Have you ever heard of Rick Simpson Oil? Created by Canadian engineer Rick Simpson, RSO has been created for medical patients and stoners. Rick Simpson is a longtime cannabis advocate inspired by cannabis activism, spurred by his own various health issues. RSO has been created to help with many health issues. This cannabis compound is not a concentrate, not an edible, not a topical, but something in between. It’s an innovative medicinal recipe made from natural indica that can help reduce pain, treat illnesses and cure cancer.

So, What Is RSO?

RSO is an oil derived from cannabis. It contains cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds created from the whole cannabis plant that doesn’t strip trichomes from buds like a solvent extract. The process for making RSO is like that of a tincture—the product becomes nearly black, and due to the high concentration of plant matter it doesn’t taste very good.

RSO was crafted to treat chronic health conditions such as asthma, pain, and even cancer. It’s a therapeutic treatment oil and a crucial ingredient in the treatment of many patients worldwide. While Rick Simpson doesn’t make the oil himself anymore, his legacy lives on in the incredible healing abilities of RSO.

Who Is Rick Simpson?

The circumstances that led to the birth of RSO were born of necessity. Rick Simpson, a Canadian engineer working in a hospital back in 1997, was working on some pipes in a boiler room. The pipes were covered in asbestos, and the subpar ventilation and toxic fumes caused him to lose consciousness, fall from his ladder, and end up in the emergency room.

After this episode, Rick Simpson developed many health problems. He was afflicted with tinnitus and dizzy spells, and no medication could help. Simpson began using medical cannabis to help fix his symptoms, and to his surprise, it was the only thing that worked—even when his doctor advised against it.

It didn’t end there. In 2003 Mr. Simpson was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma. Canada had then legalized the use of cannabis for medical patients, but Simpson still had to find a doctor that would support its use. Simpson was inspired to create RSO after reading about a 1975 study in which cannabis actually prevented the growth of tumors in rodents. If it could work for mice, it could work for people. While RSO’s treatment of cancer has never been independently verified, Simpson claims that it helped rid him of the disease.

RSO entered mass production back in 2009, and has been distributed to thousands of patients free of charge. Simpson’s property was raided that same year by the RCMP, leaving thousands of cannabis plants confiscated and his way forward murky. To avoid trouble with the law, Simpson moved to Croatia where he maintains his RSO recipe. While Mr. Simpson receded from the public eye in 2018 after a stroke, he continues to advocate strongly for the use of medical cannabis, especially RSO.

Rick Simpson Oil vs Cannabis Oil

Cannabis oil is the infusion of cannabis into oil, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or MCT oil. RSO is an oily concentrate of indica THC, made by separating the plant’s natural cannabinoids from the plant material using a solvent. RSO is much harsher than other cannabis concentrates.

RSO and cannabis oil are both full-spectrum, which means they contain a range of the chemical compounds found in cannabis, such as THC and CBD. RSO also has higher levels of THC compared to regular cannabis oil and can be more psychoactive. The THC concentrations in RSO are much higher and much more potent than in traditional cannabis oils.

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What Are The Health Benefits Of RSO?

There are many promising benefits to RSO—Rick Simpson’s miraculous recovery from cancer notwithstanding—but RSO’s scientific benefit remains to be seen. Its status among the community is that it lacks the consistent research necessary to fully back Mr. Simpson’s claims—part of this is due to the fact that few states in North America have legalized adult-use cannabis. As cannabis becomes more available and legal, more data becomes available. 

RSO’s efficacy has been promising for years. In 2013, an article showed that the use of RSO severely decreased the cell count of leukemia in a terminal patient, and had none of the typically toxic side effects. RSO has also helped many patients manage conditions such as chronic pain, asthma, cancer, insomnia, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and more. It has important pain-fighting effects and has saved the lives of thousands of people.

RSO is an incredibly potent product of THC, with multiple therapeutic effects. RSO can be used as an appetite stimulant and a pain mitigator, as well as a sleep aid. It can also be used to cure nausea in a patient. While proper studies have not been done, RSO’s benefits cannot be scientifically guaranteed. The observation of its benefits have been by the patients themselves.

In 2021, a study indicated that primary care teams lacked insight on how to integrate cannabis use into proper treatment. While many cancer patients do use cannabis in conjunction with their treatments, not enough care teams integrate cannabis properly. More research needs to be done to see how RSO can be used to amplify treatment, which will only occur as the medical industry loosens its strict opinion on cannabis use.

