Currently, there are few – if any – ways to treat patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Rather than treating the condition itself, doctors often treat symptoms using cognitive therapy, pain management, or even dietary changes. However, a research team from the Griffith University National Center for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases could be en route to develop another therapeutic option. In a Scimex media release, the researchers describe how low-dose Naltrexone could improve natural killer (NK) cell function, providing ME/CFS symptom relief. Interested in learning more? The full study findings were published in Frontiers in Immunology.
In the past, naltrexone has been used for a different purpose: treating patients with alcohol or opioid use disorders. However, Griffith University researchers repurposed the therapy. Within the study, researchers questioned whether naltrexone (LDN 3-5mg) could reduce ME/CFS symptoms. During their study, researchers determined that naltrexone treatment involved the TRPM3 calcium channel, which plays an important role in various cellular processes. Additional findings include that ME/CFS could be caused by dysfunction or dysregulation within these ion channels, as well as interactions with opioid receptors interrupting CA2+ signaling and cellular function.
Altogether, this is the first-ever study which highlights both the underlying cellular pathophysiology of ME/CFS as well as the therapeutic benefits of naltrexone treatment. Future research should focus on how this treatment could improve patient symptoms and quality of life (QOL).
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)
Currently, the cause of ME/CFS is unknown. However, doctors believe that this chronic and complicated disorder, which causes severe and unexplained fatigue, could result from viral infections, genetics, hormone imbalances, and immune issues. In patients with ME/CFS, their fatigue does not get better with rest, although it can worsen with exertion or activity. This long-term fatigue lasts at least 6 months or more and impairs daily living. ME/CFS often affects those between ages 30-50 and impacts females more than males. However, it can affect those of all ages and backgrounds. Symptoms include:
- Blurry vision
- Intense fatigue
- Difficulty with memory, thinking, and concentration
- Sleep problems
- Muscle and joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Sore throat
- Dizziness when standing or sitting up, as compared to laying down
- Low stamina and energy
- Inability to perform simple activities due to fatigue
- Bowel dysfunction
- Shortness of breath