Could low dose naltrexone help irritable bowel syndrome patients find relief? Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a debilitating condition that sends people running for the bathroom, literally. It causes an array of gastrointestinal distress. Sufferers may deal with sudden bouts of diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s also excruciating.
Doctors prescribe an assortment of pills to mask the symptoms. However, these drugs only last for a short time. In most instances, IBS comes back with a vengeance. But there may be a new treatment option on the horizon—low dose naltrexone (LDN), a drug once only used to treat opioid addiction.
Who Gets IBS?
IBS can strike anyone at any time. It’s the most common gastrointestinal disorder, affecting 10-15% of people in the US. More women get IBS than men. Other risk factors include family history, anxiety, and food intolerances. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some are life-altering.
Why Low Dose Naltrexone?
While doctors don’t know the precise cause of IBS, they all agree that inflammation plays a role. Experts believe an overactive immune system attacks the body, resulting in the embarrassing symptoms of IBS. Traditionally, doctors prescribe drugs to suppress the immune system and prevent flairs. But these medications come with many dangerous side effects.
LDN is a drug with a long, proven track record. And today, some doctors prescribe it off-label to treat a variety of autoimmune disorders. Here’s how it works in IBS patients:
- T-Cell modulation: LDN decreases inflammatory T-cells, such as Th1 and Th17. This makes room for less inflammatory cells to take over.
- Opioid growth factor receptor (OGFR) blockage: LDN blocks OGFR, which increases endorphins. These hormones attach to immune cells and help to reduce inflammation.
- Colon repair: Low dose naltrexone promotes wound repair, especially in the colon.
Unlike other IBS treatments, LDN doesn’t suppress the immune system. Rather, it supports it. And it’s also much cheaper than other alternatives.
An Experimental Treatment?
Although LDN has been around for decades, it’s not FDA-approved to treat irritable bowel syndrome. But there are several clinical trials in the works for both IBS and Crohn’s disease. And with promising results, it will most likely become a go-to drug for sufferers. Until then, patients must find a doctor to prescribe it off-label and a compounding pharmacy to fill the prescription.
A Compounding Pharmacy You Can Trust
Not all medications are one-size-fits-all. And when a doctor orders a medicine off-label, you need a compounding pharmacy with a long, proven track record. As a family-owned pharmacy, Towne Lake Family Pharmacy strives to make every patient feel at ease. LDN is one of the many drugs we compound. We’ll work with your medical provider to ensure you get the correct dose to help ease your IBS symptoms.
Is LDN the right treatment for you? Contact us directly to speak with our pharmacist about irritable bowel syndrome and low dose naltrexone.