Rheumatoid Arthritis and Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory disease that can affect multiple joints in the body. RA is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system—which usually functions to protect us against infections—mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints. Rheumatoid Arthritis is most often associated with chronic inflammation. This inflammation in the joints causes pain, stiffness and swelling, and it increases with age as our cells lose the ability to divide, repair, and grow. If the inflammation continues, it can damage the joint.

 There is no cure for RA at this time. However, people diagnosed and treated early can avoid pain and damage to their joints and lead active and productive lives. 

Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) is being studied for various chronic conditions that affect inflammatory processes in the body, and it has been shown to lower chronic inflammation.  

Naltrexone is traditionally used to treat the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid and alcohol abuse. However, at a dose of about 1/10th of that used for managing addiction, naltrexone exhibits beneficial effects on the immune system and increases endorphin production. There are few side effects at these low doses, and most patients tolerate treatment well.

While the clinical research for this application is preliminary, patients are already finding that regular treatment with LDN improves their rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. One study found that people with RA who used LDN needed less medication to treat their condition, including commonly prescribed drugs such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) pain relievers.


The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis that can be improved with low-dose naltrexone include joint pain, joint swelling, fatigue, stiffness, etc.

The Side effects of LDN are few and not very common. They may include:

  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea (rare)
  • Headache (initial phase, if at all)
  • Increased thyroid sensitivity
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • When taking in the evening, Vivid dreams are most common and only last a few days.

Contact one of our locations and speak to our compounding pharmacist if you would like to learn more about Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) and its use in RA or other chronic inflammatory conditions.