Learn what the evidence shows about treating cancer with Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), an oil made from the flowers of the cannabis (marijuana) plant. Rick Simpson Oil is a concentrated cannabis oil known to have medical benefits. Explore everything you should know about RSO: uses, risks, benefits, & more. Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, is a highly concentrated cannabis extract with very high levels of THC, also known as THC concentrate
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) for Cancer: Does It Work?
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), an oil made from the flowers of the cannabis (marijuana) plant, gets attention online from people who claim it treats cancer. There’s no solid evidence for it. But some early research suggests that some chemicals in marijuana have future potential as a cancer treatment.
Cannabis oil comes in many types and formulations. These include cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is often part of medical marijuana.
Unlike many other cannabis oils, Rick Simpson Oil is high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana. THC is the chemical in marijuana that provides the “high.”
Online reports say Simpson is a Canadian engineer and cannabis activist. After a bad fall, he found that marijuana helped lessen his dizziness and other symptoms. Later, when he developed basal cell skin cancers on his arm, Simpson used cannabis oil as a treatment. As the reports go, his skin cancers went away.
What Is Rick Simpson Oil?
RSO is an oil made by washing cannabis buds with a solvent, such as pure light naphtha, and then boiling off the solvent leaving behind the oil.
RSO is not a branded product. That means there’s no one “Rick Simpson Oil” for sale. On his website, Simpson explains how to make his namesake oil. But he does not sell a version of the oil for profit.
Because RSO contains high levels of THC, it’s illegal to buy in many places. But in states that have legalized marijuana — either for personal use or for medical use — you can find RSO at cannabis dispensaries.
Can RSO Treat Cancer?
Cannabis oils that contain THC may help control nausea and vomiting for people who are going through chemotherapy. There’s also evidence that they can treat pain and improve appetite.
But research has not shown that RSO or other forms of cannabis oil can treat cancer. Some very early studies on using THC to treat cancer have been encouraging, though.
In animals and in the lab, studies have found that THC and other cannabis chemicals can stop the growth of tumors. These lab studies have looked at cells related to lung, skin, breast, prostate, and other cancers. They’ve found that cannabis can in some cases stop the cancer cells from spreading.
Other research on THC and other cannabis compounds shows that they may kill off cancer cells while sparing healthy cells.
Cannabis is generally safe. Common side effects include dizziness or memory problems.
Other Medical Uses of Cannabis
Many U.S. states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical use. There’s evidence that it can treat pain, nausea, and other symptoms.
When it comes to cannabis oil, there are also medical benefits. Research has shown that some CBD oils, including those that contain THC, can help control certain types of seizures among people with epilepsy. The FDA has approved some drugs that contain CBD for seizure treatment.
Karger Open Access: “The Trouble With CBD Oil.”
Iranian Journal of Psychiatry: “Chemistry, Metabolism, and Toxicology of Cannabis: Clinical Implications.”
Leafly.com: “Who is Rick Simpson and what is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?”
Cannabinoids: “Cannabis Oil: chemical evaluation of an upcoming cannabis-based medicine.”
Clinical pharmacology and therapeutics: “Cannabis in Cancer Care.”
Journal of the American Medical Association: “Medical Marijuana for Treatment of Chronic Pain and Other Medical and Psychiatric Problems: A Clinical Review.”
Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology: “A prospective open‐label trial of a CBD/THC cannabis oil in dravet syndrome.”
FDA: “FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy.”
PhoenixTears.ca: “Producing the Oil.”
Current Oncology: “Integrating cannabis into clinical cancer care.”
Pharmacotherapy: “The pharmacologic and clinical effects of medical cannabis.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”
What is Rick Simpson Oil? Your complete guide to RSO
Rick Simpson Oil, called RSO for short, is one of the most versatile and lauded cannabis innovations—an oil created by Rick Simpson, a Canadian engineer and cannabis advocate who was radicalized to cannabis activism by a work accident that led to various health issues.
