Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a highly potent, viscous, dark-brown/black oil. RSO results from stripping the cannabis plant’s trichomes, which are rich in therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes. The final product is a powerhouse of healing compounds, including potent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Created by a Canadian scientist named Rick Simpson, RSO originally helped its namesake treat an aggressive form of skin cancer. Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma and delved into research on the impact of THC on cancer cells. From there, he created a cannabis oil that he applied to his skin. After only four days, his cancerous cells were reportedly gone.
Sold on the healing effects of medical marijuana, Simpson cultivated his own cannabis, harvested his own plants, and created more cannabis-infused oil, known today as RSO. Learn about how RSO works and how to use RSO as a natural wellness supplement.
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How It Works
RSO is similar to a highly purified hashish, where a plant’s resin and trichomes are separated from the plant itself to create a cannabinoid-concentrated product. The theory is that the potent mix of highly concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes can help treat conditions like cancer by effectively “soaking” the body’s cells with cannabinoids, meaning that the oil can help fight cancerous cells throughout the body.
There are significant differences between Rick Simpson Oil and regular cannabis oil.
Rick Simpson Oil vs. Cannabis Oil: Differences and Similarities
Cannabis oil usually refers to the infusion of cannabis into an oil, typically olive, coconut, or MCT oil. In contrast, RSO is an oily concentrate that separates the plant’s cannabinoids from the plant material. RSO is, therefore, more similar to hash or other cannabis concentrates.
One similarity between RSO and cannabis oil is that both products are full-spectrum, containing various chemical compounds, including psychoactive THC. RSO usually has higher levels of THC than ordinary cannabis oil, and the dense THC concentrations of RSO make the product more potent than most cannabis oils.
How to Make Rick Simpson Oil
The process of making RSO involves:
- Mixing highly purified alcohol with cannabis to create a solvent.
- Straining the solvent to get rid of extra plant material.
- Heating the solvent (avoiding naked flames) to get rid of all the alcohol and other contaminants present in the solvent.
- The result is a thick, sticky, brown-black oil that can be used as you wish, including in the edible form.
Please note that making RSO at home is potentially dangerous (and illegal in many places), so we do not recommend attempting the process.
Benefits and Uses
While modern research has shown that RSO is effective in fighting cancer in conjunction with other therapies, RSO can also treat a laundry list of other conditions. Some of the ailments RSO has also been shown to be effective with include:
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Some types of infection, such as MRSA
- High blood pressure
Generally, while dosing may differ for everyone depending on age, sex, and other physical health factors, the rule of thumb regarding RSO is 60 grams over 90 days. Patients should start with three doses a day of only a tiny drop (equivalent to a grain of rice) applied either topically or ingested in some way every eight hours.
From there, the patient should double their dose every four days. Then, after about five weeks, the patient should up their dose to a gram of oil per day until using all 60 grams. This is the treatment usually recommended for those who have cancer. While some anecdotal evidence shows that this dosing regime works, others may benefit from different dosages and ingestion methods.
If you’re going to smoke or vape RSO instead of ingesting or using it topically, you need to ensure that particular oil is right. Always check with your budtender at the dispensary you’re buying from, and, of course, if you’re making it yourself, make sure to burn off the alcohol entirely before smoking it. However, we at Leafwell do not recommend this ingestion method, as the results can be dangerous and combustible.
If you’re cooking with RSO, one popular staple is a cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil. You can swap your cannabis-infused product with the normal one in recipes to create RSO-infused edibles. Mix the oil into sauces, dips, salad dressings, and beverages.
But remember: start low and go slow. Cannabis edibles, especially those made with RSO, can be extraordinarily potent, so use less than you think you need.
Potential Risks and Interactions
Rick Simpson Oil carries the same risks as any THC product, but perhaps even more so as RSO is generally higher in the intoxicating cannabinoid. The risks and side effects of THC include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Mood swings
- Accelerated heart rate
- Coordination problems
- Red eyes
- Delayed reaction times
Avoid driving or operating machinery when using RSO and other THC products. Seek medical attention if you experience moderate or severe side effects from using Rick Simpson Oil.
Furthermore, many potential drug interactions exist when using RSO with other medications. Antidepressants, opioids, and sedatives are just a few drugs that can negatively interact with Rick Simpson Oil.
Use Rick Simpson Oil and other THC cannabis products legally with a medical marijuana card. The doctors at Leafwell are here to meet with you online and get you started on your application.