Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Therapy

Updated May 28, 2017

OVERVIEW

LDN stands for “Low Dose Naltrexone”. Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the effects of drugs called opioids. Codeine, morphine, heroin, hydromorphone, oxycodone and methadone are examples of opioids. Naltrexone has been used as a treatment for addiction to opioids and also to alcohol.

Naltrexone comes in a 50mg tablet, but it has been used in low doses of 3-4mg a day by Dr. Bernard Bihari (a neurologist in New York) for treatment of various immune diseases as well as cancer. This is why it is referred to as “low dose” when it is used as a cancer treatment.

LDN works by boosting the levels of a natural opioid in the body called OGF (opioid growth factor). LDN blocks the OGF receptors (also called zeta receptors) temporarily, which triggers the body to make more OGF to counteract the blocking effect. It has been discovered that many cancers respond to the increased levels of OGF, and their growth can be stopped or slowed down.

OGF can be administered directly instead of LDN, but is must be given by injection, and is much more costly.

LDN RESEARCH

Dr. Bihari has treated about 450 cancer patients with LDN, and he reports that:

  • over 270 (60%) had significant benefits from LDN
  • 86 of those (25%) “have shown objective signs of significant tumor shrinkage, at least a 75% reduction.”
  • 125 patients (35%) “have stabilized and/or are moving toward remission.”

(Source: www.ldninfo.org)

Dr. Ian Zagon and other researchers at Pennsylvania State University have conducted extensive research with OGF in cell cultures and rats implanted with human cancer cells. They have shown that many cancers including colon, pancreatic, squamous cell, neuroblastoma and renal cell respond to OGF treatment. They have also shown that OGF combined with chemotherapy (5-FU, gemcitabine, paclitaxel) appears to work better than chemo or OGF alone.

In a preliminary Phase I human study conducted by Dr. Zagon, OGF was used to treat 16 patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. Two patients had complete disappearance of liver metastases, and survival was roughly doubled when compared to patients who receive standard chemotherapy with 5-FU or gemcitabine (Anti-Cancer Drugs 15:203-209 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins).

In addition, patients treated with OGF were able to maintain good pain control without increasing their pain medications over several months.

CANCER TYPES

Here is a list of the cancer types which have shown a response to LDN in Dr. Bihari’s research:
Bladder Cancer Malignant Melanoma
Breast Cancer Multiple Myeloma
Carcinoid Neuroblastoma
Colon & Rectal Cancer Ovarian Cancer
Glioblastoma Pancreatic Cancer
Liver Cancer Prostate Cancer (untreated)
Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell) Renal Cell Carcinoma
Lymphocytic Leukemia (chronic) Throat Cancer
Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and NHL) Uterine Cancer

(Source: www.ldninfo.org)

Based on our own experience, we believe any cancer type may respond to LDN.

SAFETY

Naltrexone is FDA approved and Health Canada approved. It is not generally accepted as a cancer treatment due to the limited amount of human research. Use of LDN in cancer is considered “off-label”. The safety profile of naltrexone is excellent when prescribed by an experienced physician. The main side effects from this drug are insomnia or vivid dreams. If it is used improperly in patients taking opioid medications, it can result in a serious withdrawal reaction (sweats, chills, anxiety, vomiting, body pains).

OGF is a safe naturally-occurring substance found in the body, and its use in cancer is also considered “off-label”. In the human Phase I trial at Penn State University, the most serious side effect of OGF was a drop in blood pressure. This only occurred if OGF was administered i.v. and was preventable by changing the speed of infusion.

TREATMENT DURATION

In order to determine if LDN is effective in treating your cancer, we recommend at least 3 months of treatment. For slow growing cancers, longer treatment is needed, up to 6 months. If your cancer responds to LDN, it may be continued indefinitely. If you experience significant side effects (rare), treatment will be stopped and may be restarted at a reduced dose, or changed to something else.

UNCOMMON USE OF LDN

Most doctors are not aware of the promising data on cancer treatment with LDN. It is also difficult to prescribe off-label medications (like LDN) for cancer due to the large number of regulations that must be followed. Since LDN is off patent, there is little motivation to conduct expensive Phase II and Phase III trials which would lead to its official approval as a cancer treatment drug.

QUALITY OF LDN

At Medicor, quality of medication is always a top priority. Our LDN capsules are custom compounded by a skilled pharmacist and randomly tested by an independent lab to ensure the highest quality, because errors can occur when a low strength medication is compounded. Not all compounding pharmacies have the expertise to produce low strength capsules like LDN. We only use Avicel filler material to prevent delayed release of the medication (which could reduce its effectiveness).

COSTS

The cost of LDN in the range of $70-90 per month depending on the formulation and quantity purchased (1mg capsules, 3mg capsules, 4.5mg capsules, or 1mg/ml custom flavoured oral liquid). It may be possible to obtain inferior quality LDN at a lower cost because the LDN is not quality-controlled, manufactured in a 3rd world country, or is not certified pharmaceutical grade. We recommend caution with such products as they may compromise your health.

STARTING TREATMENT AT MEDICOR

Please obtain your pathology report confirming the diagnosis of cancer type (if applicable), your latest CT scan or MRI (if applicable), and your latest blood test report. If you do not have a pathology report (e.g. if you did not have a biopsy), we require some documentation confirming the diagnosis of cancer.

You can call us at (416) 227-0037 or email us at info@medicorcancer.com  to make an appointment to discuss your individual case. We will do our best to respond to your request promptly. A valid Health Card from any province (except Québec) is required for a free consultation. Patients from Québec must pre-pay for consultation since the Minstère de la Santé does not properly pay Ontario doctors for insured services. Insured patients are only required to pay for the medication, as it is not covered by Ontario Drug Benefits.