Treating Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and Chronic Pain with Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

LDN pain relief

You may have heard of naltrexone as a medication to help people recover from drug dependence. It blocks receptors in the brain for the most addictive drugs, known as opioids. Naltrexone helps to reduce cravings and lowers the risk of relapse, without a negative impact on mood. Naltrexone is safe to use because it is not habit forming.

So what does this drug have to do with fatigue or fibromyalgia relief?

Very low doses of naltrexone have been found to be very helpful to people who are struggling to cope with chronic pain and fatigue, and fibromyalgia.

Low dose naltrexone, or LDN, enables many to find pain relief for symptoms without unwanted side effects. It requires a physician’s prescription. Typically it comes in tablet form that patients usually take at bedtime.

How LDN Works

LDN has been found to impact the production of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones. Doctors believe that this medication blocks the brain’s receptors for endorphins, and this stimulates the body to compensate and make more of them.

Endorphins are one of the body’s natural and most powerful anti-depressants and pain relievers. The brain and other parts of the nervous system naturally produce endorphins. Endorphins may boost the immune system, and are known to trigger positive moods and reduce the perception of pain.

Some medical professionals believe that fibromyalgia symptoms are linked to problems with the body’s stress response system controlled by the HPA axis. This part of the brain regulates the body’s response to stress and sensation of pain. The HPA axis is the complex interaction between the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and the adrenal glands.

The HPA axis also produces endorphins. When this area is not functioning properly, many medical professionals believe it throws the body’s hormone chemistry out of balance, and impairs the body’s pain regulation systems.

There is some controversy about how much the HPA axis and endorphins impact fibromyalgia pain. But evidence has made it clear that LDN helps many people who suffer fibromyalgia pain to find lasting relief.

Results of Treatments with LDN

In my practice, I see patients make remarkable improvement with LDN. Instead of having to rely on strong painkillers with undesirable side effects, patients find that low doses of naltrexone allow them to reduce or eliminate their use of other drugs. While a small amount of pain may still exist, it is mild when compared to the excruciating levels that people with fibromyalgia can suffer without effective treatment.

LDN allows many patients to sleep better, manage lower levels of pain much more easily, and feel more positive about life.

LDN therapy for fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue is not a simple cure. It is part of a treatment plan that you and your doctor create together. Treatment plans vary for each individual, and may include other changes that keep your symptoms in check.

At the Optimal Wellness Center, we find the best results combine therapies including acupuncture, hormone balancing treatments, and healthy life habits such as getting enough sleep, exercise, and choosing nutritious foods and supplements wisely.

If you are in the Ridgewood, New Jersey area , and want to see if LDN could work for you, speak to Dr. Keller at 201-485-7930 or request an appointment online.

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Fibromyalgia Survival Guide: 5 Keys to Making This Your Best Year Ever

Many people see a new year as a time to for new beginnings. People plan to lose weight, get active, and get healthier to enjoy more of what life has to offer.

If you have fibromyalgia, you probably want very much to make pain, stress, and fatigue a much smaller part of your life.  But you worry about how to reach these goals.  You want to eat better, sleep better, and feel happier – with less pain.  But you know that making changes your diet or your activity can lead to painful flare-ups.  Making lifestyle changes seems almost impossible when your muscles hurt, and you’re tired all the time, especially when you try something new.

Let’s pause right now and take an approach to fibromyalgia treatment that’s not based on big promises, but on smaller things you can do to feel a whole lot better despite fibromyalgia.

Instead of resolutions, let’s look at

5 keys to building a better life with fibromyalgia

  1. Setting specific goals
  2. Making small changes
  3. Learning what works
  4. Combining therapies and self- care that make you feel better
  5. Getting support to keep going

1) Setting specific goals

Since there are a number of therapies to try, we set a clear target, such as sleeping better, improving fitness, or reducing pain. First, every patient I see has a detailed, comprehensive set of medical tests and a physical exam. This helps us see where best to start. We may focus one or a few these areas to begin to make changes:

  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Medication
  • Sleep Quality
  • Emotional Health and State of Mind

Next, we look at how to start moving toward the health goals you’ve set in these areas.

2) Making small changes

What you eat has a lot to do with how you feel. This is especially true for people with fibromyalgia.  Eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet is a great place to start making modest changes.

Kale, for example, is one of the most nutrition-dense foods known.  Kale’s natural defenses against diseases, insects, and even sun damage also help our bodies heal when we eat it.  You can learn to choose similar healthy foods regularly by remembering they tend to be darker in color, such as grapes, red cabbage, strawberries and blueberries, green tea, walnuts, and tomatoes.

This approach isn’t about cutting out all carbs, eating just protein, or anything drastic. Finding out about anti-inflammatory foods, and planning meals with these – and eating less sugar, refined foods and meats – is one small but powerful change toward forming new eating habits that leave you feeling less pain, and more healthy.

