Weed and CPTSD: Best
Strains for Complex PTSD 2023

Written By: Jay Hyung
Bong Engineer

When picking the best strains for complex PTSD it’s not about the strain name or the THC content.


Focus instead on the terpene contents within the cannabis strain, specifically Myrcene and Linalool (which relaxes your body and helps deactivate your fight, flight, freeze, or fawn response).

best strains for complex ptsd

This topic hits home for me because I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD, and wanted to share my personal experience as I know how tough it can be navigating the murky waters of a CPTSD-induced flashback.


Personally, I had amazing success with cannabis and CPTSD by shrinking the inner critic and through the grieving process, and in this article, I want to give you some tips on what worked for me and what did not.

CPTSD Grieving
with marijuana

Peter Walker, author of Complex PTPSD: From Surviving to Thriving, states in his book:


“the traumatizing parent (your abuser) soon eradicates the child’s capacity to emote. The child becomes afraid and ashamed of her own tears and anger. Tears get shut off and anger gets trapped inside and is eventually turned against the self as self-attack, self-hate, self-disgust, and self-rejection. Self-hate is the most grievous reenactment of parental abandonment”.


In his practice of treating patients with CPTSD, Peter found that nothing was more effective than crying out the pain of your childhood.

weed and complex ptsd

Research shows that crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and this helps your body to rest, digest, and self-soothe which helps to deactivate the fight or flight response that so many of us are stuck in.


Emotional crying specifically, releases cortisol (stress hormones) through your tears.


When I am caught in a CPTSD flashback crying literally absolves it and brings me back to total equilibrium every time.


First I will show you how to find the right cannabis strains by looking at the terpene content (found on all cannabis products), and then I’ll give you a few tips on how to use cannabis to effectively grieve and reduce the attacks of the inner critic.

Best strains for CPTSD

It's all about the terpenes

I have been in the cannabis industry for quite some time and strain names are a very tricky way to buy cannabis. For example, if you buy Ice Cream Cake Strain in California it may smoke very differently from Ice Cream Cake Strain grown in Oklahoma.


So what strains work for me here in California may not work for you in what state you live.


For CPTSD the best strains depend entirely on the terpene content. What we are looking for are two terpenes that will help relax your body’s sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response).


Overarousal of the sympathetic nervous system is a common symptom of CPTSD and is extremely hard to “snap out of” as we both know.


Recent neuroscience has found an abundance of cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala. The amygdala is the “smoke detector” of your mind that signals when there is danger and activates the fight-or-flight response that many of us are trapped in during a CPTSD flashback.


Let’s talk about how to shop for strains specifically for CPTSD and next how to use the relaxing cannabis high to promote a reduction in the inner critic and eventually get to the goal of grieving.

Myrcene and Linalool are
the best terpenes for CPTSD

Regulate nervous system

The National Library of Medicine found that Myrcene (which is found in cannabis and also essential oils) helps improve nerve activity in the body and was shown to relieve stress and anxiety.


Myrcene is the terpene in cannabis responsible for the strong body high and has a long history of being used as a sleep aid (many people with CPTSD struggle with sleep).


Linalool is another terpene found in cannabis that has a sedative-like property to help relax your muscles.


The next time you go to a dispensary just walk in and ask for a cannabis strain that has the highest content of Myrcene and Linalool – it’s literally that easy.


Another factor to look for is CBD %. If your CBD% is 0 then you will have a much stronger psychoactive high (and if you do not smoke weed regularly this may cause anxiety and paranoia).


If this is your first time smoking weed: I recommend finding a strain with high Myrcene and Linalool terpenes and a higher % of CBD (that way the psychoactive high is much more manageable).


If you smoke regularly: I recommend finding the strain at your local dispensary with the highest Myrcene and Linalool terpenes but with a low CBD%.


If your weed tolerance is very high: then I recommend finding a strain with the highest Myrcene and Linalool terpenes but with 0% CBD. You can check out my article here that will show you how to get higher of weed if you are struggling with a high tolerance.


CPTSD often leaves our body very tense because our brain believes we are in danger and then we get unconsciously stuck in a fight, flight, freeze, or fawn state.


These two cannabis terpenes will help your body relax so you can process what is going on and get to the source of your trigger.

What to avoid when
smoking weed with CPTSD

Before you decide to use weed with CPTSD I want to share some of the things you will want to avoid. What we want to stay clear of is using cannabis as a source to “numb” your pain.


Here are a few mistakes I made during my time using cannabis with CPTSD so hopefully, you can avoid these mistakes as well.

Only buy cannabis
from a dispensary

Bad weed feels bad

There is a ton of unregulated weed and I recommend you only buy from a licensed dispensary.


The reason why is unregulated cannabis is often subject to a lot more pesticides and chemicals because they have zero regulations and accountability.


Mold, plant growth hormones, and Eagle-20 pesticides are commonly found in unregulated cannabis (not all but it’s common).


The result of smoking cannabis that is unregulated can be a very dirty feeling high full of anxiety and paranoia.


I use cannabis to relax my body so my nervous system is calm and it’s much easier to grieve and process things in this state, but not when the weed makes you feel terrible.

Use cannabis
intentionally for CPTSD

Avoid disassociation

A common symptom of CPTSD is disassociation.


