LDN – a potential Game Changer for Colitis or Crohn’s Disease

The month of November has been observed across Canada as Crohn’s & Colitis Awareness Month and we want to do our part to raise awareness and educate the public about a new promising treatment option for Crohn’s and Colitis.

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) is a drug that can provide therapeutic benefits for many chronic conditions. LDN refers to a lower dose of the Canada Health-approved drug naltrexone – an opioid antagonist used to treat opioid addiction. Opioid antagonists have been shown to improve healing and tissue repair. LDN has both anti-inflammatory and immunological effects and is used by doctors to treat symptoms of inflammation throughout the body. 

Both Crohn’s disease and Colitis, being inflammatory diseases of the intestines, have responded well to LDN for many patients.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of conditions, the two main forms of which are Crohn's 

disease and ulcerative colitis.

Crohn’s is an incurable inflammatory condition of the digestive tract believed to be caused by an overactive immune system. Crohn’s and Colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt your body's ability to digest food, absorb nutrition, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner. These are lifelong diseases and people can experience acute periods of active symptoms (active disease or flare), and other times when their symptoms are absent (remission).

They can vary in severity of symptoms but usually causes diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, and weight loss. It can be an uncomfortable, painful condition and any improvement in symptoms can have a great impact on quality of life.

The exact cause of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis remains unknown, and as a result, there is no cure for these diseases. Causes and risk factors of Crohn's and colitis include genetics, the environment, and the microbiome.


LDN affects endorphin production, which are the body’s naturally occurring opioids that have a critical role in immune system regulation. The drug improves immune system functioning and reduces inflammation by increasing both endorphin production and utilization. The lower dose of naltrexone produces what is known as a “rebound effect” that is not present in higher doses. LDN increases endorphin production then leaves the body within a few hours, allowing the sensitized receptors to utilize the endorphins more efficiently.

Through the beneficial effects it has on endorphins, LDN is able to help reduce the inflammation of the intestines that is the main cause of Crohn’s symptoms. In one study on the effects of LDN treatment on Crohn’s disease, there was both an improvement in self-reported quality of life in 89% of patients and also a remission of symptoms in 67% of patients. Some other studies have shown less dramatic but still positive results. The safety of the medication in all cases has been well established and it is well tolerated by most patients.


Treatment plans for Crohn’s and Colitis diseases traditionally focus on medications for reducing the inflammatory response and dietary changes. Prescription treatments for include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids, and immunomodulators. Anti-inflammatory drugs called 5-aminosalicylates are sometimes used for Crohn’s but they can have side effects like nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Corticosteroids reduce inflammation but also can cause you to have a puffy face and increased facial hair as well as insomnia and night sweats. While these medications can help improve symptoms of the disease, LDN for Crohn’s/Colitis is unique in that it has almost no reported side effects and is safe for most patients.


Naltrexone is referred to as “LDN” when it is administered at a dose that is about 1/10th of the dosage used for opioid addiction. Dosages are often started lower then raised over time to be around 4.5mg taken daily. At this low dose, almost no side effects have been reported.  

The only way to obtain LDN is from a compounding pharmacy because the lower dose is considered “off-label” and it is not commercially available in Canada. Many prescription medications are used off-label as their safety and efficacy have been established by doctors from years of clinical use. At Dispensaries Ltd we have been compounding unique strengths and dosages of medications since 1995. 

Contact one of our locations and speak to our compounding pharmacist to learn more about Low Dose Naltrexone.

For more information on Crohn’s and Colitis visit : https://crohnsandcolitis.ca