The story goes that he was able to resolve his health issues with RSO, a dark, tar-like cannabis extract that straddles the line of concentrate, edible, and topical. In short: There’s very little it can’t do, and a lot it can do for both patients and stoners. Here’s everything you need to know about RSO.
What is RSO?
Put simply, RSO is an oil derived from cannabis. But rather than a solvent extract that strips trichomes from buds, RSO contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and additional compounds of the whole cannabis plant.
The extraction process is complex and fairly long, similar to making a tincture. It’s typically near-black in color, and, admittedly, doesn’t taste great due to its high amount of plant matter (it uses the whole plant).
RSO was created as a medicinal therapeutic for cancer and other chronic health conditions, like MS and asthma. While Rick Simpson no longer produces the oil himself, it remains a crucial ingredient in the treatment plans of patients across North America.
Rick Simpson’s story
Rick Simpson wasn’t looking to become a marijuana icon. He was a Canadian engineer working at a hospital in 1997, tasked to work on some asbestos-covered pipes in a boiler room. The poor ventilation and toxic fumes caused him to pass out and fall off his ladder, after which he was taken to the emergency room.
He developed tinnitus and dizzy spells soon after, and no prescribed medication seemed to help. Despite its illegality and against the advice of his doctor, Simpson began using medical marijuana with great results in reliving his symptoms.
In 2003, he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. By then, Canada had legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes, but it was hard for Simpson to find a doctor who supported his use. A 1975 study in the The Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed how cannabis and its compounds inhibited tumor growth in mice, inspiring him to create RSO.
He has always maintained that applying RSO to his cancer growth and leaving it bandaged for four days cured him of cancer, but this has not been independently verified.
Simpson began producing the oil en masse and distributing it to thousands of patients for free. In 2009, his property was raided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and thousands of cannabis plants were confiscated.
To escape legal persecution, Simpson now lives in Croatia and maintains a website for his RSO recipe, dosing guide, and books. In 2018, he suffered a stroke and has since receded from the public but continues to advocate for RSO and medical cannabis.
Benefits of RSO
Despite Rick Simpson’s near-miraculous recovery from cancer and tinnitus, cannabis’ Schedule I status means the scientific community lacks consistent research to back up these claims. As more and more states legalize adult-use cannabis, however, more data becomes available.
There have been promising reports that attest to RSO’s efficacy, such as a 2013 article showing that the use of RSO severely decreased the leukemic blast cell count in a 14-year-old terminal patient, with no toxic side effects.
Anecdotally, RSO has helped patients manage conditions such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cancer, insomnia, chronic pain, and asthma, among many others.
As an incredibly potent THC product, RSO offers potential therapeutic effects, such as pain relief and appetite stimulation, and it can aid with sleep aid and nausea. But because studies haven’t been done, we can’t guarantee that RSO will impart these benefits.
A 2021 study indicated that while many cancer patients use cannabis in conjunction with cancer treatments, their primary care teams lacked insight on how to integrate cannabis into a regimen. Clearly, much more research needs to be done on how best to use RSO to amplify treatment.
Rick Simpson Oil for cancer treatment
Rick Simpson was motivated to create RSO by his own cancer diagnosis. His recipe is based on creating a product that produced the same results as a 1975 study, which showed cannabis killing cancer cells in mice.
Simpson has said he cured his skin cancer by using RSO topically, but that it can be taken orally to address internal cancers as well. This claim has not been independently verified, but in the years since RSO was invented, thousands of patients have used it to address symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Cancer patients seeking to use RSO should always first consult their primary care doctor to discuss their options.
RSO for back pain
One of the most common uses for RSO, and cannabis in general, is chronic pain. Back pain is one of the most common forms of physical pain, with as much as 80% of people experiencing it at some point in life.
RSO recipes typically call for high-THC and indica-dominant cannabis (although CBD-rich options do exist), and the final product is highly intoxicating, hence the gradual dosage increase to prevent too strong of a high. THC binds with CB1 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, most of which are concentrated in the brain and nerve cells. When THC binds to these nerve receptors, the sensation of pain lessens.
