Should LDN be used with other disease modifying drugs for Multiple Sclerosis?


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I asked an expert, Dr. Ian Zagon

He was very kind to respond

~Dr. I

Dr. Ian S. Zagon is Distinguished Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences at The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, The Pennsylvania State University, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

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His response:

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There are so many misconceptions about LDN that we could spend an hour correcting all of this ancedotal information. The problem is that patients do not read the literature, and offer their “opinions” as if this is true.  LDN is a great example of the good and bad about the internet.

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LDN is an immunosuppressant – it works through the opioid growth factor – opioid growth factor receptor axis

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OGF (LDN) acts as an inhibitor of the cell cycle, increasing p16 and p21 in the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitory pathway. We are in the midst of writing all of this up for publication. On a practical basis, you would not recommend an immunostimulant to someone with MS or Crohn’s Disease (we just finished a Phase II trial on LDN and Crohn’s right now – worked nicely).

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LDN should be fine for MS – with or without other therapy

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I suspect you will find that you will be tapering your patient off of other therapies very shortly, and having your patient on LDN only.

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Remember – use around 3 mg/day

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Start your patient with LDN daily – try it in the evening.

If there is disturbed sleep, switch to the morning (it will make no difference in efficacy)

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Skip’s Pharmacy in Boca Raton, FL – they are on the web – has excellent LDN (some compounding pharmacies do not use the right bulking agents and the LDN is weak or inactive).

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[PJ’s Prescription Shoppe in San Diego makes high quality capsules. And I do at times prescribe a suspension that is easier to adjust doses. The important thing is to use Avicel filler ( microcrystalline cellulose) and do not make SR sustained release capsules….ns]


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I wanted to add that OGF is the real, natural biological peptide and its mechanism is on native physiological processes. LDN is merely a tool to access and take advantage of the OGF-OGFr axis.  There are other ways of taking advantage of this system as well.

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Secondly, OGF and LDN work nicely in combination with chemotherapy as well

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We have a great clinical study going showing that OGF and gemcitabine are a terrific combo for treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer. Patients on OGF alone have lived for 2 years, and right now we have a patient on OGF and gemcitabine who is out around 15 months – and is doing splendidly. We have a paper out on OGF and pancreatic cancer – Phase I. Another study, phase II, is in press in Open Access Journal of Clinical Trials – look for it.

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Another woman, lives close by me, who was an aerobics instructor and has MS, has been taking LDN. She has made a remarkable recovery and is back teaching aerobics. Her family donated $50,000 to our research in honor/appreciation for our discovery, and 8 months later (the other day in fact) she gave us another $50,000. We have a group of researchers now doing the science.

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Dr. Zagon

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Multiple Sclerosis & Low Dose Naltrexone – One Woman’s Story


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Vicki Finlayson and Low Dose Naltrexone

Before naltrexone relieved pain and symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis,

she had used Oxycontin and morphine for a year and a half

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While prescribing low dose naltrexone (LDN) for patients with pain in recent years, I have become deeply impressed with it. Of course, it is inescapable to get very far on the internet without seeing a flood of videos and comments on the use of low dose naltrexone for Multiple Sclerosis. I once spent an entire afternoon reading the literature and watching the videos of patients, doctors, and researchers. How I wish I had the links so I could post them here now! The stories of Dr. Pat Crowley sitting at his desk as his patients in County Kilkenny, Ireland, described the successes they had had with multiple sclerosis touched my heart deeply. Naltrexone is not a cure but its beneficial effects on the immune system have been described here and were first noted by Dr. Bihari in 1985. Dr. Crowley sees results in at least 70% of patients, particularly with neurogenic bladder.

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Vicki Finlayson has had a remarkable recovery from severe Multiple Sclerosis. I hope you will watch her interview here. It was recorded October 2008 at the Fourth Annual LDN Conference held for the first time on the West Coast at the University of Southern California, and is recounted below. Since then she has made it her mission to advocate for clinical trials of this medication but it has been difficult for patients to find doctors who will prescribe it.

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Has medicine come to the point where we no longer listen to patients, only to drug representatives that are only allowed by Congress and the FDA to discuss what has been fully approved with all its risks and benefits? Well….frankly, we are not always told all risks nor are they always discovered until years later. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist. It will block morphine and similar pain medication. In much higher doses it has been approved for safety by the FDA in 1984 as treatment for opiate addiction, and in 1995, FDA approved for treatment of alcohol dependence. Doctors have been reserved about prescribing it off label for patients who request low doses of naltrexone for medical conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis. But the tradition of using medication “off label” for uses not approved by FDA is still alive. Weighed against the dangers of the illness relative to a small dose of a medication that appears to be benign, it appears to be a worthy endeavor to test.

