Can CBD Oil Cure Sleep Apnea?

 

Is CBD really a drug? Is there really a cure for sleep apnea? Rarely a day goes by without headlines claiming CBD oil can remedy a host of chronic disorders and diseases. It was only a matter of time that these magical gummies and oils laid claim to rid people of that annoying CPAP. While there is no denying CBD success with pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and anxiety, can it really treat sleep disorders? 

First, put the CPAP back on the nightstand and finish reading this article. Don’t jump online to order a gallon of oil and a case of gummies.  This blog will do something that no other article will and give the answer in the first couple of paragraphs. The one stipulation is to read the full article and digest the facts (drumroll music please). CBD is NOT a universal Band-Aid and will not cure sleep apnea. Sadly it is not some kind of little blue pill that can keep a “stiff” upper airway. The physiological elements simply prove it to not be possible however it can provide a role make sleep apnea treatment better.  

Will CBD Help CPAP Compliance?

While disappointed as it sounds getting this bad new there is still good news ahead. While CBD cannot cure sleep apnea it can play a crucial role in adherence to CPAP therapy. Compliance or “adherence” are fancy words that describe how much a person uses a CPAP machine. Unfortunately for people that must use insurance to rent the CPAP machine it is required to show a certain amount of usage monthly or quarterly. 

What is CBD?

CBD is an acronym for cannabidiol, a binding chemical that acts as a messenger to the receptors in the central nervous system. It has been shown to promote positive benefits for people that suffer from many different health conditions including insomnia, anxiety, and pain.

Do not to confuse CBD with THC (tetrahydrocannabidol) which is the cannabinoid associated with the psychoactive “high” or “buzz” effect people feel from medical marijuana use. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

The word Apnea is a modern translation from the Greek language meaning “breathless” or “Without Breath”. An apnea event occurs during sleep when your airway collapses causing an obstruction that restricts air to the lungs. These blockages in the airway can range from 10 seconds to 2 minutes or more! Most people struggle to hold their breath for more than 30 seconds while awake but a collapsed airway can shut it down for minutes. Scary stuff. 

Air flow to the lungs is converted into oxygen that the heart pumps throughout the body and brain. The brain is a super computer and recognizes when the body is in trouble from low oxygen. As a result this will cause a brief and unnoticed awakening that disrupts restful sleep. A constant cycle of airway blockage can put a dangerous strain on the heart.  As a result each time an apnea occurs it triggers a chain of events that cause negative health consequences. The short-term consequences to notice are excessive daytime sleepiness, fatigue or maybe morning headaches. Due to untreated sleep apnea it can lead to hypertension, stroke, heart failure, and type II diabetes. 

Is CBD Oil Effective While Using CPAP?

The word CPAP is an acronym for continuous positive airway pressure. A CPAP machine is a medical device that uses pressurized room air and delivers it via a mask worn by the user. The use of CBD oil in conjunction with CPAP can have benefits the users in a variety of ways. Among many other pros to using CBD it is these 2 reasons that top the list in our opinion. 

  1. The failure rate for people with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP is a disappointing 49% to 51%. This means only about half the people that need the machine actually end up using it. The thought of sleeping with a mask on your face and breathing with a machine will make people anxious. CBD oil can reduce or eliminate the anxiety of using CPAP. This is a great option for people new to CPAP or for people that tried it in the past but gave up. 
  1. It should be noted unlike alcohol or opiates, CBD has not been shown to cause depression of the central nervous system. However, the use of CPAP with opiates, sedatives or alcohol will result in increased apnea occurrences. The use of opiate or pain killers with CPAP can result in central or complex sleep apnea. These drugs can numb the neuroreceptors in the central nervous system that stimulates the phrenic nerves. It is the phrenic nerves that create respiratory drive and initiate people to breathe on their own.  

Forms of CBD Delivery Methods

It is available in different concentration levels in these forms. 

  • Edibles: CBD is available in various types of edible foods including “gummies”, cookies, brownies, etc. 
  • Electronic Vaporizer: CBD oil used a vape pen that heats up the extract to be inhaled. 
  • Drops: CBD can be available in liquid drops to be added to drinks 

Known Side Effects of CBD Oil

  • Fatigue or Drowsiness 
  • Fluctuations in Weight and Appetite 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dry Mouth 

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) Position 

“Therefore, it is the position of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) that medical cannabis and/or its synthetic extracts should not be used for the treatment of OSA due to unreliable delivery methods and insufficient evidence of effectiveness, tolerability, and safety. OSA should be excluded from the list of chronic medical conditions for state medical cannabis programs, and patients with OSA should discuss their treatment options with a licensed medical provider at an accredited sleep facility.” 

Disclosure: 

CBD may interact with certain medication and it is recommended to speak with a physician prior to using.  This page contains general information about sleep health. Any information provided should not be considered or treated as medical advice and always consult a medical professional before making any health or lifestyle changes. Products and information mentioned are not intended to be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, advice, or treatment. 

About the Author

1800CPAP

Jason Smith is recognized by the board of polysomnographic technologists (BRPT) as a registered polysomnographic technologist (RPSGT) since 2003. He is also Director of Clinical Operations for 6 multi-state sleep diagnostic facilities including the nation’s largest 20 bed sleep disorder testing center. Jason has also been a Co-Author with two research publications featured in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.