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Low-Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist drug that is used to treat people with a dependence on alcohol and certain opioid medications. Naltrexone has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in people with addictions to alcohol and opioids, and it works by decreasing cravings and decreasing the effects of alcohol and opioids.

Significantly lower doses of naltrexone – called low-dose naltrexone or LDN – have been investigated and may be used off-label (for a use other than what the FDA has approved it) to treat multiple sclerosis (MS) or other conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and emphysema.1

What research has been conducted on LDN and MS?

Data from a few small clinical studies indicates that LDN may have beneficial effects in MS. However, more quality research studies on larger groups of patients is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of LDN on MS, and LDN is considered an experimental, alternative treatment.2

The effect of LDN on quality of life in people with MS has been examined in two placebo-controlled, double-blind studies. One study showed significant improvement in quality of life, but the other study found no effect. A third study that looked retrospectively at patient data found that long-term use of LDN in people with MS did not result in an exacerbation of MS symptoms. The study authors also concluded that LDN appears to be safe, as it did not cause a deterioration in general health or cause significant side effects. While LDN seems to be safe and may improve quality of life in people living with MS, there is not clinical evidence to prove if LDN has any effect on the disease progression or if it reduces symptoms of MS.2,3

What are the side effects of LDN?

Common side effects experienced by people taking LDN include headache, fatigue, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, constipation, depression, and anxiety.1

Written by Emily Downward | Last review date: July 2019.
  1. Non-approved treatments used for MS disease modification. National Multiptle Sclerosis Society. Available at Accessed 4/26/18.
  2. Raknes G, Småbrekke L. Low dose naltrexone in multiple sclerosis: Effects on medication use. A quasi-experimental study. Cox D, ed. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(11):e0187423. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187423.
  3. Ludwig MD, Turel AP, Zagon IS, McLaughlin PJ. Long-term treatment with low-dose naltrexone maintains stable health in patients with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin. 2016 Jan-Dec;2:1-11. doi: 2055217316672242.