Medical marijuana usage is definitely a controversial topic. Already legal in 20 states plus the District of Columbia as a medical treatment, recent headlines indicate that the Governor of New York will make the state total go to lucky twenty one. Only Colorado and Washington allow recreational marijuana usage in addition to true medical treatment. There are quite a number of conditions that can be treated with medical marijuana, such as cancer, glaucoma and HIV/AIDS. So question is: Can sleep apnea be helped by marijuana?
Whether you snore or gasp for air during a night of sleep, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your sleep. Characterized by a partial or full obstruction in a person’s airway, muscles in the back of the throat can go slack. Breathing becomes impaired. In fact, breathing can actually cease from seconds to as long as a minute, and occur as little as five times an hour to greater than 30 instances. Granted, there are a number of treatment options for the OSA sufferer once properly diagnosed such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), oral appliances and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). But are there other options?
Can Marijuana Lessen the Severity of OSA?
There have been a number of studies that focused on whether or not marijuana could be a new alternative to treating sleep apnea. Published in SLEEP, a group at the University of Illinois decided to evaluate the effects of marijuana in animal test subjects with sleep apnea. The results of this study proved that marijuana—specifically the main ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) —helped to decrease the number of breathing pauses based on dosage by way of increasing airway muscle tone.
After the successful test of the theory in rats, researchers decided to test humans in a pre-clinical trial. The results of this study demonstrated that sleep apnea indexes could be reduced by 32 percent in subjects with OSA. Promising insight until this reduction is compared to other more traditional treatment options, which reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes to a far greater degree. At any rate, the lead investigator received a multi-million dollar grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) to take the study of marijuana in treating sleep apnea to the next level of research: phased clinical trials. Therefore on the horizon, marijuana or THC in pill form might be used to treat OSA.
If you believe that you might have sleep apnea and would like an individualized treatment plan, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 or schedule a free consultation.