There is a prescription substance called low dose naltrexone, or LDN, which has helped some Graves’ patients significantly reduce their antibodies. Positive first person testimonies can be found on Graves’ and LDN chat groups throughout the internet, and there are a few medical journal studies on LDN that showed positive results in autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia. Low Dose Naltrexone and LDNScience are two websites with a great deal of information that one could share with their doctor.
Lately, the positive effects of LDN have come up on several thyroid forums. I cannot share any personal experiences with LDN since I myself have never tried it, but I have heard positive testimonies from several Graves’ patients who are using LDN as a treatment for Graves’ disease, and thought they should be shared.
Graves’ patient #1 feels much more stable since starting LDN treatment. In the past, her tapazole (anti-thyroid drug) dose was frequently adjusted up or down in response to life stressors, which seemed to trigger her Graves’; this left her with fluctuating, erratic thyroid levels where she sometimes felt hyper, yet at other times hypo. Later, a modified block and replace regimen of 5 mg. tapazole + 25 mcg levothyroxine left her with other hypo symptoms like high cholesterol, weight gain, rising glucose, and just feeling hypo, even though she had no TSH, and her FT4 and FT3 were mid-range.
After starting on a very small dose of LDN (1.12 mg, or ¼ of the typical 4.5 mg dose), her LDN dose was raised a month later to 2.25 mg., and feeling more hypo, her tapazole was slowly reduced until she now takes no tapazole and no levothyroxine either. After only 6 months on LDN, she now has measurable TSH, although it’s still on the low side. And while she still has other health issues she is working on, she feels the LDN treatment has stabilized her constantly fluctuating thyroid levels and has vastly improved her health. She has more energy, her thoughts are clearer, she’s lost 4 lbs, is handling stress better, and does not feel hyper.
Graves’ patient #2 (who takes the full 4.5 mg LDN dose in addition to low dose block and replace) reports better and deeper sleep, more energy, and noticed that her seasonal allergies and arthritic pain disappeared. She no longer needs Albuterol or Advair for her allergies. Her antibodies have come down since starting LDN treatment.
Graves’ patient #3 suffered debilitating muscle pain 24/7 that disappeared only 3 weeks after starting 1.5 mg LDN. She feels her immunity has improved since her entire family got sick this year and she didn’t, when she normally caught every bug going around. Her digestive system has also improved to the point that she recently had a slice of cheese pizza with no reaction, where previous to LDN treatment, she would feel sick to her stomach and have bloating, cramps, constipation, and nausea. Her skin is also much clearer today. She feels her mental clarity has improved and hopes to see further improvement with a higher LDN dose.
Is LDN treatment the cure for all autoimmune diseases? That is probably too much of a blanket statement, and some on the LDN internet forums have reported side effects. Some may not be Graves’ patients, but current theories are that a genetic MTHFR mutation is responsible for some cases of intolerance, while low IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor) is another cause. In any case, LDN is a prescription drug that must be obtained from a compounding pharmacy, so one must work closely with a doctor while following this protocol. I urge everyone who suffers from an autoimmune disease to do further research on LDN, to see if they might benefit from a trial dose.
My initial impression is that LDN treatment should be tried as a first option for someone with Graves’, given that all the other options are either difficult to manage, or can have serious, irreversible side effects. Anti-thyroid drugs (ATDs) like tapazole, methimazole, or propylthiouracil can be difficult to dose, because many with Graves’ have fluctuating thyroid levels, requiring frequent dose adjustments. But an increase in dose to offset a hyper episode may leave them hypo as soon as it settles down, requiring another adjustment. High doses of ATDs are not recommended because they can cause liver damage, so there is a limit to how much one can take. In difficult cases, LDN can be used in combination with the anti-thyroid drugs, and may even result in a lower dose of the ATD, which would be safer and less stressful to the body. A thyroidectomy cannot be undone, nor can radioactive iodine (RAI), and RAI has caused permanent, debilitating, lifelong side effects like TED (thyroid eye disease) in some, so really should not be a first choice of treatment.
If you are using LDN to treat Graves’ disease, please share your story, positive or negative, by leaving a comment.