3) Learning what works

Exercise, for example, has a lot to do with health, but you may feel like you’re in too much pain to work out.  If going to the gym doesn’t work for you – then let’s go somewhere else.  It helps to think of exercise as simply things you enjoy that get you moving.  Some patients find that a few 10-minute sessions a day work best.  The most helpful activities include smooth, no-impact or low-impact movements, and have a mind-calming element, like yoga, tai chi, or walking.

  • Acupuncture might not be a treatment you would have thought to try.  But studies and patient experience reveal several healing responses to this painless treatment.  Endorphins increase, and stress hormones decrease.  While it deserves its own discussion, the overall effects of acupuncture help improve sleep, reduce stress, and even relieve anxiety and depression.
  • Your state of mind has a lot to do with how you feel physically, with fibromyalgia.  Mental stress, physical tension and pain tend to trigger each other and can start a whole downward spiral.  A positive frame of mind helps all of us choose better foods, activities and rest periods especially when we have old negative habits to overcome.

4) Combining fibromyalgia treatments and self-care that make you feel better

Your doctor may prescribe pain medication and over-the-counter nutritional supplements.  By themselves, they may provide some relief, but not much, or not for long.  But when you start taking care of your diet, get moving, and get better sleep, your body’s own healing processes and your medications gain more power over your fibromyalgia symptoms, and you feel well for longer and longer periods.

5) Getting support to keep going 

Finding the right doctor is an important part of finding the right blend of therapies for long-term relief.   You need someone who understands the pain you describe is real, and who has experience observing the effects of different therapies, and can help you find a number of safe treatments you can use in combination.

Understanding friends, and support from others with fibromyalgia can help a lot too. Good friends can challenge the negative thoughts that we may jump to automatically.   Being around positive people can help us find more joy, peace and gratitude in every day life.

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to treat because doctors are not always familiar with how to diagnose it and treat it — and no one single treatment works.

Each person responds differently to therapies. Some medications work better than others.  Specific foods, forms of exercise, and techniques for getting better sleep work better for some people than others.  A successful treatment plans combines a number of approaches from different disciplines.

An integrative approach – which I practice at the Optimal Wellness Center – combines traditional medicine with complementary therapies – such as diet, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine, acupuncture, exercise and stress management.   It also combines the doctor’s efforts with your self-care efforts to find the most effective treatment for you.

About Dr. Keller

Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.  She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.

Acupuncture and Stress Relief Part 2: How acupuncture eases pain, improves mood, sleep, and body chemistry

We cannot eliminate stress from our live but we can learn to manage. That’s part of what we learned in Acupuncture and Stress Releif Part 1: How the Body Responds to Stress

Acupuncture is very effective in reducing stress and stress related conditions.

It is well documented that there is a strong connection between the mind and body. Clearly mental well-being is associated with physical well being. Acupuncture helps restore the imbalances of neurotransmitters and hormones brought on by chronic stress and thus help reduce stress and the harmful effects of chronic stress.

Acupuncture: How It Works

The modern scientific explanation is that needling stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the brain, spinal cord and muscles. These chemicals alter the experience of pain and also trigger the release of other chemicals, neurotransmitters, and hormones that influence the bodies own internal regulating system.

Acupuncture Decreases Cortisol and Other Stress-Related Hormones

Acupuncture is very effective in reducing stress and stress related conditions. It does this by modulating neurotransmitters and reducing stress hormones. Acupuncture needles stimulate the secretion of endorphins the body’s natural painkillers, as well as decrease cortisol – one of the major stress hormones.

In addition acupuncture increases serotonin, dopamine, and melatonin.  These neurotransmitters help reduce pain, elevate mood, relax the body, improve sleep and help with an increased feeling of over all well being. People feel extremely relaxed during and after acupuncture treatments. Post acupuncture treatments, patients feel completely relaxed and often report improved sleep.

Multiple acupuncture treatments appear to up regulate the secretion of neurotransmitter and hormones, which explains the long-term effects of acupuncture.   Acupuncture helps restore the imbalances of neurotransmitters and hormones brought on by chronic stress, and is a safe and effective way to treat stress and stress induced disorders.

What is Medical Acupuncture, and Who Can Provide It?

Acupuncture can be part of a doctor’s medical practice.  It is part of my practice at the Optimal Wellness Center, in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. Not all acupuncturists are doctors.   A licensed acupuncturist can provide services without being a health practitioner.

As a professional medical doctor, I use acupuncture because the most effective treatment for some people uses contemporary Western medicine  combined with complimentary techniques, including acupuncture. Sometimes the best treatment for difficult conditions, such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or weight loss, uses both acupuncture treatments and modern medical treatment. This is what integrative medicine is all about.

