low dose naltrexone in transdermal cream form

Repair Your Gut with Low-dose Naltrexone

Low dose Naltrexone

This post is about repairing your intestines with Low dose Naltrexone. This will help you to rebalance your immune system function and develop a healthy layer of gut mucosa. In the end it may help you better manage your Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

About the 5R Blog Posts

These posts are intended for those of you who have watched the documentary and are interested in building your personalized 5R Healing IBD Plan.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s the best place to start to understand what the framework is. In the movie you’ll see how other patients have used it to take control of their health.

The framework has a strategy to

  • Seal leaky gut
  • Heal gut damage
  • Cultivate gut microbiota diversity

In order to do that, you need to use a wide variety of tools that plug into the various components of the 5R Healing IBD Framework. There are 5 components and each one will be covered once per week:

Each week you will learn one specific tool that fits into that week’s component. Come back each week for a new tool and build your personalized 5R Healing IBD Plan.

If you don’t want to wait for more of these blog posts to trickle down to you weekly, you can get the Best of the Blogs Package, which includes an extensive document on the 5R Healing IBD Framework that goes into much more detail. After reading that, you will have a good idea of how to start building your personalized plan.

This Week’s Healing Tool

Here is this week’s tool for you to consider for your customized plan.

Repair: Low-dose Naltrexone

In the documentary, Dr. Cowan describes his Meadow Analogy, explaining that the gut is like a meadow. When you strip the gut of its healthy layer of microbiota due to antibiotics, diet, stress, and so on, you end up reducing a layer of mucus that protects the gut wall from invading pathogens.

Without the gut microbes and mucus layer, cracks form, aka leaky gut. Many patients with IBD have leaky gut. So here’s one way to repair leaky gut and promote healing of the gut mucosal layer.

In the forthcoming Documentary Bonus Content, you’ll hear Dr. Cowan talk about the use of Low-dose Naltrexone in IBD.

Low-dose Naltrexone is the use of Naltrexone in low doses to block endorphin receptors for a few hours, usually while sleeping. This causes a chain reaction in which the body produces extra endorphins to make up for the block.

This extra production of endorphins appears to be important in improving immune function and stimulating repair of the mucosa layer in the intestines [1].


LDN has been reported to help with:

  • Increased energy
  • Decrease in pain/diarrhea
  • Prevention of colds and the flu
  • Improved healing of the intestines confirmed via colonoscopy [1]

Low-dose naltrexone is used to boost the immune system by tricking the body to produce more endorphins. It has been shown to be effective in reducing inflammation in Crohn’s patients [2].

Laughter has been shown to release endorphins and increasing people’s pain tolerance [3].

I’ve always thought that laughter was like a massage for the intestines and interestingly, the article ends by saying that massage releases endorphins. This could be an interesting approach to IBDs, to use laughter, massage, and LDN to increase production of endorphins to reduce inflammation in the intestines.


It has a low risk and minimal side effect profile [4], which tend to be vivid/nightmarish dreams or if the person takes too much, feeling emotionally down because it’s blocking too much of their endorphins, the feel good hormone.


Because it is not patented by a pharmaceutical company, very cheap compared to the other conventional drug treatments.

Delivery and Dose

LDN can be taken in liquid, powder capsule, or transdermal cream. Typical doses are between 3 to 4.5 mg, taken once just before bedtime.

How to Get It

Because it is not FDA approved for treatment of IBD, nor is it backed by a large pharmaceutical company, gastroenterologists are highly skeptical or completely unaware of LDN.

It is not uncommon for patients to have to educate their gastroenterologists before obtaining a prescription. Failing that, patients may have better luck seeing a naturopathic doctor (ND), who tend to be more open minded in treatment options.

Patient Experiences

I have tried transdermal cream and capsule powder in doses ranging from 1 – 5 mg.

I have had better luck with the transdermal cream, I felt like I didn’t get any colds, despite poor sleep, and did not experience sleep disturbances.

With the powder capsules, I am battling back a cold that won’t fully develop nor go away completely, some nights my sleep is restless. I am still experimenting however. The best health improvement has been that my acne is controlled much better now. Something I have struggled to do since a teenager. I am absolutely thrilled at this unintended benefit.

Here are a couple Facebook LDN groups where you can ask patients using LDN about their experiences with it:



Check back next week for a info on a healing tool you can use for the Reinoculate component of the 5R Healing IBD Framework.

Stay colonized,

Reid B. Kimball

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3381945/ (2011 mucosal healing)
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3586944/ (2013 safe in children, may reduce disease activity)
[3] http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-laughter-may-be-the-best-pain-medicine/
[4] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3962576/ (2014 overview of LDN as anti-inflammatory, low-side effects)
[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17222320 (2007 safe in patients w Crohn’s)