Medical marijuana is becoming a more popular treatment option around the country, although it is not yet something we do in Nebraska. It might be that it’s all for the best, too, because it seems that some states’ regulatory boards for medical marijuana (MMJ) are going a bit overboard approving it for treatment of conditions where it’s not effective.
That’s according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), which last week released a statement saying that MMJ is not a good treatment for sleep apnea.
Not Proven Effective or Safe
The rationale for the AASM’s statement is simple: no one has proven that MMJ is effective or safe for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.
There is no doubt that people using marijuana can feel sleepy. But using something that seems to make you fall asleep more easily doesn’t always help you get better sleep. Like alcohol, which can seem like a great idea for getting to sleep, but makes your sleep apnea worse, marijuana might not be a good choice for sleep.
One problem is that no one has done that research. Part of the problem is that because it is still considered an illegal drug by the Federal Government and by many states, it’s hard to do good research on it. But, until good research is available, there’s no scientific justification for a sleep doctor or sleep dentist to recommend the treatment.
Another problem is that there is no consistent, reliable way to dose MMJ. None of the available delivery systems–smoking, vaping, edibles, etc.–has been shown to give a consistent, reliable dose. And when it comes to medicine, that’s what you need. Many medicines, including MMJ, can change from being helpful to harmful depending on the dose. Until a good dosing system is developed, recommending MMJ for sleep apnea seems unwise.
Finally, even the commercially developed cannabinoid medication that is supposed to treat sleep apnea isn’t doing so well. It’s been shown to reduce apneas, but that doesn’t mean it actually improves sleep or leads to improved health outcomes. It has little to no impact on daytime sleepiness, and its other impacts are unknown. Which is part of the reason why it hasn’t yet been approved by the FDA for sleep apnea treatment.
Choose Proven Treatments
Even before the current MMJ trend, countercultural proponents of marijuana made the drug seem like it was a great, unexploited resource for treating essentially every illness. However, in states where MMJ has become legal, the reality is much more modest. It can help in some cases, but it’s not appropriate for treating everything. Including sleep apnea.
Instead, there are many proven treatments for sleep apnea that are better choices. CPAP is proven to be almost 100% effective treatment, when it’s used properly. And for people who don’t tolerate or don’t want CPAP, oral appliances can give great results with better comfort and ease. And there are even more treatment options for other people to help them get the treatment that’s most suited to them.
To find the best, proven treatment for your sleep apnea in Omaha, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Roger Roubal at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center.