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How tragic is it to hear a person with Multiple Sclerosis have to define their day in the world by how far apart the bathrooms are when needed for neurogenic bladder? That is the story that urged one Scottish research doctor to pay attention when his patient said low dose naltrexone cured his neurogenic bladder. That changed that doctor’s research career. When years of fatigue and heat intolerance may soon be gone because of this small dose, how can a doctor turn down trying it for a patient? I did a few years ago, to my everlasting regret. I know better now. In my defense back then, I had not heard any information from that patient or anyone about its favorable off label use. It was a call from another doctor. I would like to think that if the patient had made an appointment with me or written to tell me a little about it, I would have said I’d read on the subject.

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Vicki’s Story

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Vicki Finlayson had Multiple Sclerosis for 12 years and was very disabled for several of those years with Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

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She tells how she was on Avonex for 6 years that caused flu-like symptoms so severe she was in bed for two days after each injection. She was so disabled her husband had to help her dry her hair. The medications used for Multiple Sclerosis caution about suicide risk and her husband hid knives at night for fear of what she would do to herself. She was unable to work, on medicare and social security disability. She missed the ability to work and says, “I lost so much dignity, I lost my sense of everything my parents ever taught me.”

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She detoxed herself off of opioid medication that had been prescribed for pain. Her doctors failed to help her do that. Apparently, she says, they had no experience with how to take her off those medications. And she began to take low dose naltrexone 4.5 mg. It took away all of her symptoms, including heat intolerance.

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She is delighted to be off of disability and back to work selling durable medical equipment to doctors. And she has been inspired since then to help others by raising money for research on use of low dose naltrexone for Multiple Sclerosis.

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Here is how she did it

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She walked 56 miles from her home in Auburn California to Sacramento in scorching hot 100 degree weather – without any heat intolerance that she had had for years before – to try to get the ear of the governor. She held fund raisers. And she got the attention of Dr. Bruce Cree of the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Clinic to do the first academic trial on use of low dose naltrexone in Multiple Sclerosis, research which apparently was funded by her efforts. She is indefatigeable in her effort to help others.

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Dr. Cree’s poster presentation on the positive research outcome is here along with other scholarly publications on naltrexone. The publication can be read here: “A rapid on-line publication of the first randomised controlled trial of low dose naltrexone in MS in the Annals of Neurology has been reported prior to hard copy publication. The study randomised 80 people with MS to receive LDN or placebo in a cross-over study where people took the LDN or placebo for eight weeks, then swapped to the other study drug. This appears to be the first drug trial in MS that was not funded by the pharmaceutical industry, but by the participants themselves.”

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He closes with: “In conclusion, in this exploratory, single center study, 8 weeks of treatment LDN was associated with symptomatic benefit with respect to mental health, pain and perceived cognitive deficits in MS. Confirmation of these findings in a multicenter trial will be necessary to make definite conclusions about the possible symptomatic benefit of LDN in MS. A longer duration of treatment is necessary to determine whether LDN has any benefit with respect to physical outcome measures.”

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Here is a link to more clinical trials on low dose naltrexone, and here is a

summary of the first European LDN conference in April 2009 at Glasgow University.

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Vicki is very realistic about the chance of this work being extended by any university, NIH or the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They rely on tens of millions of dollars to do the costly multi-center long term drug studies that must be done for this condition. That will not happen with a drug that is inexpensive, generic, and holds no promise from which any pharmaceutical company may ever hope to profit. Without such double blind studies, many, if not most doctors would be unlikely to prescribe this simple, inexpensive, low dose medication.

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Please see comments, below, that point to an excellent resource called LDNAware.org. “This website is your worldwide gateway to Low Dose Naltrexone information, resources and events.  LDN Aware is a volunteer group devoted entirely to spreading knowledge and raising public awareness about LDN as a treatment for autoimmune disease, cancer and HIV/AIDS.”

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Should LDN be used with other disease modifying drugs for Multiple Sclerosis?

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In my next post of May 16, 2010, an expert answers that question.


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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can

change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


– Margaret Mead

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and

is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

RSD – Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – A Case Report


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Rational Polypharmacy

Naltrexone is a remarkable drug for intractable pain

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I first saw this RN in June 2006.

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She is now 60 years old.  She was an OR scrub nurse for almost 30 years, but was disabled for the last 5 years before seeing me. She had Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy [RSD] of both legs with “arthritis” of the feet/ankle that felt like she was “90 years old” with cold allodynia. Allodynia is pain from a stimulus such as light touch or a breath or air that is not normally painful. Imagine a light touch that feels like severe nerve pain, one of the most disturbing pains a person could have. The temperature of her feet was 81 degrees, hands 92 degrees.

