03.The research and the products
In search of evidence, we contacted the manufacturers or suppliers of 10 popular anti-snoring products, asking them to provide documentation to support their product’s claims.
We also searched medical literature and spoke to the following experts:
- An otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist)
- A researcher from a sleep centre
- A professor of sleep medicine
- A dental prosthetist
- An aromatherapist.
We asked them for their take on these products and the supporting research that we’d found.
We looked at two pillows:
- DENTONS Anti-snore Silent Knight Therapeutic Pillow
- DICK WICKS Magnetic Anti-snore Pillow.
- The label on this pillow claims it stops or reduces snoring for the 70% of people who snore “… due to restricted breathing, caused by bad posture during sleep.” Despite repeated requests, the company didn’t provide evidence to back up this claim.
- The company told us its Magnetic Anti-snore Pillow prevents snoring by supporting the user’s neck, keeping the soft palate away from the throat. It had no studies to support this theory.
- The magnetic part of the pillow is supposed to reduce pain (the company said some customers claimed a reduction in pain meant a reduction in snoring too). Again, it didn’t provide evidence to support this claim. And when CHOICE looked at static magnet therapy (September 2004), we didn’t find conclusive evidence for pain relief either.
The only clinical trial of a pillow we could find compared three popular snoring aids (a nasal strip, a throat spray and a specially designed pillow). It found all three ineffective.
- Theoretically, something that extends the neck may open the airway. But experts doubt a pillow could hold a person in one position to keep their neck extended for the whole night.
Nasal Strips and dilators
Nasal strips and dilators help open the nasal passages so the user can breathe more freely through the nose rather than the mouth.
The ENT specialist from the Australian Society of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (ASOHNS) thought these devices could help a small number of people whose snoring is caused by certain types of nasal obstruction.
- The website for BREATHE RIGHT nasal strips lists a number of studies related to this product’s various uses, including as an anti-snoring device.
- These studies show contradictory results – for instance, an independent study showed BREATHE RIGHT nasal strips to be ineffective, while another (financed in part by the products’ sole distributor) showed a reduction in the frequency of snoring in a group of patients with rhinitis.
- This company’s website has links to clinical trials of its product. While these showed positive results, our ENT and sleep medicine experts thought the way the product was rated was too subjective to be considered reliable.
APOLLA Snore Free
- We couldn’t find any studies of the APOLLA product, though the manufacturer supplied a testimonial.
One essential oil product is designed to be inhaled. The other is sprayed at the back of the throat.
AROMATHERAPY CLINIC Anti Snoring Blend
- This product is a mixture of essential oils that can be dabbed on the skin, inhaled directly or diffused in an oil burner. The literature for this product claims are that it “… clears sinuses and enhances the function of the respiratory tract”.
ESSENTIAL HEALTH Helps Stop Snoring
- Helps Stop Snoring is a throat spray. Its website says it “works by re-toning this soft tissue, ‘the Soft Palate’, which when taut and active cannot reverberate to cause snoring”.
- We found two clinical trials — one (financed by the manufacturer of Helps Stop Snoring) found it effective in reducing snoring, while another independent trial of an unnamed essential oils product with the same ingredients showed no significant difference between the product and a placebo.
- The ENT specialist thought the methodology of both trials was unreliable. A representative from the International Federation of Aromatherapists said while both these blends may clear congestion, she couldn't see how essential oils could improve poor muscle tone at the back of the throat.
- The professor of sleep medicine agreed with the aromatherapist and said there was no evidence to support this theory.
We found two homeopathic throat sprays and some homeopathic tablets.
GREEN PHARMACEUTICALS SnoreStop Extinguisher
- SnoreStop comes in the form of a homeopathic throat spray or tablets, and has a clinical trial to support its claims (again, financed by its manufacturer).
BRAUER Snore Eze
- BRAUER supplied a list of ingredients and their properties.
- A representative from the Australian Homeopathic Association said the ingredients in these homeopathic products were listed in the Materia Medica — the reference book of homeopathic medicines — as some of the many possible snoring treatments. However, the specific ingredient suiting a particular patient mightn’t have been included. He said a homeopath would usually only prescribe the single most appropriate medicine for the individual rather than a generalised ‘one-cure-fits-all’ approach.
- Our ENT specialist thought the clinical trial of SnoreStop was poorly designed, and that one trial wasn’t enough to establish if it really worked. He said the best way to determine a treatment’s efficacy was via a meta-analysis — an overview of a number of studies that compares and draws conclusions from all the results.
This article last reviewed April 2006