All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for June 2004

Low Dose Naltrexone Update

May 2004
Allen Bowling, MD, PhD
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

We have received a number of inquiries about the use of low dose naltrexone as a treatment for multiple sclerosis. There are no published clinical data to support the use of naltrexone in MS.

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since the early 1990s for the treatment of addictions to opioids and alcohol. At significantly lower doses, it has been marketed on the Internet as a treatment for a variety of diseases, including various types of cancers, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), emphysema, as well as MS and other autoimmune diseases. There are, however, no published reports of placebo-controlled clinical trials demonstrating the safety and efficacy of naltrexone in any of these diseases. The marketing efforts rely entirely on anecdotal reports.

Naltrexone is said to work in MS and other diseases by adjusting the level of endorphins in the body to enhance immune function. Enhancement of the immune system, however, is not recommended for anyone with MS. Because MS is thought to be an autoimmune disease, in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the myelin in the central nervous system, the goal of currently approved treatments is to inhibit the overactive immune response rather than boost it.

People with MS are advised to avoid any medication, dietary supplement, or other treatment that is touted as strengthening the immune response.

Copyright © 2004, The National Multiple Sclerosis Society