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Cannabinoid Drug Might Treat Sleep Apnea

By jeremyc | December 2, 2017

In a new clinical trial, researchers have found that a drug containing a synthetic version of the chief psychoactive component of cannabis helps in treating sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person repeatedly stops breathing for a short time. The pause in breathing can be as short as 10 seconds or as long as a couple of minutes. The duration as well as number of pauses in breathing varies from person to person. Some may pause just a few times while other may pause 30 times or even more in an hour.

Sleep apnea is a common health condition. It is estimated that mild sleep apnea affects nearly 20 percent of Americans. Common as the condition is, at present there’s no cure for it, neither are there many treatment options.

The name of the drug in question is dronabinol. It contains a synthetic version of THC, the chief psychoactive component of cannabis which triggers a “high” when someone uses them.

This clinical trial was bigger than any previous clinical trial of this kind. These findings are of the second phase of this trial. At present, dronabinol is used for treating nausea as well as vomiting in cancer patients taking chemotherapy.

For this trial, the researchers enrolled 73 adults having sleep apnea. Some of them were given dronabinol in high dosage, some in low dosage, and some received placebo.

Compared to those who receive placebo, the high-dosage group recorded considerable improvement. The researchers, however, agree bigger trials are needed to further study the effectiveness of this drug in treating sleep apnea.

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