This prescription drug is used off-label in low doses to treat people with cancer, with notable but very preliminary successes in cases where the cancers were difficult-to-treat or quite advanced.

How do experts use low-dose naltrexone?

Both medical groups and integrative experts provide recommendations for this therapy in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations.

Published protocols, programs, and approaches

LDN is used in programs, approaches, and protocolsa package of therapies combining and preferably integrating various therapies and practices into a cohesive design for care from these integrative oncologists, drawing from both scientific research and observations from years or even decades of treating people with cancer.

Keith Block, MD

Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Care. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

The integrative Block Program has recommendations to people who are at different places along the cancer continuum:

  • Those who’ve been recently diagnosed
  • Those in treatment
  • Those who’ve concluded treatment and need to remain vigilant to prevent recurrence

Use of low-dose naltrexone to control growth when other treatment isn’t working

Linda Elsegood

Elsegood L. Ed. The LDN Book. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. 2016.

Neil McKinney, BSc, ND

McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, Fourth Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2020.

This book includes descriptions and uses of many natural and complementary protocols for cancer in general and for specific cancers. It also includes information on integrative support during conventional cancer treatment.

Uses of low-dose naltrexone:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Brain/nerve cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Gallbladder cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Melanoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Skin cancer
  • Stomach cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Vulvar cancer
  • Relief from myalgia due to drugs such as aromatase inhibitors

Used in the Bastyr University Integrative Oncology Research Center protocol for stage 4 breast cancer1McKinney N. Naturopathic Oncology, 3rd Edition. Victoria, BC, Canada: Liaison Press. 2016. p. 316.

Gurdev Parmar, ND, FABNO, and Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO

Parmar G, Kaczor T. Textbook of Naturopathic Oncology: A Desktop Guide of Integrative Cancer Care. 1st edition. Medicatrix Holdings Ltd. 2020.

This book provides information on the treatment of 24 cancers, plus the most effective treatments of the most common symptoms affecting cancer patients while they undergo chemotherapy, radiotherapy, or surgery.

Uses of low-dose naltrexone:

  • Hodgkin’s and non Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer

Dosing

Dosage has not been standardized for use in cancer care, but recommendations are available from these sources.

General information about dosing

Find general dosing guidelines regarding natural products and supplements.

Expert commentary

In Life Over Cancer, integrative physician and CancerChoices advisor Keith Block, MD, suggests LDN as an off-label drug that could be particularly valuable during the growth-control phase of cancer “by activating Th1 cancer-fighting immune cells and apoptosis of cancer cells while binding opiate receptors that can stimulate cell replication.”2Block KI. Life over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment. New York: Bantam Dell. 2009.

Dan Rubin, ND, April 21, 2022: To my knowledge and experience hyperthyroidism only arises in people that are on thyroid replacement therapy for autoimmune thyroid disease which may reverse in part or in whole because of the use of naltrexone. This means that if and when naltrexone use corrects the thyroid malady, the dose of prescription thyroid will need to be monitored by the physician.

CancerChoices advisor Brian Bouch, MD, discusses the history and use of low-dose naltrexone for cancer care.

Keep reading about low-dose naltrexone

Authors

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Reviewers

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO

Naturopathic oncologist
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Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO, is a board certified naturopathic oncologist practicing in both Scottsdale and Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rubin is the founding president of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OncANP) and has been a long-time member of the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board. He is the co-founder of Naturopathic Specialists, LLC, with his wife, Debi Smolinski, ND. Dr. Rubin focuses on naturopathic and integrative approaches to people with cancer, treating both children and adults. He enjoys trail running in the Sonoran desert near his house.

Dan Rubin, ND, FABNO Naturopathic oncologist

Last update: May 20, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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