Cannabinoids May Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea

man with sleep apnea and cpap machineAccording to a study found in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, dronabinol was associated with lower apnea/hypopnea index (AHI), improved subjective sleepiness and greater overall treatment satisfaction:


At baseline, overall apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) was 25.9±11.3, Epworth Sleepiness Scale score (ESS) was 11.45±3.8, maintenance of wakefulness test (MWT) mean latency was 19.2±11.8 min, body mass index (BMI) was 33.4±5.4 kg/m2 and age was 53.6±9.0 years. The number and severity of adverse events, and treatment adherence (0.3±0.6 missed doses/week) were equivalent among all treatment groups. Subjects receiving 10mg/day of dronabinol expressed the highest overall satisfaction with treatment (p=0.04). In comparison to placebo, dronabinol dose-dependently reduced AHI by 10.7±4.4 (p=0.02) and 12.9±4.3 (p=0.003) events/hour at doses of 2.5 and 10 mg/day, respectively. Dronabinol at 10 mg/day reduced ESS score by -3.8±0.8 points from baseline (p<0.0001) and by -2.3±1.2 points in comparison to placebo (p=0.05). MWT sleep latencies, gross sleep architecture and overnight oxygenation parameters were unchanged from baseline in any treatment group.


These findings support the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids in patients with OSA. In comparison to placebo, dronabinol was associated with lower AHI, improved subjective sleepiness and greater overall treatment satisfaction. Larger scale clinical trials will be necessary to clarify the best potential approach(es) to cannabinoid therapy in OSA.

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