LDN and Hormesis

LDN and Hormesis

We’ve discussed in many
Updates, the great benefits
of taking LDN, not just
for Crohn’s, and Ulcerative
Colitis, but also for many
other Auto-Immune Diseases.

I’d like to share an excellent
and informative Podcast with
you of Dr. Mercola interviewing
Dr. Cowan on the efficacy,
usage, and benefits
of LDN, Low Dose Naltrexone.

“PODCAST: Low-Dose Naltrexone
and Dietary Changes for the
Treatment of Autoimmune Diseases”

To view to Podcast,
please click here.

Low-Dose Naltrexone and

Dietary Changes for the

Treatment of Autoimmune


– by Dr. Mercola


Herewith are some excerpts:


July 03, 2016 


By Dr. Mercola

“Most people are aware that
drugs are not an ideal solution
to their health problems, but
there are some exceptions
to this rule.

Dr. Thomas Cowan, a family
physician and founding board
member of the Weston A. Price
Foundation (WAPF), is a strong
proponent of using low-dose
naltrexone (LDN) for autoimmune

What Is Naltrexone?


Naltrexone is an opiate
antagonist, originally
developed in the early 1960’s
for the treatment of opioid
addiction (such as heroin),
which was prevalent at that
time. It blocks the effects of
the narcotic by attaching to
opioid receptors in your body.

“Naltrexone is a pure opiate
antagonist; meaning it has
no agonist. Agonist means
it has a positive effect. It has
no agonist effect. It has no
analgesic effect. There’s no
euphoria. There’s no high.
It simply blocks the opiates,”

Cowan explains. 

…However, the drug not only
blocks exogenous narcotic
opiates. Many drug users
refused to take naltrexone
because it made them feel
terrible, and this led to the
discovery of endorphins.

Endorphins are endogenous
opiates, meaning they’re
not introduced from the outside.
They’re naturally produced by
your body. This was why
people suffered dysphoria
(the opposite of euphoria)
when taking naltrexone, as
the drug blocked the natural
opioids (endorphins) as well.

The Discovery of Low-Dose Naltrexone and Its Benefits


Dr. Bernard Bihari1 began
taking an interest in naltrexone
in the late 1980’s, as many
of his addicted patients also
had immunological problems.
Many of them had AIDS,
which is a cell-mediated
immune collapse.

He observed that virtually
the only patients dying
from HIV infection were
those using opiates. He
wondered whether endogenous
opiates might have something
to do with immunological
function, which has since
been shown to be the case
in thousands of studies.

“He decided that maybe
these people with immunological
problems have endorphin deficiencies,” 
Cowan says.
“That led him to try to figure
out a way to stimulate endorphin production.

He [discovered that] if you
use a very low dose of
naltrexone, you block the
opiate receptors for maybe
an hour or so, and then
your body responds by
upregulating its synthesis of

You end up with a hundred
or a thousand times more
endorphins and a better-
functioning immune system.”

Essentially, when using a very
LOW dose, about one-tenth
of the dose you’d use for opioid
addiction, or less,
works like a form of hormesis,
which is when a compound
that is toxic at high doses
ends up having the converse
effect in small or minute doses.

“LDN is probably the only
pharmaceutical medicine
I routinely use,” 
Cowan says.
“I have seen more people
get better with that medicine
than any other medicine
I’ve ever used.

When you look at natural
medicine, for instance:
ginseng stimulates adrenal
cortical function. It doesn’t
actually do anything itself;
it just stimulates your adrenal
gland to make something.
That’s typically how natural
medicines work. That’s the
whole philosophy of homeopathy.

Similarly, even though it’s
not actually a ‘natural
medicine,’ LDN stimulates
endorphin production.
It doesn’t actually do
anything positive itself.
The patient has to respond.

If they don’t respond, you
don’t get an effect. If they
do respond and they make
more endorphins, like they
would have had with a
natural medicine, then
you get a positive effect
from a normal amount of
endorphin production.”

