltrexone can help to normalize cortisol levels in the body. This happens by activating the endorphin system. Releasing endorphins helps the patient’s mood improve and abates feelings of anxiety.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a poorly understood condition that affects multiple body systems. It is characterized by extreme fatigue and frequently includes chronic pain. Though the cause is still unknown, scientists believe several factors can contribute to the onset of CFS including infections, immune system changes, and possibly even genetic components.
As with depression and anxiety, Low Dose Naltrexone relieves CFS symptoms by normalizing cortisol levels in the body. Additionally, Low Dose Naltrexone may help to stimulate a person’s growth hormone. This can further contribute to feelings of improved health and well-being in those living with this condition.
Other Potential Uses for Low Dose Naltrexone
In addition, low doses of Low Dose naltrexone potentially treat a wide range of health issues such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Restless leg syndrome
- Quality of life issues in those with cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sickle cell disease
Low Dose Naltrexone Dosage
The typical naltrexone dosage for treating opioid addiction and alcoholism is 50-100mg daily. However, off-label treatment of pain and mental health issues requires a much smaller dose. Patients with these types of ailments typically begin with a dose of only 1.5mg. They are observed for a while to see how they respond to treatment and then they may be raised to a 3 or 6mg dose.
Speaking of tolerating treatment, you may be wondering what kind of side effects can be expected when starting a low-dose Naltrexone regimen.
Side Effects of Low Dose Naltrexone
Like most other medications, Low Dose naltrexone has a range of potential side effects. Some of these are more likely than others and vary depending on the person taking the medication.
Potential side effects include:
- Sleep disruption such as insomnia or drowsiness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Abdominal pain
- Increased risk of infections
- Blood pressure changes
Low Dose Naltrexone is generally well tolerated by most people. However, it is important to be aware of the potential side effects before beginning any treatment.
If you experience one or more of the above side effects, talk to your family doctor. They may recommend an adjustment to your current dosage.
Is Lose Dose Naltrexone Right for You?
Although Low Dose Naltrexone is a medication licensed for the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency, there’s more. It is also showing promising results as a treatment for a wide range of chronic pain and mental health disorders.
While Low Dose Naltrexone has many potential benefits, it also has some potential side effects. As such, you should discuss your options with your doctor before beginning any treatment.
How to Get Started with Low Dose Naltrexone
Low Dose Naltrexone requires a prescription from your doctor and is available as a compounded medication in many forms including capsules, suspensions and even creams. As a compounded medication the exact dose can be tailored to individual patients and their response to the medication over time.
It’s important to discuss any treatment changes with your doctor. Factors such as your personal health history or other drugs you take may prevent you from being a good candidate for Low Dose Naltrexone.
Do You Have Questions About Low Dose Naltrexone?
Chronic pain and mental disorders affect millions of people every year. Low Dose Naltrexone is a medication that has been shown to improve the symptoms of these types of conditions by increasing endorphins in the body. While Low Dose Naltrexone is not a cure for these diseases, it can help to manage symptoms and make life more enjoyable.
If you are wondering if Low Dose Naltrexone could help you manage debilitating symptoms of chronic pain, depression or anxiety contact us at Palm Harbor Pharmacy. We can answer your questions, discuss various treatment options that may be available to you, and help you connect with a physician to get started. You don’t have to suffer in silence!