Is RSO dangerous?
Despite its high concentration of THC, no amount of RSO will cause an overdose, death, or lasting side effects. Risks associated with taking RSO are the same as taking a high dose of any cannabis product, such as an edible, concentrate, or more of any product than one is comfortable with—namely, getting too high, and having to wait for the effects to wear off.
RSO purchased from a dispensary has been lab-tested for solvents, pesticides, mold, and fungi, so you can rest easy that you’re getting a clean product.
If you choose to make RSO at home, there are somewhat dangerous steps in its preparations, such as burning off an ethanol solvent, which is flammable. Some other solvents used can be explosive or produce fumes. It’s also possible that not all the alcohol will be separated from the oil before ingestion.
If you are ever unsure about the quality of your homemade RSO, source it from a licensed dispensary.
Where can I get Rick Simpson Oil?
Since Rick Simpson Oil contains THC, you can only find it at licensed dispensaries in states with adult-use cannabis or medical marijuana. However, not all dispensaries carry RSO, as it is not as popular, nor affordable, as other forms of cannabis.
How much does RSO cost?
Relative to a pack of gummies or an eighth of flower, RSO is expensive. Prices vary state to state and county to county based on local tax laws, but the general range for RSO is $35–70 a gram. This may seem comparable to other cannabis concentrates, but patients need 60 grams to follow the recommended RSO regimen—that’s at least $2,100!
How to use RSO
The two most common ways to consume RSO are orally and topically. Rick Simpson himself used it as a topical to cure his skin cancer, although it’s been said his physician did not condone and cannot confirm this as a cure.
How long does RSO take to work?
RSO requires weeks to acclimate to without intoxication. Results may be felt within a few days, but most report significant differences in symptoms once they have reached the one-gram-per-day threshold, which may take up to five weeks, depending on the individual.
For skin ailments
If using topically, apply a dab of RSO to the skin site and cover with a band aid or bandage to ensure absorption. Reapply every other day.
For internal conditions
The other popular way to address internal conditions, such as physical pains, immunity conditions, and other illnesses, is to ingest RSO. This requires a large amount of RSO as well as a dosing system that requires weeks to acclimate to the high doses needed for treatment (more below). We recommend speaking to a doctor or medical professional familiar with RSO to discuss what works best for you.
Our guide here is based on consuming 60 grams of RSO in 90 days, broken up into weeks, as Rick Simpson recommends on his website. Keep in mind that this hasn’t been reviewed by medical professionals.
Side effects of RSO
Following a gradually increasing regimen of RSO is your best bet for avoiding potential side effects, such as sedation or dizziness. RSO is an incredibly potent product, and some consumers may feel uncomfortable if the dose is too high.
It’s possible to negate the intoxicating effects of THC by adding CBD-rich flower to the recommended dosing guide below. Many patients attest that the effects of RSO are largely positive, mitigating pain, nausea, and sleeplessness, among other symptoms.
Can you smoke or dab RSO?
Since RSO is an oil that retains some degree of plant matter, yes it can be smoked! But squirting a dollop directly in your bong or pipe will only lead to a sticky, sappy mess.
The best way to smoke RSO is to combine it with flower, such as adding a rice grain amount to a packed bowl. It also works well in joints and blunts when added to the paper or wrap in horizontal lines. This distribution will help slow the burning of a joint or blunt and allow the RSO to heat without destroying the cannabinoids.
And technically, yes, you can dab RSO. But we recommend only dabbing an RSO purchased from a dispensary with lab test results to ensure no solvents or other potential irritants are present. Note that when RSO is made, the cannabis is decarboxylated when the solvent is burned off, so it may not be as potent as other concentrates, depending on the temperature of your dabs.
Can you cook with RSO?
Yes, you can cook with RSO. Keep in mind that cooking cannabis above 300ºF will burn off the cannabinoids and render the RSO useless. For maximum efficacy, it’s best to add RSO to meals that have already been cooked, or to parts of a meal that don’t need to be cooked, such as a sauce, dressing, or beverage.