If you find that traditional medicine alone has not helped improve health for you, you may want to speak with a doctor who takes in integrative approach.

How to Stop the Pain: 7 Facts That People Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia should Know

When you are first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, you may feel overwhelmed.  All you can think of is you want to stop the pain.  That is your number one concern.  Then you learn that fibromyalgia is not like other illnesses – there is no one best treatment. You need to re-learn how to live within your body.

Here are 7 facts that can help you understand what is happening to your body, and how you can begin to find real effective ways to feel better, and live better.

  1. Fibromyalgia is not a disease that can be cured with medicine like an antibiotic, or with surgery.  But know that you can learn what works – from a qualified doctor, and with your own efforts – to give you a better quality of life.
  2. Research – and real life – shows us that when it comes to feeling better, the power to improve lies in part to your ability to take control of your self-care.
  3. Self-care means making a number of changes, rather than a having a single treatment. Lifestyle, medications, how you move during the day, exercise, adding therapies for your mind as well as your body – all are tools you can learn to use to manage your pain much more successfully.
  4. You may worry that the pain of fibromyalgia is from damage happening to your muscles and joints. This may make you concerned about what you can safely to do for treatment. But there is some good news.  Doctors have found that symptoms you are experiencing are caused by over-activation of nerves.  Fibromyalgia causes pain and stiffness in your joints, tendons and muscles, but it won’t damage them. Experts are increasingly looking at fibromyalgia as a nerve condition.
  5. Even if fibromyalgia does not directly damage muscles, it may affect the way you use them – or don’t use them.  The long-term pain may cause you become less active, and loss of strength may worsen your symptoms unless you find ways to stay active.  Explore movements, stretch breaks, walks and mild exercises to help reduce soreness.
  6. Sleep matters a lot when it comes to reducing your pain.  But how can you possibly get a good night’s sleep?  Studies show that it’s not just the pain – but the thoughts you think in your head have a lot to do with your ability to sleep.  You may not believe it now, but using therapies to help you drop negative thinking, calm your mind, and do activities you enjoy can improve sleep.  Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one way to find the mental energy you need to take good care of yourself
  7. The science of pain management has come a long way.  Prescriptions, over-the-counter medicine, and nutritional supplements can be part of your health care plan, but there is no magic pill for fibromyalgia.

It may take some time to feel confident in your ability to control your pain.  It is important not to suffer in silence.  If you are seeing a doctor who understands and specializes in fibromyalgia, talk about your experiences.  It may take be hard at first to have to open up to so many new approaches to wellness.  You may have to consider making some lifestyle changes you would rather not have to make.  But once you find a doctor with information you can work with to help yourself feel better, you can find a real a path to wellness.

If you enjoy this health tip please share it or print it for your use. It comes to you from Dr. Betty Keller, an integrative therapy and fibromyalgia specialist, practicing in Franklin Lakes New Jersey at the Optimal Wellness Center.

Ease Fibromyalgia Pain Naturally: 6 Quick Tips

What can you do to help ease the pain of fibromyalgia naturally?

The chronic pain of fibromyalgia affects about 1 in 50 Americans. Pain is the most distinguishing characteristic of fibromyalgia.   Certain triggers can make symptoms worse.  Lack of sleep, extreme cold or heat, mental stress, illness and certain types of physical activity.  Here are a few ideas to help reduce symptoms.

  1. Eat a healthy diet.  Studies show the best diet to follow is a Mediterranean diet.  Whole foods, fruits vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean protein, and omega 3 fats. Minimize eating processed foods.
  2. Make sure you get enough sleep. Try to get between 7 to 8 hours a night.
  3. Exercise. It is important to exercise when you have fibromyalgia. Make sure not to over exert yourself.
  4. Practice relaxation techniques, meditation, yoga, deep breathing, acupuncture These techniques can help reduce muscle tension.
  5. Be body aware.  Notice if you start to feel your muscles tense up, before the pain sets in try relaxation techniques to ease the aim before it becomes severe.
  6. Challenge automatic negative thoughts.  Out thoughts dictate our emotions and our emotions especially negative ones can cause headaches, muscle tension, pain and future. Choose thoughts that make you feel good. Thoughts that make you feel good, calm and relaxed.

Remember, to reduce fibromyalgia pain:

  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise daily
  • Reduce stress

Dr. Betty Keller specializes in the treatment of fibromyalgia and the New Jersey Optimal Wellness Center  She works with patients from New York City, Northern NJ and Bergen County NJ to lower reduce pain and promote health. Therapeutic approaches combine traditional medicine, dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and acupuncture.  Patients receive effective, personalized treatment plans to prevent chronic disease.  For an in-person consultation in her Franklin Lakes, NJ office, contact <strong>201-485-7930.</strong>