LDN Dosing Recommendations


The normal range for LDN
is between 1.5 and 4.5 mg
per day, taken about an hour
before bedtime (not in the morning).
There are a couple of reasons
for this timing.

First, since you’re blocking
endorphins, doing it in the
middle of the night prevents
you from noticing that you
feel lousy. Second, the
endorphin response is
greater at nighttime. As
for side effects,
LDN has
an enviable safety profile.
The most common side
effect is unusual and
sometimes more vivid dreams.

Cowan typically starts patients
out at 1.5 mg for two weeks.
Sensitive people, such as
those with thyroid problems,
may start as low as 1 mg per
day, but as a general rule,
doses lower than 1.5 mg/day
tend to be ineffective for most adults.

If there’s a positive effect, the
patient will stay on that dose.
If there’s no effect, the dose
is increased to 3 mg per day.
If there’s a negative effect,
the dose is decreased.

If there’s a positive effect at 3 mg,
stay on that dose. If there’s still
no effect, raise it to 4.5 mg,
and if there’s a negative effect,
decrease the dose. That said,
the key to LDN is the low dose.
So many times you may actually
need to lower the dose if you
don’t notice a beneficial effect.

“If you gave somebody 2.5 mg
and it didn’t work, lower the
dose. You gave him 1.5 mg
and it didn’t work, give it
every other day,” 
. “Because the principle
is it’s the rebound that’s the
positive effect, not the drug.
With normal drugs, if it
doesn’t work you give more,
but here, it’s the opposite.”

Opiates Are Potent Immunosuppressive Drugs



…According to Cowan, you see
a similar pattern in
patients. As soon as they
start taking opiates for
chronic pain, their health
rapidly declines as their
immune system falters.

“Opiates are highly
immunosuppressive medicines,

he explains. “What I mean
by opiates is exogenous
opiates; opiates from the
outside. Bihari saw that.
He saw that the people
that were getting AIDS
were opiate addicts.
And not just that, but that
was a certain subset.

Since endorphins are
essentially the flipside
of exogenous opiates,
meaning endogenous
opiates, what you’re doing
is substituting the good
guys for the bad guys.

… In the late ’90s, I had a
very good friend who was
diagnosed with terminal
lymphoma. He actually
knew Bihari. Bihari put
him on 4.5 mg of LDN.
He did IV vitamin C, and
he went into remission.
I went to Hawaii on
vacation with them about
three years ago.
That’s something like 15
years later. That was a
situation that got my
attention big time.”

Cowan’s Autoimmune Diet


Aside from opiate drugs
like heroin and prescription
painkillers, your diet can be
a source of exogenous
Many natural
health physicians recommend
removing wheat and dairy
from the diet, as these foods
tend to trigger complications
in a large number of people.

What many don’t realize is
that part of the problem
stems from the fact that
gluteomorphins (from gluten)
and caseomorphins (from casein)
act as exogenous opioids.

“Basically, when you’re
doing this diet … you’re
getting rid of exogenous
opiates. It’s really about
getting rid of exogenous
opiates (the ones that
downregulate and cause
dysfunction of your
immune system) and
then upregulating the
endogenous or healthy
Cowan says.

Virtually anyone suffering
with an autoimmune problem,
be it multiple sclerosis (MS),
inflammatory bowel disease
(IBD), or Hashimoto’s
(autoimmune thyroid disease),
just to name a few, would
be wise to try a gluten-
and dairy-free diet to
help optimize immune
function. (Grass-fed ghee
can be used, as it’s very
low in casein.) 

In Cowan’s experience, and
he’s prescribed LDN for at
least 1,000 patients,

the autoimmune diet or
LDN alone are typically
not nearly as effective
as the two combined.

Besides avoiding or
eliminating gluten and
dairy, his dietary
recommendations are
very similar to the Gut
and Psychology Syndrome
(GAPS) Diet

“It’s basically getting rid
of the exogenous opiates
and repairing the gut
flora [with] fermented foods,” 

Cowan says
. “The
Cowan Autoimmune
Diet is animal foods that
are low to modest in
protein; seeds, but no
grains for a while, and
a diversity of vegetables
and fermented foods.”