RSO dosage chart
|Week # in regimen||Ideal dosage|
|1||Half a grain of rice (1/4 a syringe drop) every eight hours|
|2||Half a grain of rice (1/4 a syringe drop) every eight hours|
|3||Half a grain of rice (1/4 a syringe drop) every eight hours|
|4||Start doubling your dose to a full grain of rice (1/2 a syringe drop) every eight hours|
|5||Two full grains of rice (1 syringe drop) every eight hours|
|6||Four full grain of rice (2 syringe drops) every eight hours|
|7-12||By now you will be ingesting approximately a gram of RSO every day, spread across three doses, taken every eight hours. Follow syringe measurements for accurate doing.|
|Continued maintenance||Once the 90-day treatment plan is over, patients only need a gram or two a month to maintain a base level of cannabinoids. One gram is approximately eight syringe drops; we recommend taking this as a small dose daily or near-daily for efficacy.|
While Simpson recommends taking the oil orally, patients can also administer it in suppository form, using the same dosing guide.
Weeks 1-3: Three small doses every day
Start with a small dose of RSO every eight hours (morning, midday, and night). Each dose should be about the size of half a grain of rice; the first dose will be about ¼ drop of RSO from an oil syringe.
Weeks 4-5: Double your dose every four days
Per Simpson’s recommendation, it takes most patients four to five weeks to reach the full dosage of one gram of RSO per day, starting from half a grain of rice. Patients should still take their doses every eight hours.
Weeks 6-12: A gram a day
Take one gram of RSO a day until you’ve consumed a full 60 grams. This comes out to taking about 8-9 rice-sized drops of RSO every eight hours.
Once a patient has gotten used to taking a gram of RSO a day and consumed the recommended 60 grams, they don’t need to continue with such high (and expensive) doses. Simpson’s website recommends one to two grams a month to maintain an influx of cannabinoids.
How to make RSO
This recipe follows Simpson’s own formulation to produce 60 grams of oil. This should be done in an open, well-ventilated area, as the solvent is highly combustible. Avoid all open flames such as stovetops, sparks, lighters, and cigarettes.
- 1 pound (~450 grams) of dried cannabis (preferably indica strains)
- 8-9 liters of a solvent (Simpson recommends 99% isopropyl alcohol)
- Two five-gallon buckets
- Electric rice cooker (do not use a slow cooker or Crockpot)
- Large wooden spoon or stirring utensil
- Plastic syringes
- Coffee filters or a cheesecloth
- Large fan (for ventilation)
- Stainless steel measuring cup (optional)
- Coffee warmer (optional)
Place all dry cannabis material into one of the 5-gallon buckets. Pour in the solvent until the plant matter is completely submerged.
Stir and muddle the plant material with your wooden spoon while slowly adding the solvent.
Once fully incorporated, stir the mixture for about three minutes to allow the THC to dissolve into the solvent. This ideally will infuse about 80% of the THC into the solvent.
Strain the plant material from the solvent into the second bucket through the coffee filters or cheesecloth.
With the solvent aside, put the plant material back in the first bucket and add more solvent. Continue stirring for another three minutes.
Drain the solvent from the plant material into your second bucket again using the cheesecloth and discard the remaining plant material.
Pour the solvent, which should now look dark, into the rice cooker until it is about ¾ full. Turn on your rice cooker.
The rice cooker should maintain a steady temperature between 210-230°F (100-110°C), in order to decarboxylate the cannabis and cook off the solvent.
The solvent will slowly evaporate with the heat of the rice cooker. Add your mixture to the rice cooker gradually.
Once the solvent has evaporated, use the funnels to pack the oil into your syringe for easy dosing. The RSO will be thick like honey, so if you have trouble dispensing it, run the syringe under hot water to ease it.
Have you ever used RSO? How has it impacted your life? Let us know in the comments!
This article was originally published May 12, 2017 and is often updated for accuracy and clarity.
Everything you need to know about Rick Simpson Oil
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a concentrated cannabis extract with high levels of THC.
