Marijuana has been pegged as a cure-all for a myriad of ailments, ranging from diabetes and chronic pain to depression and Lyme disease. But can it give you superhuman powers?
The herb probably can’t help you teleport around town or swim faster than a shark, but according to scientists, it might be able to increase your night vision capabilities. In a recently published study from eLIFE, an online science publication for professionals specializing in bioscience, a group of researchers found a connection between Type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) and eyesight stimulation.
“It’s known that cannabinoids are important in some aspects of brain development, so we wanted to look at them in our system to see and record the functional changes in connectivity [when they’re introduced],” said Edward Ruthazer, a professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University and the lead author of the study.
Tadpoles Swimming in Cannabis Water
The scientists came up with a unique way to test their theories, using a combination of tadpoles and weed-infused water. Ruthazer explained that tadpoles were utilized during testing because of their transparent properties. This allowed researchers to observe and measure any changes in the animals in real-time, using a brain scanner. The group was able to peek inside the brain of the tiny creatures and actually see how cannabis affects their main organ.
The results of the tests revealed that marijuana increased the connection between the eye and the brain. When an individual smokes weed, special cannabinoid receptors become activated, which makes one’s eyes highly sensitive to light. This phenomenon improves visual stimulation and light detection, resulting in enhanced eyesight. Of course, this was all tested on tadpoles and further trials need to be conducted on mammals, specifically humans, to seal the scientists’ findings.
In an unrelated experiment conducted by The Observer columnist Sue Arnold, who was found to be officially blind by doctors from a retinitis pigmentosa diagnosis, cannabis was personally tested for its eyesight-improving benefits. Arnold uncovered that smoking Jamaican skunk temporarily contributed to visual clarity.
Using weed to boost one’s eyesight is a prolific practice that draws its roots from Morocco. In 2004, researchers noticed that local fishermen smoked cannabis to increase their night vision abilities while navigating boats around rough waters. Three lucky local volunteers (happily) tested the herby mixture and found that after taking several rips from a long, hand-crafted pipe, their vision improved consistently. Jamaican fishermen have also reported similar experiences, causing scientists to look deeper into the tradition.
“They attribute their ability to see to the consumption of kif that they spend entire hours smoking before getting into their barques,” said one of the researchers. It is important to consider that the native anglers smoked a mixture of potent buds and tobacco with a 2:1 ratio and “smoked as kif by subjects employing a traditional sebsi pipe.”