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 (RSO) is a form of concentrated cannabis where the plant’s trichomes, cannabinoids & terpenes are separated from the plant using alcohol.
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?
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.
How It Works
RSO is similar to a highly purified form of 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 made by separating 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, meaning that they contain a range of 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 any naked flames) to get rid of all the alcohol and any other contaminants present in the solvent
- The result is a thick, sticky, brown-black oil that can be used as you wish, including in edible form
Please note that making RSO at home is potentially dangerous (and illegal in many places), so we do not recommend that you attempt 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:
Download Guide To Anxiety and Medical Cannabis
Generally, while dosing may be different for everyone depending on age, sex, and other physical health factors, the rule of thumb when it comes to 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 or so hours.
From there, the patient should double their dose every four or so 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. From there, you can swap your cannabis-infused product with the normal one in recipes to create RSO-infused edibles. You can even 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.
Download Free Guide to Marijuana and Insomnia
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, there are many potential drug interactions to be aware of before using RSO with any other medication. Antidepressants, opioids, and sedatives are just a few drugs that can negatively interact with Rick Simpson Oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) contain THC?
Yes, Rick Simpson Oil is exceptionally high in THC, often containing 60 percent or higher concentrations. If you are looking for products that have no THC, CBD topicals (especially those made from CBD isolate) are your best bet.
Why is RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) banned in many countries?
RSO is banned in many countries where cannabis and THC are illegal. There may also be concerns about advertising Rick Simpson Oil as a “cure” for cancer when no such cure exists. RSO may benefit some people with cancer, but it cannot legally or ethically be classified as a remedy.
Is there any evidence that Rick Simpson Oil works?
There is some evidence that RSO may be effective for certain individuals, but further research is crucial. As more federally-funded research develops on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and the overall impact of medical cannabis, we’ll get a fuller understanding of how RSO can help treat diseases, including cancer.
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.