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Medically reviewed by
Constance Tambakis Odom, MD graduated in 1987 with her Doctorate of Medicine from the New York Medical College, and was an Anesthesiologist Resident from 1988 to 1991 at the Brookdale Medical Center PGY II (CA-I)-PGY IV (CA-III). She is Board Certified by the American Board of Anesthesiology since 1998 and American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine since 2002. Constance Odom, MD is affiliated with the American Medical Association, American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, American Society of Anesthesiology, Georgia Society of Anesthesiology, Hellenic Medical Society of New York, North Carolina Society of Anesthesiology, and Society of Ambulatory Anesthesia.
Naltrexone is a prescription drug that has been used for a number of conditions. It has been found to be highly helpful to those suffering from alcoholism or opioid addiction. From there, there have been several other naltrexone uses discovered through trial and error. Once it was found to be helpful for those with drug and alcohol addictions, there have been multiple medical tests to see how well it works for a number of different conditions. Among these conditions is obesity. Testing has been done for low doses of this medication, and the future of naltrexone uses looks bright.
There are a number of different ways that naltrexone can contribute to weight loss. A mixture of all of these functions can lead to noticeable, statistically significant weight loss. It has been found to work better in certain patients than in others. It has proven to be a good weight loss method for patients with damaged metabolisms. Studies found that patients who used a low dose of this drug regularly lost as much as 7.5 pounds in two months. That's a substantially better weight loss than many people get with dieting. Combining dieting with a low dose of this drug is a way to maximize your weight loss and to keep it steady.
It isn't certain exactly how this drug helps people to lose weight, but there are several factors in the way it works that may be the reasons. The first theory is that it suppresses the appetite. Some patients who tried naltrexone did report that they were less hungry, and this was found to lower how much they ate while taking the drug. During one study, various amounts of naltrexone taken reduced the intake of food by 30% in the study's male participants.
Another theory is that the weight loss is caused by a decreased resistance to insulin. The research done on those taking naltrexone has shown that it can help lower levels of insulin by 40%. There is a strong link between obesity and a person's insulin levels. When there is more insulin resistance, it has been found to cause people to put on weight, and this is especially true for those with hypothyroidism. When the resistance to insulin is adjusted, it can lead to weight loss.
It is also possible that patients who are losing weight on naltrexone are benefiting from a boost of energy that they get while on the drug. When they get more energy, they are able to do more physical activity. This extra physical activity burns extra calories, and this can lead to patients losing pounds thanks to naltrexone.
It may also be getting more sleep that is helping patients to lose weight. When a person doesn't get enough sleep, this can result in inflammation that can cause a person to add body fat. Several studies have found this to be the case with patients of all types. With better sleep, the body won't put on as much fat, and it may actually help people to lose some.
Some of the research has shown that naltrexone can increase the level of growth hormones in some patients. When a person takes a low dose of the drug, it can help them to lose weight by stimulating growth hormones. When it does this, the body wants to put on lean muscle mass as well as maintain it, and all of these things raise how much fat is burned. More fat burned equals less weight for the patient.
Another way that naltrexone helps patients to lose weight is by increasing certain thyroid hormones. The total triiodothyronine (TT3) levels are increased with the use of naltrexone. The drug also helps the body to convert total thyroxine (TT4) into total triiodothyronine (TT3) for better weight management. Other naltrexone uses involve the immune system.
The drug has been found to make the immune system work better, helping some patients to reduce their autoantibodies when they had an autoimmune disease. Both of these benefits can help patients to lose weight, but both of them together can result in even more weight loss.
Even the side effects of naltrexone can help patients to lose weight. Common side effects of the drug include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea When these occur, the patients are less interested in eating, and this can help less food to be consumed. When these side effects happen often enough, it can help patients to lose weight. This isn't the primary use of naltrexone, but because it occurs in some patients, it can add to the weight loss enabled by the drug.
Not everyone is a good candidate for naltrexone uses, and some patients will benefit from it more than others. Anyone who does use it needs monitoring from a medical professional. The patients that may most benefit from this drug include people who have hormone imbalances like leptin and insulin resistance. It is also helpful in those who have disorders that make them gain weight and/or autoimmune disorders.
People who have hypothyroidism or sleep disorders may get a lot of benefits from naltrexone, as will those who have conditions that cause chronic pain. patients who have inflammatory conditions or slow metabolism rates can also expect many benefits from taking it. Patients who have strong appetites and have trouble regulating their food intake can also expect good results by lowering that appetite and reducing their weight.
A few further classifications have been found of patients who are most likely to lose weight by taking naltrexone. Women are more likely than men to lose weight with it. Binge-eaters are more likely than those who eat normally to benefit from naltrexone. People who are obese will lose more with it than will those of normal weight. People who have an unhealthy diet and live an inactive life are more likely to lose weight with it.
Most people do want to lose weight, but not all people will lose the same amount when taking naltrexone. There are several factors that play into just how much weight a patient will lose with it. One determining factor is the size of the body and its amount of fat and muscle. Taking a higher dose can often lead to more weight loss, depending on the body size of the patient.
How long a patient takes naltrexone also influences how much weight they will lose. Taking a low dose of naltrexone for only a few weeks won't lead to as much weight loss as taking it for the long term. However, there are some patients who report no weight loss at all from taking the drug. It's important for the medical professional to assess your body makeup, health history, and lifestyle when deciding whether you would be a good candidate for using this drug to lose weight. Even then, it is often considered a good drug to pair with healthy eating and getting more exercise to ensure that the patient will lose weight and get a boost from this drug. Adding it to a weight loss regimen can result in more weight being lost that would have been lost with diet alone.
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Nu Image Medical may not offer the medications or services mentioned in this article.