Could low-dose naltrexone help Lyme disease patients?

Lyme disease patients presenting with an erythema migrans rash have been found to have elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines. According to Aucott and colleagues, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, these levels can remain high in patients even after three weeks of antibiotics. [1]


by Daniel J. Cameron, MD MPH

Now, a new study explores the effects of low-dose naltrexone (LDN) on cytokines in patients with fibromyalgia. The 10-week, single-blind pilot trial conducted by Parkitny and colleagues, from the University of Alabama, examined whether LDN was associated with reduced markers of inflammation in a small group of women with fibromyalgia. [2]

The authors found that after eight weeks of administering LDN, plasma levels of a range of broadly pro-inflammatory cytokines were decreased in patients with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). LDN is currently being used off-label for patients who fail to respond to medications approved for the illness. “One medication that has been used off-label for the treatment of [fibromyalgia] is naltrexone hydrochloride,” explains Parkitny. “When used in low doses, this medication is often called low-dose naltrexone (LDN).” [2] Study finds 8 weeks of low-dose naltrexone reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines in fibromyalgia patients. Click To Tweet

Study participants self-administered a 4.5 mg dose of LDN at least one hour before bedtime. If individuals experienced unpleasant adverse effects, the dose was lowered to 3.0 mg. None of the subjects dropped out of the study due to side effects. But, “one individual reported an acute exacerbation of pre-existing anxiety and one individual reported an exacerbation of pre-existing, non-specific gastrointestinal issues,” according to the authors. “Both of these side effects were judged as unlikely to be associated with the administration of LDN.” [2]

Individuals reported less pain and fewer symptoms following LDN with a “significant reduction of FMS-associated pain (15%) and a reduction in overall symptoms (18%).”

The authors conclude that LDN might help chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia, “by acting as an atypical anti-inflammatory medication.” [2]



  1. Aucott JN, Soloski MJ, Rebman AW, et al. CCL19 as a Chemokine Risk Factor for Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome: A Prospective Clinical Cohort Study. Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2016.
  2. Parkitny L, Younger J. Reduced Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines after Eight Weeks of Low-Dose Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia. Biomedicines. 2017;5(2).

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Here’s a thought: “fibromyalgia” is not a thing. It is a disease without even a hypothesized cause. It is a hodgepodge of symptoms that almost completely overlap with those known to be caused by actual infectious diseases like borreliosis, bartonellosis, ehrlichiosis, and others. How many “fibromyalgia” patients are referred to neurologists, who know less than nothing about Lyme disease and coinfections, and never even are directed to have a blood test for Lyme and coinfections?


So you copied a study on Fibromyalgia and didn’t even comment as to your thoughts on why or how this may help Lyme? This is a cheap post.


does reducing the cytokine response enable the infection?
Anti-cytokine therapeutics and infections

Remmel Henry
Remmel Henry

I have been hearing about low dose Naltrexone for relief of pain for patients with various pain syndromes, and a very good consideration for aiding fibromyalgia patients for over 5-10 years, since Dr. Ben Bihari talked about this for years after noting it’s usefulness in low doses. Dr. Bihari found that ONLY the LOW Dose Naltrexone was beneficial for these types of patients, and NOT the 50 mg used for drug addicts in its original aide for those kind of patients. My wife has suffered pain for many years due to back problems, and osteoporosis, or osteorheumatoid inflammation causing significant… Read more »