Treatment for Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Naltrexone is a medication prescribed to help people addicted to heroin and other opiates. It is also known to help people with MS, when used in very small doses (50 times weaker than doses used in addiction). Its use is generally considered safe. It seems that it can help to reduce the muscle spasticity, often present in multiple sclerosis and improve the quality of sleep.
Side effects, although quite uncommon, can include agitation, sleep disturbance and abnormal liver function, which usually resolve when the medication is discontinued. If you benefit from taking low-dose naltrexone, you will be asked to periodically have routine blood tests.
LDN can be prescribed in the UK as an “unlicensed” medicine and there are a few doctors who are willing to prescribe it and monitor its use. Roughly three-quarters of those who have tried it report some significant benefits. The same applies to other approaches to MS such as dealing with underlying immune issues such as non-allergic food reactivities, correcting nutritional deficiencies and removing metals and chemicals from the body, such as amalgam fillings.
For a balanced article, published by the MS Society UK, visit..
Naltrexone is licensed in the UK to help treat people who are addicted to opiates, such as heroin. Advocates of its use in MS suggest it should be given at a much lower dose (10-50 times lower) for the treatment of MS.
Some research suggests that when naltrexone is given at low doses, it triggers a prolonged up-regulation of endorphins. This increase may have an anti-inflammatory effect which could be beneficial in the treatment of MS.
It has also been hypothesised that LDN may be able to reduce injury to the nervous system by decreasing the harmful effects of two types of chemicals called ‘free radicals’ and ‘excitotoxins’ (Med Hypotheses 2005; 64(4):721-4).
In a small pilot clinical trial (Smith JP et al., American Journal of Gastroenterology; 2007 102(4): 820-8) LDN was shown to improve active Crohn’s disease, a condition which is caused by the immune system causing damage and inflammation to the intestinal tract.
At the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in Chicago in April 2008, two groups reported on the use of LDN. Dr. Gianvito Martino (San Raffaele Hospital, Milan, Italy) and colleagues assessed LDN in an open labeled trial of 40 people with primary progressive MS for six months, evaluating its safety and tolerability. They reported:
five patients dropped out
a significant reduction of spasticity was measured at the end of the trial
the most common side effects included short-term increases in liver enzymes, urinary tract infections, mild agitation and sleep disturbance.