Disturbances to one’s sleep are more than simply an annoyance. The negative effects of poor sleep on your health are far reaching and extend well beyond a lack of energy and focus throughout the day. You probably know that there are treatments available for those who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, including CPAP therapy, tongue-retaining devices, mouth guards, and other dental equipment.
Did you know that in certain places like Minnesota, medicinal marijuana is being utilized as an alternative therapy for obstructive sleep apnea?
Can sleep apnea sufferers get relief from marijuana use? In the following, ApneaMed discusses the specifics of using medical marijuana to treat sleep apnea and addresses any questions or concerns you may have.
Exactly what is this apnea thing all about, anyway?
When the soft tissues in the back of your throat relax and block your airway while you sleep, you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When the soft tissues of the throat collapse, it blocks the airway and makes it hard to breathe. Because of this, you may experience gasping or choking as you try to free your airway. As a result of the brain not getting enough rest, you won’t be able to get into a restful slumber and will feel exhausted throughout the day.
Most people with sleep apnea are blissfully unaware that they have the disease until a bed partner or friend alerts them to the fact that they snored, grunted, gasped, or choked repeatedly during the night. Those with mild to severe obstructive sleep apnea may find relief from their symptoms with alternate treatment approaches, such as medicinal marijuana, even if continuous positive airway pressure therapy is the standard of care.
Sleep Apnea and Marijuana for Medical Purposes
Many serious health issues, including as stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, obesity, migraines, and more, may be caused by untreated sleep apnea. Though CPAP machines and other breathing aids may help, patients with mild to moderate symptoms of sleep apnea are increasingly looking for alternatives to these devices. To this end, studies examining the efficacy of medicinal marijuana in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea have increased.
Medical marijuana was shown to enhance the breathing patterns of rats with sleep apnea in a 2002 study done by researchers at the University of Illinois. A human trial of medicinal marijuana for sleep apnea was conducted in 2013 after this research and showed that the decrease of sleep apnea symptoms was enhanced. Researchers are optimistic that medicinal marijuana may help patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea, despite the fact that these trials are still in the first phases.
In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health legalized medicinal cannabis for the treatment of sleep apnea, in light of these encouraging trial findings showing a reduction in nighttime bouts of shallow breathing and apneas.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine Recommends Medical Cannabis for Sleep Apnea Patients
The effectiveness of medicinal cannabis in treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is still being investigated, although more recent trials have shown promising results. This abstract was published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and discusses the effects of cannabis on breathing patterns. Since cannabis is not yet subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States, it is difficult to evaluate the long-term influence it has on sleep apnea and quality of sleep (FDA). The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) does not yet endorse the use of medical cannabis for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea because to the lack of regulation and the vast variation in synthetic cannabis.
Sleep apnea evaluation and therapy
Sleep apnea sufferers should talk to their doctors about the best course of therapy, including any drugs being used or planned for the future. In spite of the widespread acceptance of the medicinal benefits of cannabis, studies on its effectiveness in treating sleep apnea are still in their infancy.