LDN and Rheumatoid Arthritis
Updated: Mar 3
In this blog post, we explore:
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
The links between Aging, Inflammation & RA
Treatments for RA (including LDN)
What people with Rheumatoid Arthritis are saying about LDN
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic auto-inflammatory and auto-immune condition characterized predominantly by joint pain and swelling. It occurs when the immune system attacks the joints. Although RA may develop at a young age, the incidence of RA increases with age (2). Between 20 and 80 years of age, the chances of developing RA go up more than 10x.
Both women and men are prone to Rheumatoid-related autoimmune diseases during their lifetime. In fact, 1 in 12 women and 1 in 20 men will develop inflammatory autoimmune rheumatic disease during their lifetime (1).
The Link Between Aging, Inflammation & Rheumatoid Arthritis
As we age, our cells have a harder time dividing and growing due to damage or lack of necessary components. This is called Cellular Senescence (one of the 9 Hallmarks of Aging). The cells within our immune system are no different. The process referred to as Immunosenescence occurs when our bodies experience three key themes: 1) a steady decline of T-Cells, 2) the shrinking of T-cells, and 3) a chronic low level of inflammation. These three changes in cellular composition and function can contribute to the development of Rheumatoid Arthritis (2).
While more recent research has linked Rheumatoid Arthritis to all 9 Hallmarks of Aging, it is most clearly associated with chronic inflammation (2). More information on this to come in future posts.
Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis
A website, CureTogether, published results of a 3-year study where over 1,000 people with Rheumatoid Arthritis have reported how effective they found various treatments.
Per the cited chart, Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) was ranked as the most effective, however, not very widely known (the higher the treatment shows up on the graph the more effective it was ranked).
As echoed by longevity experts worldwide, LDN is a generic drug. As such, no pharmaceutical company stands to make outsized profit from its sales, which explains why few are incentivized to educate doctors or the wider public about the benefits of LDN.
Inflammation, LDN & Rheumatoid Arthritis
As previously discussed, Rheumatoid Arthritis is most often associated with chronic inflammation—which increases exponentially with age as our cells lose the ability to divide, repair, and grow. Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) has been shown to lower chronic inflammation, which may aim to treat the source of the disease.
Cytokines are a broad group of signaling proteins that help module the functions of individual cells. As it relates to our immune system, our immune cells secrete inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α and some interleukins such as IL-1, and IL-6. These cytokines are particularly important when stimulating immune responses, such as inflammation. Elevated levels of these cytokines often indicate an inflammatory condition and are commonly elevated in those with Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Due to Rheumatoid Arthristis’s connection to chronic inflammation, Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) inhibitors are often an option for treatment; inhibitors of TNF include prescription medications such as adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), and infliximab (Remicade). These inhibitors can help to stop inflammation, however, they can come with some risky side effects. Other options for treating Rheumatoid Arthritis include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, however, these come with their own risk including increased heart and kidney disease risk, as well as stomach ulcers and bleeding.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a prescription medication that has been shown to safely lower proinflammatory cytokines (including TNF-a, IL-1 and IL-6) and also reduce chronic pain. As such, it makes for an effective treatment option for Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers—and fewer side effects of other treatment options. None of LDN’s side effects are thought to pose any long term health risks, and in fact may provide side-benefits.
Groundbreaking Norwegian LDN Study
In a fascinating study, researchers looked at Norwegian patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis prescribed LDN. Researchers found that those patients who took LDN long-term were able to reduce the amount of commonly prescribed non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (so-called DMARDs) by 15% (3). DMARDs (Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) make up a diverse group containing: methotrexate, antimalarials, and biological immunomodulating drugs, such as TNF-alpha antagonists.
Perhaps of greatest significance, Dr. Raknes, a prominent expert involved within this study, stated: “Patients with rheumatoid and seropositive arthritis that started continuous use of LDN reduced the use of disease modifying drugs and at the same time reduced their use of painkillers.”
To read the full interview with Dr. Raknes discussing the results of this study, click here.
What People with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are Saying About LDN
Curious to hear from real people? Check out what real patients with RA have to say about LDN:
To learn more about the science behind LDN, click here.
To request an LDN prescription, click here.
The Lifetime Risk of Adult-Onset Rheumatoid Arthritis and Other Inflammatory Autoimmune Rheumatic Diseases (LINK)
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Immunosenescence and the Hallmarks of Aging (LINK)
Low dose naltrexone: Effects on medication in rheumatoid and seropositive arthritis. A nationwide register-based controlled quasi-experimental before-after study (LINK)