Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist that is taken orally to block opioid docking sites (receptors) on cells. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of addictions to opioids and alcohol. At significantly lower doses, low-dose Naltrexone has been used off-label as a treatment for various types of cancers, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), emphysema, as well as multiple sclerosis (MS) and other autoimmune diseases.
There has been limited clinical study of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) to treat MS. Most of the studies completed have been small non-randomized controlled trials. Of the studies completed, many show LDN to be safe and easily tolerated but few show improvements to the disease process itself. Some studies have demonstrated an improvement in quality of life, particularly in pain and fatigue management. Because the evidence to support the effectiveness of LDN in treating MS is lacking, it is not considered a disease modifying therapy. If you are interested in taking LDN, it is important for you to have a discussion with your healthcare provider that includes possible effectiveness, side effects and risks.
Naltrexone can cause liver damage, but it is most often seen at high doses and not the low dose. Other side effects include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, constipation, headache, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, depression and anxiety. Serious side effects that should be reported right away to a healthcare provider include confusion, hallucinations, blurred vision and severe vomiting or diarrhea.