Naltrexone has been traditionally used to help drug and alcohol abusers. But did you know that at very low doses, Naltrexone is a highly effective off-label therapy for cancer?
I rarely advocate for the use the pharmaceutical drugs, but low dose naltrexone (LDN) holds so much promise for those with cancer, that it virtues need to become known.
Naltrexone was approved by the FDA decades ago for opiate and alcohol dependence. And although the “off-label use” of a drug—prescribing it to treat conditions other than those for which it is approved—is perfectly legal, almost all doctors fail to do this. Sadly, most doctors refuse to consider any and all effective therapies that fall outside the mainstream. But this is a terrible disservice to those with cancer!
So why aren’t doctors prescribing it? It comes down to money and ignorance. In this case, the drug is cheap and the patent for naltrexone expired. Therefore there is no financial incentive for the drug company to advertise or push doctors to recommend it. Plus, or because of this and the resulting ignorance, many doctors take the stance that “if it were that good I would know about it”.
However, through the work of prominent doctors and researchers such as Dr Bernard Bihari MD, Dr Burt Berkson MD, and others, more and more researchers and patients are taking notice—and I suggest you do too!
The Birth of LDN as a Promising Therapy
Dr Bihari first started using naltrexone for his patients with addiction problems. He found that it worked well by attaching to the opioid receptors in the brain that heroin and other opiate drugs seek out. In doing so, it blocks these receptors effectively preventing the ‘high’ that these drugs offer. However, during this time he found that naltrexone also blocked the binding of the body’s own endorphins and natural opiates that boost mood and sense of well-being. Thus, his patients felt terrible, so he stopped using the naltrexone.
However, through his work on AIDS Bihari found that at low doses given at bedtime, naltrexone stimulated endorphin release. He found that endorphin levels doubled and often tripled which jumpstarted his patient’s immune systems— and the patients got better.
According to Dr Bihari, endorphins play a central role in immune function, and LDN enhances the immune response by stimulating endorphin production.
With this new development he began to focus on the immune system as a healing tool. He found that LDN worked for other diseases linked to immune dysfunction such as MS — and cancer as well.
How LDN Works
LDN works by blocking opioid receptors, which in turn helps activate the body’s immune system. It seems that when LDN is taken at bedtime, it binds to opioid receptors and temporarily blocks endorphins from attaching. This signals the body to increase endorphin production. The result is a dramatic boost in immune function. Then the opiates bind to receptors in bone marrow stem cells, macrophages, natural killer cells, T and B cells, and other immune cells and influence their development, differentiation, and function.
In other words, opioid receptors aren’t exclusive to the brain. They’re also present on all types of immune cells, including macrophages, natural killer cells, T- and B-cells, and even stem cells. As a result, the flood of endorphins set into motion by LDN stimulates the immune system and enhances the body’s ability to fight disease.
LDN upregulates opioid receptors in cancer cells, stimulating the process of programmed cell death (apoptosis) — thus killing some of the cancer cells. It also stimulates certain immune cells that tend to go after cancer cells, including T4 and natural killer cells (NK cells).
Recent research also suggests that natural opiates also bind to receptors on cancer cells and inhibit their growth. LDN has been found to shrink tumors and inhibit their growth.
Major institutions such as The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, Pennsylvania have done considerable research on LDN. Numerous case studies have shown it is effective for a variety of cancer types, including colon, prostate, melanoma, multiple myeloma, breast, ovary, uterine, brain, neuroblastoma, lung, Hodgkin’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
ALA and LDN, a Powerful Combination
There is also a combination therapy called the Berkson Method – using Alpha-Lipoic Acid alongside LDN. Lipoic acid is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and generates and increases levels of vitamins C and E as well as CoQ10 and glutathione. Moreover, ALA is a modifier of gene expression. It seems to interfere with some of the genes that promote cancer. Note: look for R-ALA as it is the form found naturally occurring in the body and is the biologically active form of alpha lipoic acid. S-ALA is synthetic and should not be used.
Can I take LDN If I take Tamoxifen or Aromatase Inhibitors?
Several of my clients voiced their concerns about compatibility with aromatase inhibitors or tamoxifen. There are few reports of LDN interactions with other medications (do not use with opiate painkillers). Specifically though, according to Integrative Pharmacist David Restrepo, RPh (Vitahealth Apothecaries, New York), this should not be a problem with hormone therapies:
There is no data that suggests using AI’s, (regardless of the generation i.e. 1st 2nd or 3rd) and LDN cause any drug interaction. It’s important to keep a few things in mind.