What Are Other Benefits Of RSO?

The major claim around RSO is that it treats cancer, and Simpson treated his own cancer with RSO back in 2003. Since RSO is made from concentrated indica cannabis, it produces a special sedative effect that helps the body heal and promotes natural healing.

Aside from treating cancer, RSO can be used to treat arthritis, inflammation, infections, high blood pressure, depression, insomnia, MS, and more. It can be used to treat mild and severe symptoms, at the discretion of your doctor or medical advisor. 

Based on the original 1975 study that inspired Simpson, THC and CBN (cannabinol) has been shown to slow the growth of lung cancer, and can inhibit cancer growth. A 2014 study on mice showed the results of THC and CBD alongside radiation therapy. This study showed that the effectiveness of THC might better prepare cancer cells to respond to radiation therapy.

RSO Cancer Treatment

Rick Simpson’s own cancer diagnosis served as the motivator for the creation of RSO. His patented recipe is created based on the results of the 1975 study that inspired him, the one that showed cannabis killing cancer cells in rodents. While Simpson claims he cured his skin cancer by taking RSO topically, it can also be used orally to address internal cancers. While these claims are not independently verified, RSO has been used by thousands of patients to directly address symptoms, mitigate pain, and improve their lives.

Any cancer patients wishing to use RSO in their treatment should first consult their primary care doctor and discuss their options. RSO might not be the correct treatment option in some cases.
RSO Back Pain Treatment
RSO’s most common use is to treat chronic pain. The treatment of pain is the most common use of medical cannabis, and back pain is one of the most common forms of physical pain in adults. Around 80% of working adults experience back pain at some point in their life. 

The recipe for RSO calls for cannabis strains that are high in THC and indica-dominent, though CBD-rich options also exist. The final product is very intoxicating and demands the use of gradual dosage increases. THC binds to the CB1 pain receptors of the endocannabinoid system—most of these are located in the brain and nerve cells. THC binds to these nerve receptors and lessens the sensation of pain. Since RSO is such a concentrated and targeted recipe, it can greatly reduce pain for many people.

Is RSO Safe To Use?

RSO has a high concentration of THC to help with its curative properties, but no amount of RSO can ever cause an overdose or lasting side effects. There are risks associated with taking RSO, but they are the same as taking a higher dose of any cannabis product. No one should ever take a higher dose than what they are comfortable with, whether that’s RSO, an edible, a concentrate, or anything else. RSO purchased directly from a dispensary has already been lab-tested for pesticides, solvents, and other impurities, and you can rest assured you’re always purchasing a clean and safe product.

If you decide to make RSO at home using Mr. Simpson’s recipe, know that there are a few dangerous steps in its preparations, including burning off the ethanol solvent. Solvents can be dangerous in the wrong hands, as they are explosive and fume-producing. Also, an inexperienced person may not separate all the alcohol from the oil before ingestion. If you’re unsure about the quality of homemade RSO, you should purchase it from a trusted and licensed dispensary. There’s no reason you should be taking a chance on an inferior product. 

Rick Simpson Oil: The Details

Rick Simpson oil is high in THC, which means you can only purchase it at licensed dispensaries in states where cannabis is legalized. Not all dispensaries carry RSO, and there’s a chance your local dispensary has never heard of it. In some areas, it may not be as popular or affordable as other forms of cannabis, such as dabs or edibles.

Is RSO Expensive?

RSO is somewhat expensive, relative to other cannabis products such as edibles, gummies, or flower. While prices can vary state to state—based on local tax laws—the general range for RSO is between $35 and $70 a gram. While this might sound comparable to other cannabis concentrates, such as dabs, many patients need 60 grams or more to follow their recommended regimen and heal their pain. This can be upwards of $2,000.

Does RSO Work? How Do I Use It?

RSO is most commonly used topically and orally. Rick Simpson swears by its topical uses, even when his physician did not confirm or condone its use as a cure. Patients may need to use RSO differently depending on their needs and situation, and it can take weeks to acclimate to RSO without intoxication. Results can be felt in as little as a few days, though most patients noticed significant differences in their symptoms and a reduction of serious pain after reaching the gram per day threshold. This can take up to five weeks or more, depending on the patient. 

For skin ailments, you simply dab some RSO to the skin site itself and cover it with a bandage to ensure proper absorption. Reapply as needed, typically every other day as the patient acclimates to the dosage. 

