Red eyes are one of the most common side effects of smoking cannabis, but did you know that smoking weed can also enhance night vision? A new study by Lois Miraucourt of the Montreal Neurological Institute proves just that.
In the study, researchers treated the eye tissue of tadpoles with a cannabinoid, then measured its effects on those cells. The results were surprising. They discovered that cannabis made cells in the eyes more sensitive and increased the rate those cells fired bright and dim light stimuli.
The scientific reason behind this is due to inhibition of the protein NKCC1 and its actions upon the CB1 receptor. The study explains that:
"NKCC1 is a co-transporter protein that normally shuttles sodium, potassium, and chloride ions in and out of cells, and their concentrations determine the electrical properties of nerve cells.
Overall, these experiments show that cannabinoids reduce the concentration of chloride ions inside the retinal ganglion cells, making them more excitable and more sensitive to light."
In layman's terms, pot can make you see in the dark, dude.
The phenomenon was first noted a quarter century earlier by M.E. West, a pharmacologist at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, who observed that Jamaican fishermen using cannabis displayed "an uncanny ability to see in the dark."
The visual enhancement facilitated their ability to navigate boats through treacherous coral reefs while fishing at night. West claimed:
"It was impossible to believe that anyone could navigate a boat without compass and without light in such treacherous surroundings."
West added that "the man who had taken the rum extract of cannabis had far better night vision than I had, and that a subjective effect was not responsible."
A second study into the effects of cannabis on night vision took place in 2002 amongst hashish smokers in the Rif mountains of Morocco. The study proved that hashish imbibing Moroccans experienced an increase in night vision, confirming West’s earlier findings.
It was recently discovered that THC can heighten one's sense of smell and taste, because THC fits into the brain's olfactory bulb, resulting in munchies.
The findings are most intriguing for their long term medicinal values, down the road, specifically in the areas of treatment for diseases such as glaucoma and retinitis pigments. It has already been found that cannabis displays a neuroprotective effect on reticule cells.
The hope is that cannabis may be able to slow progression, or even reverse effects of these debilitating diseases.