Minimizing Cancer Pain with Naltrexone


One of the most common concerns we hear voiced by potential patients is that they do not want to feel pain; it is a common misconception that alternative cancer treatments do not integrate the same or similar pain management techniques used by traditional hospitals. This could not be further from the truth, especially at CMN.  Part of what makes us an alternative treatment hospital is that all of our treatments, actions, and interactions revolve around multi-dimensional compassionate care. Pain management is our priority, and we go to great lengths to assure that our methods are top of the line and cutting edge. At CMN, pain free is the way to be, and this is why, when appropriate, we incorporate low-dosage naltrexone (LDN).

Assessing and Treating Patient Pain

One of the first concerns breast cancer patients have when they are diagnosed with cancer is that they do not want to feel unnecessary or heavy amounts of pain, and this concern is expressed consistently throughout their treatment protocol. Studies have shown that “patients and their families tend to be under great distress after the diagnosis of cancer. Although many of these patients carry a very poor prognosis, prompt and effective pain control can prevent needless suffering, may significantly improve the quality of their lives, and may potentially spare families the feeling of helplessness and despair… there should be no reason to deny a patient the opportunity to live productively and free of pain.”[1]


“there are two types of pain: nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Nociceptive pain stimulus is transmitted by peripheral nerves from specialized pain receptors, called nociceptors, whose function is to report any injury, which in cancer patients is usually secondary to invasion of tumor into bone, joints, or connective tissue. Nociceptive pain can be somatic (usually sharp or dull well-localized aching or squeezing sensation), visceral (usually poor-localized deep pressure-like sensation), and associated with invasive procedures… Neuropathic pain, on the other hand, results from mechanical or metabolic injury to the nervous system itself, either centrally or peripherally, and is generally associated with mishandling of incoming somatosensory stimuli. In patients with advanced cancer this can be a result of tumor infiltration of nerves or nerve roots, as well as iatrogenic in nature as a result of exposure to chemotherapeutic agents or radiation therapy.”

In order to minimize, and possible eliminate, pain, it is crucial that your medical team frequently and consistently engage in comprehensive pain assessment.This “is one of the most important initial steps for successful management of cancer pain. It is recommended that pain should be evaluated at every clinical visit and incorporated as the ‘fifth vital sign.’ Ideally, the assessment should target the severity, duration, quality, and location of the pain. Reports of pain made by the patient should be the primary source of pain assessment and should be obtained at periodic intervals. Periodic monitoring may include, but is not limited to a patient’s verbal report of treatment efficacy and any side effects associated with pain management.”  With comprehensive pain assessment, patients are given the platform necessary in order to voice the details of their pain, and proper steps are taken to minimize or eliminate the pain. “Pain checks” occur regularly, and when something is not working, it is fixed immediately; procrastinating a change of pain management is extremely unhelpful, not to mention that it goes directly against the fundamental values of compassionate care. 

Further, in order to be effective, “it is important for the clinician to inquire about how the pain has affected patient’s daily activities and relationships with others.” This is because pain management is not just about eliminating physical symptoms; when administered correctly, pain management assures that a patient has proper quality of life, including their ability to socialize and engage in the activities they need and desire to.

Naltrexone in Practice: How it Impacts Breast Cancer Treatment

Naltrexone is most commonly known as a drug used to treat opiate addiction, although its chemical makeup and effects make it a legitimate cancer treatment when administered in a low dosage. As such, naltrexone is often referred to as LDN, or low-dose naltrexone, when discussed in relation to cancer treatment. This is because the proper dosage for cancer patients is around 3 milligrams to 4.5 milligrams, rather than the 50-milligram dosage prescribed for recovering addicts.[2]

Low dosage naltrexone helps cancer patients by directly impacting tumor growth. This is done in one of three possible ways:

  • By inducing increases of metenkephalin (an endorphin produced in large amounts in the adrenal medulla) and beta-endorphin in the blood stream;

  • By inducing an increase in the number and density of opiate receptors on the tumor cell membranes, thereby making them more responsive to the growth-inhibiting effects of the already-present levels of endorphins, which induce apoptosis (cell death) in the cancer cells; and

  • By increasing the natural killer (NK) cell numbers and NK cell activity and lymphocyte activated CD8 numbers, which are quite responsive to increased levels of endorphins. 

Further, low doses of naltrexone help to minimize patients’ pain by “increasing endorphins, which are the ‘feel good’ peptides that are produced during activities such as exercise. Endorphins are responsible for the runner’s high, and in addition to improving well-being, they also improve immune system function,” thus further assisting cancer patients in fighting cancer.

Low-dosage naltrexone is most commonly given to patients at bedtime; this is purposefully done in order to help patients get the highest quality of comfortable sleep possible. A proper night of sleep without restlessness, tossing and turning, or bursts of waking up due to uncontrolled pain is priceless, and entirely achievable. Don’t accept any less; know your worth as a person, and demand proper care. Your pain management specialist should know what is needed in order to keep you pain-free as often as possible; Dr. Octavio Campa does! 

For More Information 

CMN provides alternative cancer treatment that is rooted in compassion: we strive to be compassionate to you, the patient, and to your body, treating you with integrity and medicines that fight the cancer while boosting the strength of your healthy cells. Naltrexone, when used at a low dosage, helps to reduce symptom severity, helping to manage pain and make patients to feel more comfortable. To get in touch with us regarding coming to CMN, as well as the other steps we take to ensure pain-free yet aggressive treatment, you can contact us here or email us at; we look forward to talking with you!

[1]Nersesyan, Hrachya and Konstantin V. Slavin. “Current approach to cancer patient management: Availability and implications of different treatment options.” NCBI.2007.

[2]“Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN).” Cancer Tutor.2017.

CMN Hospital