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Pain of both feet felt like a vise grip, gnawing, penetrating, “like broken bones in the feet,” variable at different times but always worse as the day progressed, with a crushing sensation that penetrated through foot and ankle. She was unable to tolerate socks or anything on her feet after 5 pm, unable even to tolerate air on the area, unable to tolerate coolness below waist, but felt hot above waist. She wore a blanket and covers on the hottest 120 degree days, and forced herself to tolerate touch at the legs in order to desensitize them, as we instruct patients to do. She felt constant tingling numbness of the soles of feet for 3 years, with weakness, stiffness “almost solid” like a block. Spasm in soles of feet had resolved the last 6 months before seeing me.

Pain ranged from 2 to 9 on a scale of 10, where 10 is the worst pain imaginable, worst after 5 pm. Average pain was 3. It interfered with sleep at times, and she used a tented frame to keep blankets off her feet, preheated the bed to avoid any coolness, and avoided cold under all circumstances. In the morning, the joints felt like she had a broken ankle. She would massage the feet with lotion, put on alpaca socks, and slowly begin to walk. Then tried to mobilize the joints. Walking made pain worse though walking had always been a favorite activity.~

Before seeing me she had had more than 10 sympathetic blocks, was hospitalized 11 days due to headache from prednisone 60 mg that had been trialed to relieve her pain. She had been prescribed Procardia to relieve the “vascular” disease that she did not have but the drug led to gangrene of the gall bladder; she had been prescribed almost every “adjuvant” used to relieve pain and as much as 9 grams of Neurontin daily, all of this to attempt to relieve the severe pain in her legs and feet.

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This is how she got better

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When I first saw her in 2006, I prescribed low dose oral ketamine that gave relief lasting up to 3 hours from each dose. She then requested referral to Dr. Schwartzman, chief of neurology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, for continuous 5 day ketamine infusion that was done May 2007. She was pain free but it completely lost effect after 8 months, despite booster infusions every 4 to 6 weeks for 4 hours daily over 2 days during those 8 months. After insurance the cost out of pocket was $45,000 in 2007 alone. Dr. Schwartzman had nothing more to offer after it failed and said most patients have relief for less than 6 months if at all.

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In March 2007, I started her on a combination of Namenda 55 mg daily with lamotrigine 350 mg daily that relieved 90% of the pain, but once every 6 to 8 weeks she needed 12.5 to 25 mg low dose oral ketamine for breakthrough pain. Even more rarely, she used oxycodone 10 to 20 mg.

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In October 2008, adding naltrexone 1 mg by mouth, she became pain free. Since then she has not needed anything for breakthrough pain and on 3/5/09, she reported that her last use of ketamine and oxycodone occurred with the addition of low dose naltrexone.

 

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In 2009, she hiked 30 miles down the Grand Canyon and back up in 3 days.

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Naltrexone was later increased to 4.5 mg as she completely tapered off lamotrigine.

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By December 2009, the RSD was 98% better and she reported that it was not pain anymore. Medications then were naltrexone 12.5 mg at bedtime and Namenda 55 mg daily in divided doses. She had just a “remnant” of a little buzz, but no crushing except when active, late in the day.

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A few months later she slowly tapered off Namenda with no increase in pain; and in October 2010, on my advice she tapered naltrexone 12.5 mg from daily to every third day. There has been no increase in pain but she is reluctant to discontinue naltrexone for fear that RSD may recur.

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She hikes 2 miles 3 to 4 times a week, does Iron Mountain once a week, does “Silver Sneekers” exercise 1 hour 3 times a week and sleeps well 8 to 10 hours a night without a sleeping pill.

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She remains on low dose naltrexone as her sole medication for this

previously disabling neuropathic pain syndrome~

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She has returned to part time work and spends a few weeks a month traveling the world, hiking, volunteering, sightseeing.

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Research funding is needed to view whether we can detect

activated glia in the spinal cord, as discussed here.

If there are no signs of activated glia, she may feel reassured that the condition has resolved.

Naltrexone is an immune modulator.

The site of action of naltrexone is at the Toll-like receptor (TLR4) attached to the cell surface membrane of glia.

The ability to view activated glia would help greatly in treatment of so many conditions including neuropathic pain.

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Naltrexone

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I have found that naltrexone is a remarkable medication for various pain conditions, and going through the steps of rational polypharmacy may be very rewarding for some patients though at times it may work all on its own. It has caused me to completely reassess how I approach the treatment of intractable pain – not just RSD or CRPS but arthritis, sciatica and various forms of mechanical pain. And it has led to further changes in the timing and dosing of naltrexone based upon the experiences patients have reported back to me over the years. It is hoped that further research will lead to better understanding of how naltrexone acts upon pain pathways. Surprisingly we already know quite a fair amount.

