Low Dose Naltrexone May Alleviate Crohn’s Disease Symptoms

Low Dose Naltrexone May Alleviate Crohn’s Disease Symptoms
For patients with incurable diseases such as Crohn's disease, new treatments to help maintain symptom remission can provide hope for living a more comfortable life. One proposed treatment under investigation for Crohn's disease is low dose naltrexone (LDN). Its use in treating Crohn's disease remains controversial due to the small number of studies that have been conducted and their inconclusive results. Low dose naltrexone, named as such because it is given in 4.5 mg doses, is an off-label use of naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist. According to Crohn's Forum, chronic administration of opioids inhibits the normal immune response and enhances pro-inflammatory cytokine production. Naltrexone can reverse these immunosuppressive effects by blocking opioid receptors. Since Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, researchers have been interested in administering LDN to combat inflammation in patients. An open-label pilot prospective trial published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology, entitled, "Low-Dose Naltrexone Therapy Improves Active Crohn's Disease," by a research group led by Jill Smith, MD, and Ian Zagon, PhD, at Pennsylvania State University first investigated the safety and efficacy of LDN in patients with active Crohn's disease. Seventeen patients were studied for twelve weeks while using 4.5 mg naltrexone daily. Inflammatory bowel disease questionnaires (IBDQs), short-form (SF-36) quality of life surveys, and Crohn's disease activity index (CDAI) scores were assessed before the study, every four weeks during the study, and four weeks past the study. As a result of LDN treatment, CDAI scores decreased significantly and remained lower than baseline at four weeks beyond the study. Nearly all (89%) of the patients respon
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