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Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) as an Adjuvant Cancer Treatment – The Karlfeldt Center

LDN Naltrexone For Cancer Therapy

Naltrexone is a pharmaceutical drug that the FDA approved in the 1980s. It was originally used to treat opioid and heroin addiction. However, research conducted by Dr. Bernard Bihari, M.D. in the 1980s and 1990s reveals that its use created improved immune response in his HIV patients and led to improved outcomes for those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, lymphoma, and also lupus patients. 

He also found that many who received conventional cancer therapies and failed to respond could benefit from the administration of naltrexone or LDN. Generally speaking, over 60% of those who have been diagnosed with cancer may experience marked benefits from administration of LDN for their disease.

Since 1985 when the first immunotherapy findings were produced, Dr. Ian Zagon and his associates at Pennsylvania State Medical School have 300 published papers showing that LDN use causes an increase in endorphin production and stimulates an immune response, and in particular, in the creation of Natural Killer Cells (NK).

How LDN works

LDN works to increase endorphins, also known as peptides the body produces during physical activity, including exercise. These compounds not only provide the “high” experienced during exertion but also support and improve immune function and well-being. Low dose naltrexone has the ability to affect the opioid growth factor (OGF), a condition that induces the growth of cancerous cells. In one study, 31 types of cancer revealed a high level of this phenomenon.

Because this drug increases endorphin and enkephalin levels, its effectiveness in impacting the opioid receptors in tumors and possibly even contributing to death in cancerous cells has been well-noted.

Some cancer types which can be benefited from use of LDN that show high levels of OGF include the following:

  • Lung, Breast, Endometrial, Pancreatic, Prostate, Uterine, Throat, Ovarian, Bladder, Liver, Colon, and Rectal Cancer
  • Lymphocytic leukemia
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Myeloid leukemia
  • Glioblastoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Renal cell carcinoma
  • Carcinoid
  • Malignant melanoma
  • Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • Blood/lymphatic system cancer such as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Practitioners have found that LDN is useful as an adjuvant therapy with traditional anti-cancer drugs such as the chemotherapy Cisplatin. In a 2011 study using animal subjects published in an issue of Experimental Biology and Medicine, researchers found that over a six hour period, administration of naltrexone every second day lowered the development of DNA and replicating malignant cells in the ovaries.

In some case studies, those experiencing late stage pancreatic cancer were successfully administered intravenous alpha-lipoic acid which has typically been used as a secondary support to primary cancer therapy, in conjunction with LDN, with no adverse effects as well as increased survival times reported.

In another case, ovarian cancer cell growth was shown to be restricted and mice were observed to have tumors that decreased in size by 45%.

The drug is believed to have effects reducing tumor growth by way of the following

Creates a rise in the density and number of opiate receptors on cell membranes of the tumor. This produces an increased response to growth-inhibiting effects of endorphin levels, which then triggers apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells

Creates an increase of natural killer (NK) cell numbers and corresponding activity in those cells, as well as lymphocyte activated CD8. These are observed to be highly responsive to a rise in endorphin levels.

Prompts an increase of met-enkaphalin (endorphin produced by the adrenal medulla in large amounts) and beta-endorphin found in the bloodstream

Some benefits of LDN

  • Minimal side-effects when administered at low-doses (vivid dreams or loose stools have been reported)
  • Those experiencing cancer can benefit from anti-inflammatory and/or pain relief achieved while using LDN as it has been found to provide not only pain-relief but also fortification of the body’s defense mechanisms while fighting cancer.
  • Modification of certain genes and promotes the death of cancerous cells
  • Has worked in cancers that have failed to respond to conventional therapies
  • Directly blocks Toll-like receptors which are known to produce inflammatory compounds that would induce the growth of cancerous cells and encourage spreading (metastases)
  • Inhibits cancer cell division, another marker of tumor growth
  • Is cost-effective

Some may not benefit from LDN

As many cancer patients receive drug therapy for pain management during cancer treatment, LDN is not indicated for those prescribed opioid drugs such as morphine as the drug can behave as an antagonist to these types of medications. Please consult with your practitioner to determine if LDN is appropriate for your condition.

Curious how Naturopathic Medicine could help you? Schedule a service or talk to one of our Doctors. See you at The Karlfeldt Center!



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