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From the Townsend Letter
June 2016

The 5th Annual Low-Dose Naltrexone Conference: A Review
by Emily Kane, ND
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Day 2 started with a presentation of LDN for MS by Dr. Jarred Younger, "Calming the Microglia: A Future Method for Treating MS." Well, the future is here and a 2015 chart review of 215 MS patients using 3.5 mg LDN daily, for average duration of 804 days, showed 60% improvement in fatigue, 60% improvement in overall disease severity, and with minimal side effects. Early treatment is key. Another presenter, Dr. Patrick Crowley, who has treated over 150 MS patients with only LDN (no other therapy), states that LDN is more effective than interferon. The pathophysiology of MS is demyelination due to deficits in microglial and oligodendrocyte function, triggered by many potential pathogens including hydrocarbon or heavy metal exposure, obesity, microbial infection, and so on, all of which cause inflammatory chemicals such as NO to be overexpressed. These noxious chemicals make their way through the lymphatic system deep into the body, creating "autoreactive" T cells. Ultimately these antigenic T cells leak into the brain and attack axons, leading to relentless neuroinflammation. We have many anti-inflammatory remedies, but most do not cross the blood–brain barrier. LDN does. LDN reduces the inflammatory response to toxic T cells in the CNS. It is best used immediately after the first MS "attack," because then it has potential to put the patient into permanent remission. Younger is raising funds to create an MS/LDN trial. He's looking at a medium-sized pilot trial with about 60 patients; his budget is around $300,000. He is hoping that this will stimulate interest in a more comprehensive 4-year trial that can include labs and radiologic follow-up; this would cost $2 to $3 million. Any interested researcher or donor may contact him at
Day 3 began and ended with spectacular information on autism spectrum disorder. Lecturer Brian Udell, MD, has had other subspecialties during his medical career but asserts that the autism spectrum population has more savants than any other patient population he has worked with. After the lectures wrapped up, we were treated to a 20-minute virtuosic piano recital by one of Udell's young patients, age 10, who is clearly a musical genius. Udell started working with Jacob Velazquez when the boy was 4. His parents brought him in due to extremely violent and aggressive behavior that crescendoed after the birth of his sister, who also is autistic and much improved on LDN. Check out Jacob's many inspiring piano concerts available on
I asked Udell in the lobby after the concert if he speculated on why autistic people were more likely to display creative or mathematical genius. He shared a theory given to him by a colleague, which is that for some reason, during embryological development, the brains of autistic children do not "self-prune" and they ultimately have access to a lot more information. I was not familiar with neural pruning in utero, but it makes sense that as we develop, we respond to stimuli, noxious or beneficial, and grow new cells accordingly. The multitude of noxious stimuli in our environment today (gluten, GMO soy, Roundup, endless plastic) is undoubtedly why autism is so much more prevalent. It's not only the mercury in the vaccines – mercury, fortunately, has largely been removed from children's vaccines. In opening his lecture, Udell quipped that this week he got 6 or 7 bulletins about Zika virus, which has maybe 2 cases in Florida, whereas 1 in 4 boys are now being born autistic. Autism is the pandemic, not Zika!
Conventional medicine uses heavy-duty drugs designed for adults on toddlers with brain problems. This is overkill and inappropriate. In 2006 Dr. Jaquelyn McCandless developed a protocol for administering topical LDN at 9 p.m. when the child is asleep. Udell has used this protocol very successfully in hundreds of cases.
The Physicians' Desk Reference actually lists LDN (along with Abilify and Risperdal, speedy antipsychotics which cause eating disorders, diabetes, and tics, and antiseizure meds Trileptal or Depakote) for treating autism. Most pediatricians prescribe stimulants (methamphetamine) for autistic people. Since amphetamines retard growth, they really should not be given before age 8, not to speak of their high addictive potential. Straterra never works, says Udell. He sees lots of children on Zoloft and Prozac and claims that these are horrible approaches – the kids are stoned out their minds, drooling.
The key defining features in autism spectrum are speech apraxia and disruptive behavior. A child with a low IQ probably is not autistic. Most truly autistic children have higher IQ. Autistic children do not have OCD. OCD is washing your hands over and over or counting cracks in the sidewalk. All autistic children have GI problems – abnormal flora, including yeast. You can fix the gut. This is more effective than trying to put a big drug Band-Aid over repetitive behavior. Autistic kids are strong (climb walls) but have low tone (can't do pull-ups or pedal big wheels). They don't make eye contact. Check Udell's weekly blog:
Autistic children can't communicate properly. The voicebox doesn't work normally, depriving them of the most fundamental form of communication. The most upstream problem linking these gut, immune, skin, CNS, and metabolic issues is genetics. Udell asserts that genetic mutation is the major cause of autism: it's a combination of genetic susceptibility plus a toxic environment. He says that the DSM criteria are not helpful for autism spectrum. They were developed in the 1940s by someone who thought that psychiatric issues were caused by emotionally distant mothers. DSM parameters are not helpful when sorting out therapies for autism.
Check food allergies. High IgG represents inflammation. 10% to 15% of autistic children have very low cholesterol. The conduction system in the brain (Schwann cells) requires cholesterol. Raising lipid profiles can restore eye contact.
The most difficult children have the aggressive, self-injurious behaviors. The beta-endorphin aspect of LDN mostly helps with these. LDN does not work so well for speech apraxia, but it immensely helps immune vulnerability. Parents will say, "Since starting LDN, he isn't sick all the time anymore." Udell says that once various parameters of the autism spectrum are addressed, prodigies can emerge. He has a high level of extremely talented musical, artistic, and creative children in his autistic population.
During the conference, many of the LDN prescribers mentioned being shunned or derided by certain colleagues. You have to be brave to be on the frontier. One approach is to ask your skeptical colleague, "Do you really just want to use steroids again?" And then of course refer them to

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1.     Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) fact sheet 2015 [Web page]. LDN Research Trust.
2.     LDN (low-dose naltrexone) conversation with Drs Carnahan and Vasquez with application for multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome. International College of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine [online video interview].!blank/ezga0.
3.     Elsegood L. The LDN Book: How a Little-Known Generic Drug (Low Dose Naltrexone) Could Revolutionize Treatment for Autoimmune Diseases, Cancer, Autism, Depression, and More. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing; 2016.

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