The drug Naltrexone was originally approved in 1984 at the 50mg. dose for helping heroin and opium addicts. It works by blocking the reception of the opiod hormones beta-endorphin and metenkephalin in the cells of the the immune system. In 1985 Dr. Bernard Bihari, MD discovered that a much smaller does (3 mg.) when taken at bedtime produced a brief blockage of opiod receptors between 2 and 4 AM. This resulted in an increase in endorphin and enkephalin production which is beneficial to the immune system. Low Dose Naltrexone or LDN has shown to be effective in helping persons with HIV/AIDS, cancer, autoimmune diseases, multiple sclerosis, and central nervous system disorders including Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Syndromes.
Because Naltrexone is a generic drug that is without patent protection, no pharmeutical company will bear the expense of large clinical trials necessary for FDA approval of LDN however over the last few years there have been a growth in small studies of LDN for conditions including one for fibromyalgia by Stanford Medical School in 2009. In the study six out of ten participants felt significantly better than placebo reducing their symptoms of pain, fatigue, stress, sleep problems gastrointestinal complaints, and headaches. For more information on the study go to: http://snapl.stanford.edu/research/ldn.html . Similar results were replicated recently by a survey of fibromyalgia by the patient advocacy group "CureTogether" http://curetogether.com .
Low levels endorphins are generally persent in desases associated with immune deficiences. In this way this relatively safe drug can be helpful for a variety of conditions. The therapeutic dose of LDN is 1.5-4.5 mg. taken nightly. Larger doses block opoid receptors for too long a period of time to be effective. LDN needs to prescribed by a physician and prepared by a reliable compounding pharmacy. The drug is inexpensive - approximately $38 for one month's supply and has no known side effects except more vivid dreams.
Altough I am generally opposed to the treatment of CFS and FMS with pharmaceutical drugs, LDN falls into a different category. It is relatively safe, inexpensive and appears to have no bad effects. I personally know several persons who have benefited from taking LDN on a regular basis. Although not a cure it gives these individuals an important "edge" in their quality of life. This is a treatment that definetly is worth investigating. For more information go to: http://lowdosenaltrexone.org/