For internal conditions and ailments, RSO should be ingested. Physical pains, immune system conditions, and other illness calls for the oral use of RSO. This use of RSO requires a much higher dosage and can take weeks to acclimate to the higher doses needed for proper treatment. You should always consult your doctor or other medical professionals to figure out what works for you, and if an RSO treatment plan will benefit your condition.

Does RSO Have Any Side Effects?

There are side effects to increasing the dosage of any cannabis product, such as dizziness, sedation, or nausea. Since RSO is very potent, some consumers may feel uncomfortable with the higher dosages, which is why the dosage needs to be increased gradually.

Any intoxicating effects of RSO can be negated by adding CBD-rich flower, and many patients who take RSO might prefer CBD recipes to THC. Most patients that use RSO have largely positive responses, such as pain mitigation, reduced nausea, sound sleep, and more.

Since THC is a psychoactive substance, it can produce a range of psychological symptoms. These can include paranoia, anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, depression, and irritability. There are also potential physical side effects, such as lowered blood pressure, dizziness, slower digestion, sleeping issues, impaired motor control, impaired reaction time, impaired memory, etc. However, most side effects of THC only last for a few hours and show no permanent risks.

RSO’s biggest risk is in its effectiveness, as there is not enough scientific evidence to support some of its claims. This can be dangerous if a person dismisses their doctor’s recommended cancer treatment in favor of RSO. If RSO doesn’t work, cancer can become harder to treat. RSO should be used in conjunction with cancer treatments at the discernment of a trusted medical professional.

There are also risks with making your own RSO. Creating RSO at home requires a large amount of cannabis, illegal in many states. Also, the process to create RSO at home carries its own risk. It’s best to leave treatment up to your doctor and to purchase RSO from a trusted dispensary that has tested it for impurities.

Can You Smoke Or Dab RSO?

RSO can be smoked because the oil retains some of its plant matter even after the concentration process. Still, you shouldn’t use some directly in your bong or pipe since RSO is sticky and sappy. If you want to smoke RSO, the best way to do it is to combine it with a bit of flower. Add the tiniest amount to a packed bowl, or roll it up in a joint or blunt. Adding RSO to a joint will also allow the RSO to heat up without destroying its cannabinoids, and can add another layer of soothing effect to your high.

A Brief History Of Cannabis Extracts

Where do dabs come from? Cannabis extracts have a long history, and dabs distributed by a dispensary are much safer than the kind you can get anywhere else. If you’re going to dab RSO, ensure that you purchase it from a dispensary that can show you lab test results that don’t contain solvents or irritants. When RSO is made, the solvent is burned off and the cannabis is decarboxylated. While RSO might not be quite as potent as other concentrates, it depends on the temperature of your dab rig.

Cannabis plants are indigenous to Central Asia and India, possibly one of the earliest plants to ever be cultivated by humans. RSO is part of a long history of cannabis oil and cannabis cancentration, going all the way back to pre-history.

Humans have been consuming cannabis as far back as 10,000 years ago. Around 8,000 B.C.E, cannabis was cultivated in Japan for both fiber and food—and also as a psychoactive material. It’s likely that in this era someone discovered that cannabis could be used for pain relief. It’s also been long used as a ritualistic and psychoactive agent in Judaistic practices and was used in China. Chinese people were using cannabis as medicine as early as 2737 B.C.E., with cannabis-infused teas. It was also used as an aromatic by Assyrians—their word qunabu might be the origin word for cannabis.

In ancient Greece, people burned cannabis flowers for their fragrance in both recreational and ritual purposes. In the Middle Ages, cannabis was introduced to Iraq and hashish was introduced to Egypt. Smoking pipes from this era have been recovered with traces of cannabis. After the turn of the Common Era, American settlers observed local indigenous groups growing hemp and cannabis plants. Hemp became a popular crop on plantations, and around the 19th-century cannabis became widely used as a medicinal drug compound.

Cannabis as a recreational drug has a shorter history than its use as a medicinal component. Sticky oils were made in the late 1800s, and modern-day extraction used vegetable oil as a solvent. The hash was dissolved or infused into an edible, and other solvents were used in home extraction. While it would be some time until the word “cannabinoid” became widely used, early medicinal cannabis extracts were used as pain relief, illness treatment, and anesthesia. 

