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!

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