Does Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) provide any protection against developing an autoimmune disease?
In my training, LDN is not to be used prophylactically for anything, so it’s difficult to say that it’s protective. However, in my practice, I correlate patients’ symptoms with findings from standard diagnostic tools. And by applying “optimal ranges” rather than “standard reference ranges” I can often detect early signs of illness and will provide treatment for a condition before it would otherwise be conventionally diagnosed. The goal with this method is to prevent a full-blown autoimmune attack, prevent disease progression or a flare in a person who is already diagnosed with something.
The definition of an autoimmune condition is an overactive and inappropriate immune response. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) can help reduce that overactivity and therefore, possibly prevent flares or progression. First, it balances our T-helper cell ratios. We know that in autoimmune conditions, TH2 often overpowers TH1 and LDN helps to bring that back into balance. We also know LDN is anti-inflammatory, again in a modulatory way, by balancing the response of toll-like receptors which in turn send signals to increase our cytokine response. So the end result is a reduction in inflammatory cells when there is an overactive response. Unlike steroids or biologics, LDN is not an immunosuppressant. It works more like a thermostat to keep the immune system operating around a healthy homeostasis or set-point. So in that way, LDN can help prevent progression but I would not prescribe LDN without signs or symptoms of a disease already in its early stages.