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Question for Dr. V
lupylisa44 posted:
I am curious to know your opinion about low dose naltrexone for lupus. My Primary care doctor is a Harvard M.D. who practices integrative medicine. She suggested that I try low dose naltrexone to help relieve many painful symptoms of lupus. Do you know anything about this treatment? If so, what is your opinion of it?

With love, with patience and with faith, we'll make our way.
lupylisa44 responded:
With love, with patience and with faith, we'll make our way.
R Swamy Venuturupalli, MD, FACR responded:
Naltrexone is an inexpensive generic pharmaceutical approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration since 1984 for treating opiate and alcohol addiction. Usually doses of about 0.5 mg/kg of body weight are used to treat chronic opioid or alcohol addiction. However, recent observations indicate that low doses of naltrexone (0.08 mg/kg) may have beneficial effects on the immune system. There have been some preliminary studies suggesting benefit of LDN in Crohn's disease and MS as well as HIV/AIDS, certain types of cancer. Side effects seem to be usually both mild and transitory.

One small nightly dose of Naltrexone has the effect of temporarily blocking certain opioid receptors. This causes a several-fold increase in endogenous endorphins (opiate-like chemicals produced naturally in the body) in the morning when a patient awakens. This leads to a positive effect on the mood and if we were to extrapolate from animal studies, seems to help with immune function regulation.

According to some patient reports, the endorphin increase at night can also make dreams more vivid and create disturbances in sleep. I have no experience prescribing this medication, and at this time it remains experimental for the treatment of autoimmune disease.

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