How Naltrexone May Help People With Fibromyalgia

Naltrexone is a medication used for helping former narcotics who have stopped taking narcotics to remain drug free. People addicted to alcohol also take naltrexone to say alcohol free.

Although it’s used to stifle addiction, naltrexone isn’t a cure for addiction nor is the medication a narcotic. Naltrexone actually works to block the effects from narcotics, particularly the characteristic high people get after taking narcotics or drinking alcohol.

Naltrexone does cause withdrawal symptoms in people who have a physical dependence on narcotics. People generally start taking naltrexone when they’re no longer dependent on narcotics or alcohol.

This medication is prescribed to help people stop during narcotics and/or drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Naltrexone is historically helpful when used for an addiction treatment recovery program. It’s not used in other treatments for different conditions.

Though, that might be changing. Recent studies suggest naltrexone has some ‘benefit’ for people who may have fibromyalgia. In fact, sources are even going as far to say that naltrexone may help ‘ease fibromyalgia symptoms.’

Naltrexone and fibromyalgia: the study

The naltrexone fibromyalgia relationship started gaining traction within the past decade. Back in 2009, a Stanford University research report revealed that naltrexone might be a suitable treatment for people with fibromyalgia.

The study depicted tests on women who had fibromyalgia for over 10 years on average. The 10 women took a low dose of naltrexone throughout the duration of the study.

The women first spent two weeks recording the severity of the symptoms originating from their fibromyalgia. Their daily data was recorded using a handheld computer. They also took laboratory tests to test the threshold of their fibromyalgia pain, in addition to their sensitivities to cold and heat.

After the first phase of the test, the women took a placebo pill each day for another two weeks. The women weren’t informed that the pill they took was a placebo pill. After the end of that period, the women took a naltrexone pill once a day for a period of eight weeks. They spent the last two weeks of the study not taking either pill.

Throughout the duration of the study, the women continued to record their fibromyalgia symptoms each day. They also repeated lab tests every two weeks.

Low Dose Naltrexone for Fibromyalgia Treatment

Naltrexone and fibromyalgia: the results and effects

The results came in at the end of the Stanford study. Interestingly enough, most of the results showed that naltrexone did play a role in helping subside symptoms from fibromyalgia.

When the women took the placebo pill, they reported a ‘2.3 percent drop in severe fibromyalgia symptoms.’ Those results were compared against their rating taken at the beginning of the study.

After switching from the placebo pill to a naltrexone pill, the results got rather interesting. The women reported ‘another 30 percent drop in the severity of their fibromyalgia symptoms.’ They also found that they had developed a ‘greater tolerance for pain and hotter temperatures when taking naltrexone.’ They didn’t, however, develop a better tolerance for colder temperatures.

Out of the 10 women tested in the study, 6 women reported that they ‘responded to naltrexone.’ Any reported side effects were said to be ‘brief and mild.’ Though, when it came to milder side effects, two women reported having ‘increasingly vivid dreams’ during the study. Another woman reported having ‘nausea and insomnia’ during the first few nights of taking the pills.

The results gave Stanford researchers confidence that there’s a connection in using naltrexone to successfully treat fibromyalgia. Since then, other studies were performed to explore the naltrexone fibromyalgia relationship.

The naltrexone-fibromyalgia relationship: more evidence

The years following the aforementioned study saw more medical researchers reprise their role in the ongoing study of the naltrexone fibromyalgia relationship.

The continued study of that particular relationship is said to help researchers and doctors find ways to treat people who don’t respond well to other FDA approved medications.

Naltrexone is said to help treat naltrexone fibromyalgia through ‘boosting the endogenous endorphin function while suppressing the central pro-inflammatory cytokines. As a result, it causes an effect that helps decrease pain and other associated symptoms.

In 2013, the American College of Rheumatology presented a new study that followed 25 patients with fibromyalgia. Most of the patients (24) were women diagnosed with the condition.

The subjects of the study were given a low dose of naltrexone (3 mg, 4.5 mg maximum) every night throughout the study’s three month period. The outcome was measured using the Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR) during month 3, while any adverse reactions were also recorded throughout the trial.

Patients who were taking any FDA approved naltrexone fibromyalgia medications were allowed to keep taking their medications. That accounted for 18 out of the 25 patients in the study. The remaining patients (7) took naltrexone monotherapy throughout the duration of the study.

As a result, 22 patients successfully completed the entire study. Two people actually discontinued after finding naltrexone ineffective for treating their fibromyalgia. One person dropped out of the study after experiencing diarrhea as a symptom.

The remaining study participants improved their FIQR scores by 19.5 percent on average. Half of those participants had a stronger response, showing a 41 percent improvement on average. Many of the patients also reported a ‘decrease in pain, sleep problems and anxiety’ during the study.

Is naltrexone an effective fibromyalgia treatment?

Thanks to those results, it seems like medical researchers have solid evidence for the naltrexone fibromyalgia relationship. Naltrexone may be effective for treating fibromyalgia because it’s easy for patients to tolerate and relatively inexpensive. Even though these results show a positive future for naltrexone as an effective fibromyalgia treatment option, nothing’s entirely perfect.

Until medical researchers and doctors have concrete proof that naltrexone helps subside fibromyalgia symptoms, they can’t start appointing naltrexone as a suitable candidate for FDA approval.

The aforementioned naltrexone fibromyalgia studies only represent possibilities for what naltrexone can give people who have fibromyalgia. In order to successfully prove that the medication may help treat fibromyalgia, researchers and other medical professionals need to provide evidence for how naltrexone works in the context of suppressing common ‘addiction’ mechanisms invoked by the brain.

That way, they can see if it relates to how the brain influences fibromyalgia and finally discover if naltrexone works as a treatment.