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My deepest gratitude to Dr. Jau-Shyong Hong, Chief of Neuropharmacology at NIH, whose many generous discussions, emails and research publications have helped me to understand it’s profound anti-inflammatory effect in the central nervous system through its actions on microglia. I previously posted a discussion of mechanisms of naltrexone and dextromethorphan in greater detail here. Naltrexone and dextromethorphan are classified as morphinans, morphine-like. They suppress Superoxide, a free radical that destroys neurons which may cause or contribute to Alzheimers and Parkinsons Disease. That research goes back to the late 1980’s and continues to grow. Phase II studies with morphinans are now being done on those conditions. Studies are also going on now with naltrexone/Wellbutrin combination for weight loss. The drug is called Contrave, from Orexigen Therapeutics Inc. and the dose I believe is 32 mg naltrexone – I do not know how they decided upon that dosage.

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In my experience, naltrexone is a very benign drug at these low doses, though colleagues who prescribe 400 mg for the FDA approved use at that high dose may see some liver toxicity. I always begin at 1 mg or 4.5 mg, depending upon whether or not the patient is a slow drug metabolizer, i.e. may lack one of the CYP P450 chromosomes for metabolizing drugs. I have long suspected it also has an effect on the hypothalamus because a few patients with profound postmenopausal hot flashes have reported that is no longer a problem and that their husbands simply cannot believe the bonus, and this may explain the effect upon appetite that Orexigen has found. At higher doses than I generally use there may be some constipation which is treatable. It may cause vivid dreaming in some, and a small percentage may have insomnia for a few days. Pharmacology and safety is discussed here.

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Stay tuned. I’ll be adding more case reports of different pain conditions in the near future. They are truly fascinating. It has changed my entire approach to treating pain.

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Cost

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Wouldn’t it be nice if NIH funded more for pain research? Imagine how much money that would save the country and save the lives of each person with disability who could recover? As I posted here, the American Pain Society has shown that NIH spends 0.67% of its budget on pain research – less than 1% – though 10 to 20% of the population in the US suffers from chronic pain, an estimated 60 million Americans, and pain conditions are more prevalent among the elderly.

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I am told by my pharmacist that perhaps 70% of the time insurance will approve coverage for compounded low dose naltrexone. It is very affordable but some insurance carriers deny payment for naltrexone. Medicare will not pay for compounded medication either. Compare this low cost compound to the wholesale price for 100 tablets of Oxycontin, $1300, which may not be relieving pain – then multiple that by 2 or 3 each month for one patient. Imagine if the $22 billion of federal money for health insurance technology, for software which is untested and will expire in a few years, instead went into NIH funding for pain research. What a lovely thought.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and

is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Anti-inflammatory salsalate helps poorly controlled diabetics lower blood sugar


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Anti-inflammatory medication — salsalate, from the aspirin family —

helped poorly controlled Type 2 diabetics lower their blood sugar substantially.

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Fasting blood sugar dropped from 150 to 110

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This is a very interesting report of studies being conducted on fat to unlock the mystery of why it triggers inflammation that leads to heart disease and diabetes. Some startling conclusions are arising from these multi-center studies and the news release nicely summarizes them.

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Although the article does not quote the journal referenced, it does discuss the research being done at Albert Einstein College of Medicine as well as the NIH funded study at 21 medical centers around the country that are now recruiting Type 2 diabetics.

You might find out if a center nearest you is recruiting and be sure to discuss salsalate with your treating doctor before you consider trying it.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and

is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Thi

Over the counter pain killers linked to hearing loss


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Analgesic Use and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Men

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Dr. Sharon G. Curhan of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and her colleagues studied 26,917 men aged 40-74 years at baseline in 1986 and every two years. These were men enrolled in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Regular use of analgesics was defined as 2+ times/week.

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Among all men who used aspirin at least twice a week, there was a 12% increased risk of hearing loss.
Among those who used ibuprofen and related analgesics, there was a 21% increase.
And for those who used acetaminophen, a 22% risk.

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But the risk was much higher when they considered only men younger than 50.

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In that group, there was a
33%  increased risk for aspirin use,
61% increase for ibuprofen and related NSAIDs, and
99% increase for acetaminophen.

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The younger the man and the more years used, the greater the risk of hearing loss.

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The study involved only male Caucasians, thus no conclusions can be drawn on risk of use for women and other racial groups.

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