How Does Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) help with Hashimoto’s?

LDN Specialist Pharmacist Stephen Dickson
Pharmacist Stephen Dickson

How Does Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) help with Hashimoto’s?

In a case in which LDN is taken to improve thyroid function rather than have any analgesic effect, increasing LDN dose to 3mg produced a slightly dysrhythmic feeling, which I assume is an aspect of increased endorphin activity. What might be done regarding dose? 

When you take LDN, it does block opiate receptors in your brain, and those opiate receptors are part of your body's natural reward system. We find in Hashimoto's patients, often they are they are very sensitive. If you take too much LDN at once, you can get a feeling of being very flat or being almost like out of your body experience, which happens to very, very few people, but it can just be an effect of the Naltrexone. If someone is getting that effect, or they're feeling that they're very flat, or they're not able to experience emotions correctly, or respond to things properly, they're probably on too much LDN. Drop right back to 1 mg, increase at 0.5 mg a week or two weeks until you get a dose that's working for your, in this case, thyroid, but isn't giving you that particular feeling. I would say probably too much LDN, drop it back and take it more slowly. Titrating up your dose and making sure that you're having regular thyroid tests every two to three months to make sure that we haven't reversed the autoimmunity of Hashimoto's disease too quickly, and that you're getting this rush of far too much thyroxin, or far too much T 3 or T 4 in your body, which could also be causing that effect. 

With Hashimoto's, it's important to make sure that you go low and slow and have regular thyroid tests. 

If you switch from taking LDN from nighttime to the morning, can it interfere with the thyroid meds? And second, does it have to be taken at the same time every day? I've been on LDN since 2011. 

It doesn't interfere with the thyroid medication in any major way, and should make no difference to how well either of those things are absorbed. Yes, you do have to take at the same time every day. If you're swapping from nighttime dosing to morning dosing, skip a day and take it in the morning thereafter. 

I have Hashimoto's and have been on thyroid meds for ten years, can LDN still bring back some normal thyroid function? 

Yes. Even with people who have long-term Hashimoto's, we have had cases where taking LDN has brought back some thyroid function. The same advice as earlier, do not go up too quickly and monitor your thyroid and your thyroxin doses while you are titrating up. 

Can LDN restore thyroid function? 

This is a bit of a complicated question, but we have covered it in the previous questions, In Hashimoto's disease, where you still have intact thyroid and your thyroid is being attacked by your body in an autoimmune way, in a disease like Hashimoto’s, then yes, absolutely. Taking LDN can dampen down that autoimmunity and can also help restore thyroid function. Sometimes that works incredibly dramatically and very quickly and can be problematic. 

You do have to make sure that you modify your doses of externally taken oral supplementation with thyroid medication in line with your blood test results if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition.

If you've had your thyroid removed, then no, it's not going to do anything for your thyroid. We do have patients ask that quite frequently. They’ve had thyroid cancer and they've had their thyroid taken out. Could LDN help them get something like thyroid function back? For most people, the answer is no.