Cannabis and Grief: Can weed help heal your heart?
Updated: Sep 21
Grief comes in many forms: the death of a loved one, the heartache of a breakup, the dismantling of a friendship, or a global pandemic that changes life as you know it. Grieving is a process and not a linear one. Our brains are trying to process stress, which can cause our neurochemistry to become imbalanced. This imbalance, consequently, affects how we behave.
Grief can cause different physical responses to the body, such as headaches, nausea, physical and mental exhaustion, chest pains, anxiety attacks, and stomach aches. These ailments that it causes, can be relieved by cannabis. But is cannabis a remedy for everyone’s grief?
Processing grief with cannabis
A few years ago, in the span of 6 months, I was bombarded with loss and rapid change. I unexpectedly lost a close relative, and my long term relationship ended, all while I was finishing my last year of college. My life completely shifted, and I felt lost. The simplest tasks became daunting. Getting out of bed in the morning took me hours.
When I did find the energy to rise, I would make a cup of coffee and smoke a little bowl of ganja. When the high came over me, I was able to stop overthinking. My body would relax and unclench.
Scientists have proven that our bodies naturally respond to the chemical components found in cannabis. In the ’90s, scientists discovered that our bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). Research shows that cannabis directly affects our ECS. It plays a role in functions, including sleep, mood, and appetite.
Cannabinoids and terpenes provide relief.
Cannabis is composed of cannabinoids. The two most known cannabinoids are THC and CBD. Both cannabinoids ease nausea, insomnia, anxiety, inflammation, depression, and pain.
Beyond cannabinoids, each cannabis strain has a distinct terpene profile. Terpenes are what give each mary jane strain its unique smell. These individual profiles work together with the ECS to provide each user their own experiences when high. You may discover certain strains uplift you, and other strains induce anxiety. Everyone’s experience is diverse. Our endocannabinoid system connects differently to specific cannabinoids and particular terpene profiles.
For me, Alien OG was the strain I often consumed during my grieving. It is a high THC strain with the terp profile of myrcene, caryophyllene, and limonene. Myrcene is a sedative; it aids in sleep, provides a calming effect, and is a muscle relaxant. Caryophyllene can relieve stress, anxiety, and pain. Limonene is a mood lifter; it increases serotonin and dopamine.
It is best to start with strains that have a terpene profile you desire. A good rule of thumb is, “the nose knows,” Try starting with strains that smell the best to you.
Cannabis is not the cure-all.
Cannabis can provide relief from distress. However, it is essential to remember that healing your heart goes beyond sparking up a joint or two throughout the day. Cannabis should not be a replacement for regular mental health care and a licensed physician’s help. I found that cannabis, paired with yoga, mediation, journaling, and good ol’ therapy, helped me get through the process.
While the research regarding cannabis and grief is still in its infancy, some studies show that cannabis can have adverse side effects for grieving people. Heavy indicas may make depression worse, and sativas might trigger anxiety.
My best budtender advice to you is to start slow. Buy yourself a gram or two of some different strains and see how they make you feel. Maybe you can start with just CBD? Keep a journal to document your process. Adjust accordingly. Before you go to a dispensary, check out their menu and look up the terpene profiles of different strains.
I know your heart may be hurting, and I’m with you. I hope you find a strain that helps you heal.
Written by: Rebecca Victoria @thatcannabiswriter