As we all know, cannabis is turning out to be useful for all sorts of medical conditions. We have seen it being used for helping to treat chronic pain, asthma and even cancer. But a recent study has suggested that cannabis could actually help improve night vision. So how is this possible? Well, researchers have claimed and have evidence to support the fact that certain cannabinoids, which are the active ingredient within marijuana, are able to greatly increase low light vision of certain vertebrates that took part in a study by improving the sensitising of retinal cells.
Yes, the study was not conducted on humans, but rather on tadpoles. It is not possible to say at this stage whether these cannabinoids would have the same positive effect on a human’s vision, but there is a lot unsubstantiated anecdotal evidence to suggest it does. For example, it has been claimed that Moroccan fishermen have used marijuana over many years and it vastly improved their night vision.
The head researcher said:”The study we have conducted has produced some exciting results for the use of cannabinoids in improving night vision and improving neuronal firing. The next stage would be to verify whether the success we have seen in tadpoles can be replicated in humans”.
The doctor explained that the research team used a wide variety of methods to test and document how the tadpoles managed to react to certain visual stimuli on exposure to varying levels of exogenous and endogenous cannabinoids. The results were actually the opposite of what they predicted before conducting the study. They found that by activating cannabinoid receptors in the tadpoles actually resulted in a marked increase in the activity around the RGCs (retinal ganglion cells). These retinal ganglion cells are responsible for moving information about light levels from the retinal area to the brain to be processed.
Although, these findings seem to contradict some previous studies which identified that cannabinoids actually work to decrease neurotransmission rates, rather than increase it. The team said, “Obviously when you find a previously undiscovered finding, you immediately think we’ve done something wrong here as it goes against widely held ideas and thoughts. But, we conducted the experiment using different methods and repeated it numerous times, but we managed to find the exact same results. Cannabis can help you see in the dark”
The researchers managed to identify a receptor, called CB1R, which has been found to play a crucial role in the prevention of chloride transport into the RGCs explained above. The team found that when this CB1R receptor was triggered, the levels of Chloride were markedly reduced, which results in the receptor being able to fire at increased frequencies, because of this stimulation. This resulted in vastly improved vision for the tadpoles, who were able to identify objects in darkened conditions, even when not exposed to these increased concentrations of cannabinoids. These are exciting findings, and the team intend to investigate this further and try and find a use for us humans.