Sleep apnea is scary. All of a sudden someone stops breathing in their sleep for 10, 20, 30 seconds, or longer, then suddenly gasps like a drowning person. It's a significant public health concern, costing the country billions of dollars per year and perhaps increasing cancer rates.
But the main active ingredient in common marijuana, THC, can probably be used to treat sleep apnea, researchers suggest.
THC stabilizes regular breathing during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea, researchers report in the journal Psychiatry in January.
Seventeen patients with sleep apnea were given THC in pill form each day, researchers found that weed's key molecule was "safe and well-tolerated" and "significantly reduces" sleep apnea severity. ... "No degradation of sleep architecture or serious adverse events was noted."
The work builds on animal studies showing that THC actually helps boosts upper airway muscle tone - the main throat muscles that go slack during sleep and cause sleep apnea.