Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder defined by much more than just snoring. It is associated with excessive daytime sleepiness, restless and non-restorative sleep, impaired quality of life, increased risk of car accidents, poor work performance, and cardiovascular disease.
There are many ways naturopathic medicine can help patients with sleep apnea,
but I’ll highlight my top 3:
#1 – Weight Management
If you are overweight or obese and have sleep apnea, you don’t need a juice cleanse, or a tea-tox, you need a well managed plan that focuses on sustainable and attainable weight loss of approximately ½-1 lb per week. The current American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines by Epstein et al state that, after 10% body weight loss, patients should be retested to determine whether continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) assistance is still necessary.
#2. – Vitamin D3 Testing and Appropriate Supplementation
Studies have reported a high rate of vitamin D deficiency in OSA, where vitamin D levels are lower in severe OSA. By running blood levels in patients with OSA, naturopathic doctors like myself with prescribing rights can prescribe heroic or high doses of vitamin D3 safely and in the short term in order to get patients to a therapeutic vitamin D3 level. Studies have shown that vitamin D3 supplementation in patients with OSA can lower inflammation, LDL cholesterol, and glucose levels. So improving these parameters in patients with OSA decreases their chance of developing cardiovascular disease. So bottom line – get your vitamin D3 levels tested and work with an ND who can prescribe appropriate doses to get you to a therapeutic level quickly and safely. Did you know - ND’s can write an approximately $40 blood test requisition to determine your vitamin D3 level.
#3 – Acupuncture
A meta-analysis (which is a study of studies) has shown that acupuncture and electro-acupuncture are effective and safe treatments for OSA. Acupuncture treatment can improve both the apnea index and oxygen saturation. Acupuncture is within the scope of naturopathic medicine, so an ND can absolutely deliver this treatment.
There you have it. Three safe, effective ways to manage your sleep apnea with naturopathic medicine.