Firstly, the normal dose of naltrexone is anywhere from 50-300mg daily and used as an opiate antagonist. Using this high of a dose would make there be a better chance of experiencing “side effects” but again, no drug interaction with AI’s. Secondly, naltrexone is selective to opiate receptors where AI’s are selective estrogen receptor modulators.
Lastly, they both are metabolized by the liver, BUT naltrexone, at such a low dose, is effective because it causes a “spike” in the bloodstream, where AI’s stay in the bloodstream much longer because of their relatively longer half-life. Any person worried about the possibility of drug interactions can just take their AI in the morning and the LDN AT NIGHT which is when it works best anyway. David Restrepo, RPh
What If I have Hashimoto’s, Graves or Another Autoimmune Disease?
One should always consult with a qualified doctor before taking any medication, but some people can actually achieve remission from autoimmune diseases by using LDN. This is because LDN modulates the immune system. It lowers inflammation as well as the immune reaction. However, if you have thyroid issues or any type of autoimmune disease, your doctor will likely start you out at a lower than normal dose.
Is LDN a Cure?
I’m not suggesting that LDN is a the magical cure for cancer, and in fact, it is not actually ‘curative’. This is partly because, like chemo and radiation, it does not resolve the reason for the cancer. But it is also is important to understand that LDN is a cell growth regulator. The goal is to regulate these cells and slow down the proliferation. Taken continuously, countless patients have achieved and maintained remission. Thus, in some cases,with the use of LDN cancer can be treated as a manageable chronic disease without the damaging effects of conventional chemotherapy and radiation–which on their own are rarely curative.
Therefore, I do recommend that you look into this safe, inexpensive ($25–30 a month) therapy. It may take some work convincing your doctor to write the script as this is an “off-label” use of an approved drug—but its long track record of efficacy makes it worth the effort. If you need some assistance with finding a doctor who will write the script, respond below in the comment field.
LDN requires a prescription and at is only available at compounding pharmacies. LDN must not be a timed-released preparation and should be taken at bedtime. The therapeutic dose ranges from 1.5-4.5mg, the later being the typical dose. Some people find that they have trouble sleeping or experience vivid dreams the first week taking LDN. This issue should subside but consult with your doctor as he or she may want to reduce your dose for a week or so. If you have trouble filling your script, contact Vitahealth apothecary. www.vitahealthrx.com.
If you need something to back up your request to your doctor or just for more information, visit www.lowdosenaltrexone.org to learn more as well as to find thousands of inspiring healing stories.
Again, I am not suggesting that LDN is the magical ‘cure-all’ for cancer, but it does offer a safe and inexpensive alternative to toxic cancer therapies. You might have to find an ‘outside the box’ doctor to prescribe this off-label drug, but it may well be worth the effort.
Lastly, this is something I have added to my own protocol. After all, who couldn’t use a few more ‘feel good’ endorphins. For more of my story, please click here. It is not complete as far as supplements go, but that list is long.
This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any diseases or conditions. The information in this post does not represent medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss this information with your integrative oncologist or naturopathic doctor. Always consult with a medical doctor before you consider any prescription or over the counter drug or herb.
Read 12 Things a Cancer Doctor Should Never Say, my most recent article on The Truth About Cancer Website.
~~If you don’t know your options, you don’t have any~~
Elyn Jacobs is a breast cancer survivor and holistic cancer strategist who helps people make better, healthier, non-toxic choices. She emphasizes the critical nature of addressing the root cause of cancer and not just its presenting symptoms (such as the tumor). Elyn specializes in understanding the role of estrogen in breast cancer and debunks the myths associated. She brings a plethora of knowledge to her practice and will help you think outside the box so you can incorporate every lifeline you may need for long term survival. Elyn is a Contributing Editor for The Truth About Cancer and was creator and host of the Survive and Live Well Radio Show on the Cancer Support Network. She is on the Medical Advisory Board for BeatCancer.Org and is on the Advisory Board to the Radical Remission Project. Elyn was the former Executive Director of the Emerald Heart Cancer Foundation. Contact Elyn via her website. Elyn offers consults via Skype, phone or in person.
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