LDN inflammatory bowel


New evidence just published found Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) was helpful in inflammatory bowel disease. Naltrexone is an antidote or blocking agent to opiates (like morphine). In low doses it has shown anti-inflammatory properties, anti-cancer properties, and anti-pain properties. It is being used to treat fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. It is tangentially notable as a nod to homeopathic principles that morphine given in ultra-low doses actually increases pain. Inflammatory bowel disease is mainly comprised of Crohn's disease and ulceratice colitis. Diarrhea, cramping and even bleeding can result. In some unfortunate people no conventional remedies calm the inflammation down.


For 12 weeks patients who were not responding to conventional treatment were treated with LDN. All responded with 1/4 going into remission. The rest had significant improvement of their disease. Inflammatory bowel disease has a link to opiate receptors- which LDN targets. Immune cells tend to overexpress opiate receptors and LDN has been shown in animal models to decrease inflammatory markers- a good sign it should have effect in IBD. 

The results of this trial showed increased remissions but the researchers noted the response of intestinal wall cell cultures to heal wounds was improved in the presence of LDN. 

bottom line

The Bottom Line

Low Dose Naltrexone has accumulating evidence that it is of general medical use. Like other homeopathic medications there are few side effects to worry about. In my patient populations occasionally I see vivid dreams, insomnia, or headaches at the higher end of dosing. These can be avoided by lower dosing if poorly tolerated. When examining the risks of the other medications used for IBD the side effect profile is typically much greater. These facts alone make LDN a logical medication to try for many people, especially for those with inflammatory bowel disease that is resistant to conventional treatments.

LDN Ulceratice Colitis

Low Dose Naltrexone Associated With Reduced Medication Use In Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease

Evidence is emerging that Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has a valid place in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. Naltrexone is pain receptor blocker. I use high doses of its relative Narcan to revive people with overdoses from pain killers in the hospital. In very low doses it has multiple interesting beneficial effects on the body including anti-inflammatory, pain relieving, anti-cancer and more. 

This study was creatively undertaken with prescription data from over 500 patients with ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory gut condition that causes pain, bleeding and often necessitates the use of potent steroids and anti-inflammatories and immunotherapies (with all their potential side effects). About half of the patients were on LDN and the other half were not treated with LDN. The researchers could see the prescriptions filled by both groups and noted some distinct differences.

The LDN group filled about half the amount of steroids (44% and 53% reductions in Crohn's and Ulcerative colitis patients). Overall there was a 12% reduction of their filling (and presumed need) of all medications. This study is done in Norway where access to health care and prescriptions are not a potential confounding issue. LDN was associated with less use of anti-inflammatory drugs and immunosuppressants. There are several helpful lifestyle modifications and natural medications to help manage Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease and now there is even more exciting evidence that LDN is a cornerstone of treatment. 

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