Does Cannabis Improve Night Vision?
Scientific literature based on older studies has long suggested that there is evidence that cannabis may improve night vision. In 2004, a team of scientists who conducted research among Moroccan fishermen found that those not only failed to lose their sense of direction after consuming generous amounts of local kif, but had been observed to navigate better in the dark. A similar vision-enhancing effect from cannabis had also been observed with Jamaican fishermen, strongly suggesting a link between cannabis and heightened night vision.
Although these previous observations have been intriguing, there had been no further research on the effect of cannabis on night vision. That is until recently when researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital conducted more in-depth tests.
This time, the researchers conducted a study on tadpoles, the larval stage of frogs, where they used both the cannabinoids found in the tadpole’s own nervous system and those from the cannabis plant. The intriguing finding of the study is that the eye and brain were able to communicate faster and more effectively, improving vision and therefore confirming the earlier observations.
HOW CANNABIS IMPROVES NIGHT VISION
In a dark environment such as at night, the eyes receive less information, which results in a longer confirmation time of visual data by the brain. It appears that cannabinoids are speeding up this communication time, effectively making up for the information shortage. This is likely the same effect that had been observed with the Moroccan and Jamaican fishermen more than a decade ago.
The earlier observations from 2004, together with this new research are very promising, although science is still far from making a conclusive statement. The next step required would be tests conducted on mammals such as mice. Although evidence is strongly suggesting a positive effect of cannabis on night vision, it will likely take many more years until we fully understand this relationship.
HOW CANNABIS MAY HAVE HELPED EARLY HUMANS
It is interesting to speculate here how cannabis and its likely beneficial effect on night vision may have played a role in the development and history of humans. For many thousands of years all throughout history, humans have used cannabis. Vision is inarguably human’s most important sense that took a significant, if not the most important role in our ancestor’s development. It is not far-fetched to think that the consumption of cannabis and then as a result from it improved vision at night may have given early humans an important edge in survival and hunting. Cannabis may well have had a much bigger role in our history than commonly thought!
Written by: Georg
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