RSO rose to fame in online forums as a purported pain killer, cancer treatment, and overall “miracle cure” for a variety of ailments. While this product is of great interest to many people seeking alternative medical treatments, only anecdotal evidence supports these claims. There are no clinical studies behind RSO.
So, what exactly is Rick Simpson Oil?
Rick Simpson Oil is an ultra-concentrated crude cannabis oil. The oil is dark with a dense, thick consistency, closer to grease than oil. Rick Simpson’s website defines RSO as “extremely potent decarboxylated extract produced from strong sedative indica strains, which have THC levels in the 90% range.”
RSO is a generic, popularized term that has come to mean any crude cannabis oil that is decarboxylated and dispensed in a syringe. In reality, there is no formal definition of RSO or how it must be made to call something RSO.
While most products called RSO use some type of an alcohol extraction, there are also products on the market being made with hydrocarbon extraction as well. Even Rick Simpson’s first oils were made with an industrial blend of hydrocarbons known as naphtha, often found in paints and rubber solvents. RSO is considered a “whole-plant extract,” meaning it contains THC as well as other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and other plant molecules like waxes chlorophyll; however, RSO typically contains low terpene content due to how it is processed.
Because of this process, RSO is also typically dark green or brown, a stark contrast to the lighter colors of THC distillate and isolate. According to Mr. Simpson, true RSO should be between 90% and 95% THC, which makes it hard to find in the retail market but also challenging to extract at home.
In reality, extracts of purity exceeding 80-90% are difficult to make at home and often require advanced equipment, so it’s unlikely that any homemade product would be this potent.
Difference between RSO and FECO
Since the term RSO is a generic term often used to describe highly concentrated, crude cannabis oil often marketed to cancer patients, it comes with plenty of hype and stigma. To be more accurate, we prefer to use the term FECO (full extract cannabis oil) RSO is often used interchangeably with FECO , but these are not necessarily the same products.
FECO and RSO are essentially the same product, a crude cannabis extract often sold in a syringe. However the primary difference between the two is that FECO is almost always ethanol, whereas RSO is a more generic term and could be made using isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, hydrocarbon solvents and even CO2. In the end, there is no clear definition for these crude extracts, and each solvent will have its own unique properties that extract certain chemicals from the plant better than others.
FECO is generally considered safer than RSO because ethanol is generally safer for consumption than isopropyl alcohol or naphtha, both known for being flammable and toxic (though naphtha is worse in both regards). 1 2 3
Is RSO the same as QWISO?
QWISO, or Quick Wash ISOpropyl, is a solvent-based extraction method for making concentrates. The only difference between RSO and QWISO is the original extraction method for RSO used naphtha (hydrocarbon) instead of isopropyl. In fact, the recipe for RSO on Rick Simpson’s website is actually a QWISO recipe. If you make RSO using isopropyl alcohol, you are making a QWISO concentrate, sometimes called isopropyl hash oil QWISO hash oil.
How to make your own RSO
Important: Heating alcohol or naphtha is dangerous. These liquids are extremely flammable when heated, which can cause damage and personal injury.
- always work in a space with proper airflow
- if you choose to make RSO at home, whether you use an electric stove or a rice cooker, do not leave it unattended and do not let it get too hot
- do not, under any circumstance, use a gas stove or have an open flame near these solvents – the process of heating the RSO will produce gasses that could easily ignite if exposed to flame
Since RSO can be challenging to come by in some legal markets and nearly impossible to find in illegal markets, many people choose to make their own.
Here’s how Simpson suggests making his oil:
- 1 lb. dried cannabis. A pound of flower will yield 60 grams, which should be enough for the 90-day treatment Simpson recommends.
- This flower should be high-quality, THC-rich (>15%) cannabis.
- If desired, high-CBD flower could be used with this recipe
- note: Simpson’s original recipe calls for naphtha, but he has since been modified to use isopropyl alcohol
- If you’re not using a rice cooker, decarboxylate your cannabis.