Consider Eating a Wider Variety of Vegetables


Fresh vegetables, which
are high in fiber, also help
heal your gut by nourishing
healthy microbes. Some
bacteria also create
short-chain fatty acids
from the fiber, which
are important for your health.
One key is variety and diversity.

Most Americans eat perhaps
a dozen different kinds of
vegetables in any given year,
whereas our ancestors ate
hundreds of different varieties.

Part of the problem is that most
people only have access
to seasonal vegetables
sold in the grocery store.

To amend this situation,
Cowan grows his own. He
has a large garden with
about 60 different vegetable
varieties, some of which
are perennial, such as tree
collards (collard greens that
grow on trees).

“They’re sort of deep green,
deep purple vegetables.
They live for about 12 to
15 years and withstand
even down to about 10
degrees Fahrenheit.
They’ll withstand frost.

There’s the perennial chard,
which is the genetic precursor
of beets and Swiss chard.
There’s Ashitaba. There’s
Gynura, which is Okinawa
spinach. That’s the spinach
that is supposedly reputed
to be why the Okinawans
live so long. It has a
chemical in it that has
an effect similar to metformin.
It’s an anti-diabetic, essentially
nutrient-rich food.”

I believe anyone fully
committed to health will
inevitably and invariably
come to the conclusion
that they have to grow
their own food, and pay
attention to the soil quality.
Aside from being hard to
find commercially, perennial
vegetables have the
distinct advantage of growing
and producing year-round.

“I recently read a statistic
from the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA):
People who eat three
to four different parts
of the plant per day —
we’re talking about the
root part, the leaf part,
and the flower or fruit
part; those are fundamental
parts — have 40 percent
less chronic disease than
people who don’t do that.
I believe that.

We don’t need vegetables
for calories, fats and proteins.
That’s the role of the other
foods in the diet. We eat them
for phytonutrients, fiber to
feed the microbiome,
vitamins, minerals, things
known and unknown.

Therefore, to eat a huge
bowl of Romaine lettuce
is sort of a waste of
vegetable power. You want
to have a salad with as
many colors as you can
get, as many parts of the
plant as you can get,
as much diversity as you
can get. That’s the role
of vegetables in the
traditional diet,”
 Cowan says.  

“I would absolutely
encourage everybody
to grow their own
vegetables. [My book even
contains] the science of
when vegetables are
the most nutritious.

For example, zucchini
should be eaten within
a couple of hours after
picking it, because the
sugars degrade and the
nutrients degrade, whereas
lettuce actually likes it to
be injured a little bit and t
hen sit around for about
12 hours, so it actually
makes more reactive
chemicals to essentially
heal itself. It’s better eaten
after about 12 hours.”

More Information


In Cowan’s experience,
LDN can be an incredibly
valuable healing aid.
Many suffering with
autoimmune diseases like
MS, ulcerative colitis,
Crohn’s disease, pemphigus,
or Graves’ disease, for example,
have been able to significantly
improve or go into remission
by incorporating LDN and
changing their diet to avoid
exogenous opioids found
in wheat and dairy, and
improving their gut health
and nutrition with fermented
and fresh vegetables

Good resources where
you can learn more about
LDN and find doctors who use it include LowDoseNaltrexone.org
and LDNScience.org. Linda
Elsegood’s book,
The LDN Book: How a Little-
Known Generic Drug Low
Dose Naltrexone Could
Revolutionize Treatment
for Autoimmune Diseases,
Cancer, Autism, Depression,
and More” is another great

To learn more about
growing and eating
vegetables, pick up a
copy of Cowan’s new book,
How (& Why) to Eat More

You can also find more
information on his website, drcowansgarden.com.


To read Dr. Mercola’s Article, Click here

My Comments:

I’ve been an avid believer
and promoter of the basic info
contained in this Podcast;
I’ve always advocated for
an anti-inflammatory diet,
The Anti-Inflammatory
Food Combining
and I’ve discussed at
length the benefits of LDN.

Please visit these pages for more info:





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