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Cannabinoids May Help Treat Sleep Apnea

Macai Polansky

Published on March 10, 2021

New research has shown cannabinoids may be able to treat sleep apnea; this is a welcome development as the current methods of treating sleep apnea include uncomfortable clunky masks or surgeries that are quite expensive. Although the research is still in its early stages, it reveals promising results about the effect of cannabinoids on sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder which is quite common. According to the Sleep Apnea Association in American, an estimate of 22 million individuals in the United States have symptoms of sleep apnea in different degrees or stages. Individuals experiencing breathing difficulties when asleep are usually suffering from sleep apnea. The founder of the CSMA Dr. Jerald Simmons, MD, who is a board-certified specialist in Neurology, sleep medicine as well as Epilepsy from Stanford, spends the majority of his time working with patients who have sleep apnea.

Dr. Simmons defined sleep apnea as a condition which is unstable and changes depending on your sleep stage; he went further to say it is a condition in which the airway constrict, with the throat muscles relaxing, causing breathing to come much harder. When the airways begin to become narrow, at the back of the throat, it creates a vacuum effect. This vacuum enables snoring, or in high degrees, the throat is entirely closed and prevents you from breathing.

There are a host of medical complications produced by sleep apnea such as high blood pressure, heartburn, strokes, diabetes, headache, fatigues. Furthermore. With millions of people suffering from sleep apnea on the roads is a safety concern.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea

There are numerous sleep apnea treatments available today, which majority take an entirely mechanical approach. Making further clarifications, Dr. Simmons stated that it is essential to make use of a dental appliance or a mask that prevents the relaxation of throat muscles, preventing them from ultimately closing.

When using the mask, your nose is covered and connected to a machine that is consistently moving air to the back of your throat another method is a device that you strap to your face and forces your jaw forward. Due to the high cost of surgery, that remains the most unpopular treatment method. Since most of the available devices available today are complicated and cumbersome to operate, and the majority of sleep apnea patients do not make use of their dental appliances correctly or at all. Presently, oral treatments for sleep apnea do not exist.

The Sleep Apnea and Cannabinoids Research

A new study named “PACE Clinical Trial: The Effects of Dronabinol in Obstructive Sleep Apnea.” suggests that oral cannabinoid treatment may soon be available. The study monitored 73 sleep apnea patients selected by Northwestern and Chicago University scientists. The subjects were tested for the severe degree of their sleep apnea that ranged from moderate to severe, which meant there was a complete closure of the throat. The study also tested the patient’s fatigue levels before starting the test.

The scientists gave placebo pills, a very low dosage of the cannabinoid medication as well as a high dosage of cannabinoids to three different test groups. Researchers utilized dronabinol, a synthetic cannabinoid, which has FDA approval to aid patients undergoing chemotherapy and to deal with appetite loss. Although other studies have been conducted regarding sleep apnea and cannabinoids this, however, remains the most reliable. As it was carried out in a professional experimental way, as would various other pharmaceutical compounds would undergo trial.

According to Dr. Simmons, the research findings were fascinating. The research found significant improvements provided to sleep apnea patients by dronabinol. Patients showed signs of reduced symptoms and even reduced fatigue than the group under the placebo. It was also evident that the higher dosage subjects had more significant improvements. The individuals who had severe symptoms greatly benefited from cannabinoids.

The patients showed a massive reduction of symptoms in the acutest point of their sleep cycle. The research showcased that patients received the most benefit during REM sleep and this was most relevant in cases where sleep apnea was experienced, in which there is a complete blockage of the airway.

The Future of Sleep Apnea Medication

Oral cannabinoid medication remains a long way from being used against sleep apnea. Nevertheless, the studies have revealed impressive results which can boost research with regards to cannabinoid. However, the FDA has gone ahead to approve dronabinol, which means getting it to the open market will be much easier.

Aware of how severe this condition is, Dr. Simmons seeks that a lot of other tests will be carried it to certify this research. Stating that there are zero medications that can help people fight this condition as well as reduce the side effects of sleep apnea. No doubt in the future that oral cannabinoids will ensure greater health for individuals battling sleep apnea.