- Crumble the cannabis and combine with one gallon of alcohol into a large bowl and mix gently. After a few minutes, the THC will be dissolved in the solvent.
- Pour the solvent through the cheesecloth and into the bucket.
- Add more isopropyl alcohol into the bowl with the plant material and mix gently.
- Again, strain the solvent through the cheesecloth into the bucket. Discard the plant material.
- Pour the infused solvent into your rice cooker and turn it to 220°F or the low setting. Allow the solvent to evaporate, keeping a close eye on it. Simpson recommends running a fan aimed at the rice cooker to prevent flammable fumes from building up and coming into contact with the heating element.
- If you aren’t using a rice cooker, your solvent will need to evaporate for significantly longer.
Health warning: Isopropyl alcohol and naphtha are recommended by Simpson, but ingestion of these liquids is dangerous. The above method does not guarantee these liquids have been wholly extracted off. Ingesting isopropyl alcohol or naphtha can result in vomiting, abdominal pain, dizziness, intestinal bleeding, and other organ damage. Take care to ensure all solvent has been evaporated.
How to use RSO
As a highly-concentrated extract, RSO shouldn’t be vaped or smoked (RSO is made with flammable extracts and smoking could be dangerous, especially if the solvent was not properly purged). Instead, you should consume it orally, sublingually, or through topical application. Since RSO is dense and sticky, you can mix the oil with a small amount of coconut oil for ease of application.
Some people create capsules with RSO to avoid the strong cannabis taste, while others add it to food and drinks. You can use RSO in cooking the same way as cannabutter or by adding it to the finished dish.
But how much should you take? On his website, Simpson suggests patients:
- Slowly increase their dosage over three months, beginning with “three doses per day,” each of them “about the size of a half a grain of short grained dry rice.”
- Double this amount every four days. Simpson says it should take the average person about five weeks to build up the tolerance to ingest a gram per day.
- The final dosing should be 1 gram or 1 ml of high-grade oil every 24 hours “once they have built up their tolerance for this medication.”
1 mL may seem low until you realize that with the potency of the product, that’s somewhere between 400 and 950 milligrams of THC every day- significantly higher than the 30mg or 40mg per day of THC recommended by researchers. 4 5
Like many of Simpson’s claims, his dosing recommendations haven’t been tested or evaluated. It’s also worth noting that Simpson’s own success story in treating cancer with RSO was with skin cancer and a topical treatment, so it’s unclear where his oral dosing recommendations come from.
The difference between RSO and CBD oil
Both CBD oil and RSO are made from cannabis, but they have more differences than similarities. RSO is a very thick and viscous, THC-rich cannabis extract. It is highly concentrated and it can be difficult to measure a dose, as it has a texture more similar to tar than an oil. CBD oil made from low-THC cannabis plants, sometimes called hemp plants. These CBD-rich plants are extracted to make CBD oil. This oil is often diluted with carrier oils for easier delivery.
RSO Diluted CBD Oil Highly concentrated extract Mixed in a carrier oil THC-rich (usually) CBD-rich Oral, sublingual, topical application Intended for sublingual and oral ingestion Intoxicating high effect Non-intoxicating Strong sedative effect Non-sedative
Which oil is best for you? That depends on your medical condition and health needs. Some people may opt to take both since CBD oil can help modulate the psychotropic effects of THC.
Who is Rick Simpson?
It’s important to note that Rick Simpson is not a doctor or a trained medical professional, and many of his claims for what RSO can do are untested and unproven. But he was an early advocate for medical cannabis in a time when most people still saw the plant as nothing more than a street drug. He championed cannabis concentrates and made the process accessible for thousands of people.
According to Simpson, his journey began in 1997 when he was exposed to toxic fumes, fell off a ladder, and was knocked unconscious while working as an engineer in a Canadian hospital. He recovered but was left with lasting health issues including dizzy spells and tinnitus. He received prescription medications which only made his struggles worse.
A documentary on medical marijuana inspired Simpson to begin smoking cannabis, despite his doctor’s dismissal of the plant. He noticed some of his issues cleared up, like the ringing in his ears.