When smoking weed with CPTSD we want to stay clear of thinking of cannabis as a form of disassociation to escape from our current reality.


I like to think of weed with CPTSD as a meditation. When I know I am in a CPTSD-induced flashback I clear my schedule and use weed for a set time.


The important thing here is a set time.


By setting a time, I’m telling myself that I am using weed with the purpose to step in and feel my body and allow the emotions to process.


Be intentional here! You don’t want to fall into the trap of just smoking endlessly for days because oftentimes that can make you feel worse over time – I myself experienced this.

How to use
weed with CPTSD

I’ve personally had a ton of success with cannabis and Complex post-traumatic stress disorder.


Since there isn’t a ton of research on CPSTD and weed I can only give you my personal experience and how I use cannabis to grieve effectively and reduce the inner-critic attacks.


Disclaimer: This is what has worked for me personally in some of my lowest points. Every person reacts very differently to cannabis depending on their tolerance, weight, age, and strain. Please use the next steps as a “soft guide” and find out what works best for you.

Smoking weed
with CPTSD

Create a safe haven to relax first

Smoking weed for me helps to expand my thoughts and relax my body.


Often times we can’t believe the thoughts in our head especially when it’s a mental attack on ourselves or others.


Weed helps me to look at the problem completely differently, with much more compassion towards myself and others.


I purposely go into my room alone and start with something that is fun like playing my favorite video game or watching a comedy. The point here is to relax your body and get your mind off things.


Create a safe environment, lock your door, turn your phone on silent (avoid triggering text), and put on some relaxing music.


This is your safe haven!


The first goal is to relax your body and mind. What happens to me normally is that once I’m in a much more relaxed state it’s so much easier to let out a good cry.


So how can you promote grieving through cannabis? Let’s find out next.

How do you effectively
grieve with marijuana?

For many grieving is hard.


If you find crying very difficult Peter Walker recommends that you first focus on the inner critic attacks. I like to read Chapter 8 of Peter Walker’s book, it’s the 8 steps of CPTSD flashback management.


But if it’s your first time smoking weed with CPTSD then I suggest you try the following which has worked wonders for me.


I try to make the process effortless for me. Basically, I do not sit in my room alone, high, trying to force tears out.


I use music, movies, writing, and meditation to help the grieving process. When I smoke weed I make it a very healing space and again it’s very intentional.

Watch a movie that
made you cry before

Grieving effortlessly

We all have certain movies that make us cry every time we watch them.


What I like to do is play one of these movies while high.


I like to pick the movie that I feel most resistant to at the moment because we tend to want to avoid the cry. CPTSD is our defense against feeling because we were taught it was not ok to feel so our goal here is to fully feel.


It takes a bit of courage here, but I promise if you sit through the movie it may help you grieve naturally. Plus, there is nothing better than laying back and watching a nice movie on weed.


Avoid violent and intense movies and focus more on movies that have great endings such as Interstellar and The Blind Side with tons of emotional feels.


Remember when you smoke with CPSTD you are creating a safe place and even the movies have to reflect that as well.

Watch heartwarming
or sad youtube videos

A more targeted approach

Another very helpful way to get an effortless cry is by searching for heartwarming youtube videos or youtube videos that will make you cry.


I like to play different videos and depending on what is upsetting you at the moment you can search based on how you feel.


Youtube searches to type: videos to cry, emotional videos, restoring humanity, and many more are very helpful searches that are loaded with effortless cries when you smoke weed.

Play a song
that makes you feel

Music and weed

Music captures emotions perfectly.


Sometimes when I get high and I play the right song it brings up emotions that I may be trying to fight.


Since weed relaxes your body and your sympathetic nervous system, it’s much easier to cry to a good song.


Make a playlist of emotional songs and just scan through until you find the right one that helps you get some good grieving in.


When you play music make sure you keep focusing on your body by breathing deeply and not the mind-chatter of the inner critic.


If you are attacking people in your mind or attacking yourself in your mind you want to be conscious of it and go back to focusing on your breaths and your body.


Let a good song help you fall into your body to feel what it is you need to feel so it can pass.


Remember, the most comforting thing to know is that all CPSTD flashbacks are temporary, and we can manage flashbacks much faster by how effectively we can grieve.

Write or verbally vent in
CPTSD support groups

A safe way to express

Journaling, verbal venting (with the right person), or writing can help tremendously to outlet emotions.


If writing is one of your ways to express yourself, try taking out a journal and just writing out all of your pain or frustrations at the moment.


This is a safer way to vent our frustrations compared to trying to talk to people we are frustrated with.


Facebook actually has some strong recovery communities for people with CPTSD.


I have joined a few and they allow you to verbally vent by posting what you are going through, and many people will respond to you with uplifting comments or advice on what helped them.


One of my favorite Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder support groups is Healing Path to Complex PTSD recovery.

Final Thoughts on
Best Strains for CPTSD

The best strains for CPTSD is not so much about the strains but more about the terpenes. Relaxing your body helps us to get into the right mind set to grieve effectively. Find strains that have a higher concentration of Myrcene and Linalool.


Weed has helped me personally get through some of the toughest flash backs, and while recovery is a long-term process, having something that I know works is a huge comfort. I recommend also trying out EFT tapping and shaking meditation as both helped me out tremendously as well.

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