The golden age of cannabis didn’t come about until the 1960s, and exploded into the counterculture. In the modern day, concentrated cannabis extracts—dabs—gained extreme popularity and have only recently been legalized in a few North American states. The renewal of cannabis as medicine came about in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, and to provide cancer patients with relief. It was during this time period that the study that influenced Rick Simpson to make RSO was performed. Since then, cannabis concentrations have gained popularity for medicinal and recreational purposes. As you can see, RSO is part of a proud (and lengthy) tradition of cannabis extracts, celebrated for its pain-relieving and curative properties.

Can I Cook With RSO?

You can cook with RSO! If you cook with cannabis above 300ºF, you run the risk of burning off cannabinoids. This will render the RSO useless, so for best efficacy, it’s important to add RSO to meals that have already been cooked. You can also add RSO to sauces, dressings, or beverages, or use it to make compound butter. 

RSO Dosage Regimen

In order to build up a tolerance for RSO, you need to take a specific amount over a number of weeks. The ideal dosage changes perceptibly by week four, when you should start feeling major pain relief. 

Week 1: ¼ syringe drop every 8hours.
Week 2: ¼ syringe drop every 8 hours.
Week 3: ¼ syringe drop every 8 hours.
Week 4: Double your dose to ½ syringe drop every 8 hours.
Week 5: 1 full syringe drop every 8 hours.
Week 6: 2 syringe drops every 8 hours.
Weeks 7+: A full gram of RSO daily, across 3 doses, taken every eight hours.

After the 90-day treatment plan, patients need only a gram of RSO a month to maintain their base level of cannabinoids and retain tolerance. A single gram is roughly 8 syringe drops—this dose can be taken daily or every other day for the best effect.

RSO can also be taken as a suppository, following the same dosage guide (instead of taking it orally).

How To Make RSO At Home

This is the RSO recipe based on Mr. Simpson’s own formula. It produces 60 grams of RSO. You should always make RSO in a well-ventilated area since the solvent is highly combustible. When making RSO, avoid all open flames such as lighters, cigarettes, and stovetops.

Ingredients For RSO

450g of dried indica cannabis
9 liters of 99% isopropyl alcohol

Two 5-gallon buckets
Electric rice cooker (Not a slow cooker)
Large wooden stirring utensil
Plastic syringes
Large fan for ventilation
Stainless steel measuring cup
Coffee warmer

RSO Steps

1. Place all the dry cannabis into a single 5-gallon bucket. Pour in the isopropyl alcohol until the plant matter is completely submerged. Stir/muddle the plant material while slowly adding the solvent.

2. Once the alcohol is fully incorporated into the plant matter, stir this mixture for about 3 minutes, allowing the THC to dissolve. This will infuse about 80% of the THC into the mixture.

3. Strain the material from the solvent into the second 5-gallon bucket, using the cheesecloth.

4. Put the plant material back into the first bucket, and add more alcohol solvent. Stir for another 3 minutes.

5.Drain the solvent from the material back into the second bucket using the cheesecloth, then discard the remaining cannabis plant material.

6. Pour the darkened solvent into your rice cooker until it’s about ¾ full. Turn on your rice cooker and maintain a steady temperature of between 210-230°F in order t cook off the solvent and decarboxylate the cannabis without losing any THC.

7. In the heat of the rice cooker, the solvent will slowly evaporate. Add your mixture to the rice cooker slowly.

8. When the solvent has evaporated completely, use your funnels to pack the oil into a syringe for easy dosing. RSO’s viscosity will be like honey, and you might have trouble dispensing it. Run the syringe under hot water to make it easier to dispense.

Rick Simpson Oil, A Summary

As you’ve gathered, RSO has many benefits. It can treat cancer, it is a major pain reliever, and when used properly it can treat a variety of illnesses. Cannabis has historically been used as a medicine, and RSO concentrates the benefits of indica and THC to create a product that can be helpful for many people. Still, you should still use the same caution when imbibing RSO that you would use with any other cannabis. You should also only use RSO as a treatment under the advisement of your doctor, and you should never use RSO as a replacement cancer treatment if your medical professional says otherwise.

There is some promising research about RSO, but experts are still not conclusive about the full science that surrounds cannabis. Cannabinoids and strains can work to treat illnesses and pain, but in some cases, THC has been observed to increase the growth of cancer. RSO will affect everyone differently, and you should always talk to your doctor ahead of use.