Would these blood-sucking parasites really want to eat them?
The researchers checked their molecular analysis tools, and the DNA didn't lie: sucking sand flies of blood, collected around the world, chewed like mad on the leaves of marijuana.
It was not in Colorado, California or Amsterdam that the parasites were collected, but in regions which prohibit the cultivation of cannabis and in particular in Brazil, Ethiopia, Israel and Kazakhstan. Sandflies, which suck the juice from plants but also drink human blood when carrying their offspring, have located cannabis and fed on it "despite the apparent absence of these plants on most sites," wrote Researchers. (The exception to this mystery was Kazakhstan, where a native wild strain of cannabis grows). In areas where leishmaniasis is prevalent, insect traps targeting sand flies could be much more effective if cannabis is used as bait.
In areas where leishmaniasis is prevalent, insect traps targeting sandflies could be much more effective if cannabis is used as bait.
Whether urban or rural, surrounded by deserts or lush gardens, sand flies had found marijuana leaves to suck on the juice in just about every place. An Israeli kibbutz was the only place where none of the sand flies analyzed had recently eaten a cannabis plant - and yet, just ten kilometers away in the West Bank, two-thirds of the sand flies captured had recently visited the grass. prohibited.
This finding is a curiosity, but, more importantly, it could inform public health decisions in the tropics and subtropics. The sand flies studied spread leishmaniasis to around one million people per year. It is a more or less serious illness that people can contract when flies with a particular parasite bite them to drink their blood. In areas where leishmaniasis is prevalent, insect traps targeting sand flies could be much more effective if cannabis were used as bait.
The researchers couldn't explain why sand flies seem so particularly attracted to cannabis, but they seem to agree that it is unlikely that it is, as with humans, to experience a high. They did note, however, that some cannabinoids have antimicrobial properties. They speculate that consuming the plant's juice could help neutralize certain parasites found in the sandfly gut, including those that cause leishmaniasis in humans. If sandflies self-medicate their microbiomes with cannabis compounds this could provide valuable information to reduce public health costs associated with these tiny insects.