Then, in 2003, Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer: basal cell carcinoma. His fondness for cannabis led him down a rabbit hole of research. A decades-old study from the National Cancer Institute’s scientific journal on THC reducing tumors in mice gave him a lightbulb moment. He wondered if topical cannabis applied to his cancerous lesions would have the same effect.
Simpson made the first version of what would become RSO, applied it to band-aids, and put the band-aids on his lesions. He says that four days later, all signs of cancer were gone.
His initial success led him to experiment with the recipe using different strains of cannabis, extraction methods, and solvents. After trial and error, Simpson settled on a highly purified crude oil that was well-suited to both oral and topical use, and the rest is history.
Can Rick Simpson Oil treat cancer?
There are no clinical studies or trials on RSO treating cancer. This makes it difficult to judge the true efficacy of the oil, though there is substantial anecdotal evidence from people who have used RSO and say it put their cancer in remission.
The driving ideology behind RSO is to kill cancer cells through exposure to ultra-high doses of THC. But does science support this theory?
Research in this area is limited, as most studies approach the potential of cannabis in respect to cancer through symptom management but it is a rapidly growing body of research. It is thought that, just like most cells in the body, cancers often have their own micro-endocannabinoid system, which may respond positively to the introduction of phytocannabinoids
- A 1975 study on the anti-cancer activity of cannabinoids on Lewis lung tumor growths in mice found: 6
- Delta9-THC demonstrated a dose-dependent action of inhibiting tumor growth
- Delta8-THC and CBN reduced tumor sizes
- Delta9-THC, Delta8-THC, and CBN increased mean survival time in mice
- A 2016 study noted that an increasing body of preclinical in vitro studies and animal-models supports a possible direct anticancer effect of cannabinoids” and noted that anecdotal evidence suggests a high-potency oral concentrate is particularly effective. 7
- A 2020 review stated that several studies have demonstrated the anticancer potential of cannabinoids, including D9-THC, against multiple forms of cancer. The mechanism of actions included inhibition of cell growth and the progression of the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis (programmed cell death), modification of signaling molecules, inhibition of angiogenesis, and reduction of metastasis. 8
While cannabis has a relatively clear role in treating the side effects of chemotherapy, a great deal of clinical research is still needed before RSO can be called a potential treatment of cancer itself.
Other potential benefits of Rick Simpson Oil
Patient testimonials indicate that RSO may also:
- Lower blood pressure (an established, typically acute effect of THC)
- Reduce the need for exogenous insulin in people with diabetes (the ECS is connected to our insulin system)
- Protect people with diabetes from downstream problems like neurological damage (many cannabinoids have been linked to neuroprotection)
- Reduce pain from cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and other sources of inflammation (Common uses for medical cannabis)
None of these claims have been scientifically tested, and all evidence is anecdotal, but they make sense given what we know about the health effects of traditional cannabis.
Potential side effects of Rick Simpson Oil
RSO is an extremely concentrated form of cannabis and the most common side effect is extreme sedation. Dosing can be difficult because of how thick and viscous the RSO is, even a small amount more of THC-rich RSO could cause a strong high and sedation. This sedation can make RSO treatments problematic for people who need to drive, operate heavy machinery, or care for children during the day.
Additionally, RSO is not free from the other side effects of THC consumption, including red eyes, dry mouth, memory loss, paranoia, anxiety, and low blood pressure. Taking a CBD oil may help counteract some of these side effects, but you should always consult your doctor or pharmacist before starting an RSO regimen.
Where to buy Rick Simpson Oil
Rick Simpson himself does not sell RSO oil, making finding a trustworthy oil challenging. There are high-THC concentrates and oils for sale in legal markets, but few have the same THC levels recommended by Simpson.
Some companies offer products consisting of 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC under the name Rick Simpson Oil which, while not true RSO according to Simpson’s own definition, may still offer many benefits. If you are going to buy RSO online, make sure it is from a reputable company and ask for an up-to-date certificate of analysis.