A strong, unprocessed cannabis oil extracted using ethanol and called after the man who invented it and was the first to benefit from it. Rick Simpson, a Canadian, says that a proprietary blend of cannabis oil, dubbed Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) or Phoenix Tears (the name of Rick’s website), treated his own skin cancer. Since then, he has promoted the benefits of medical marijuana and has given away free samples of his eponymous oil.
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Who is Rick Simpson and why did he create RSO?
Rick Simpson, a Canadian, was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, in 2003. He read a paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shortly after his cancer diagnosis that indicated THC might kill cancer cells in mice. Simpson had been using medical cannabis to cure tinnitus and dizzy spells induced by a fall and striking his head several years before, so he decided to try using cannabis oil to treat his skin cancer.
Simpson claims he produced a homemade extract, placed it directly to the malignant moles, and then covered them with a bandage. He removed the bandages four days later and declared the growths were gone.
Simpson then began growing and cultivating his own cannabis to perfect a custom oil blend, and, after health and government groups like the Canadian Cancer Society ignored his discovery, he set out to promote the medicinal effects of cannabis to others. He created a YouTube documentary, “Run From the Cure,” and wrote a book, “The Rick Simpson Story.”
Until 2009, when he was ordered to stop for legal reasons, he gave away his oil — dubbed Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO — for free. Since 2013, Simpson has lived in Europe, and, according to his website, he cannot legally enter the U.S. due to the criminal background he received from the Canadian government.
How to use RSO
Simpson has dosage instructions on his site, but keep in mind they have not been vetted by medical researchers. Dosages vary from person to person depending on many factors, including the potency of the RSO.
The creator suggests that people start by taking a dose that is half the size of short-grain dry rice three times daily. He then recommends doubling the dosage after every four days for five weeks, slowly building up a tolerance to muddle the effects of the THC. For the remainder of the 12-week treatment period, keep the dosage at a full gram. Simpson also notes that the effects of the oil may not be felt until an hour after ingestion.
RSO is typically not smoked. It is applied in the following ways:
- As a topical rubbed onto the surface of the skin
- As a sublingual with drops under the tongue; this has the fastest absorption rate
- As a capsule taken orally; this has the slowest-acting effects, but the effects would last longer
The difference between RSO and CBD Oil
CBD oil derived from industrial hemp plants only contain CBD, while Rick Simpson Oil has a high concentration of THC — at least 20% — and the full range of cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It’s also important to distinguish RSO from other products labeled as hemp oil and hempseed oil, as these products often don’t contain any CBD or THC.
Dr. Ethan Russo, a physician and researcher, discovered in 2011 that when CBD is mixed with other cannabinoids, the medical effects of CBD are enhanced. The entourage effect, which represents the amplified effect of dispersed cannabis components when combined, is a well-known phenomena. Simpson claims that his oils contain 2% to 6% CBD, but he emphasizes that the THC content of the oil must be substantial in order to treat cancer.
Although it is commonly assumed that CBD oil is exclusively for epileptic patients and RSO oil is just for cancer patients, early research has shown that CBD has cancer-inhibiting effects in specific types of tumors, according to the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Because cannabis is illegal in many countries, research into the full effectiveness and side effects of cannabinoids in cancer treatment is still in its early stages.
That said, keep in mind that RSO is highly intoxicating because of the THC content. In other words, it’ll get you high while CBD won’t.
Rick Simpson Oil benefits
There remains a need for more research to support the purported effectiveness of RSO and other cannabinoid-based concoctions for cancer treatment – let alone other medical conditions. But there are already indicators that cannabis could be a powerful tool in combating cancer and the detrimental side effects of its treatment. In a 2014 study that examined the effects of THC and CBD extracts alongside radiation therapy in lab mice induced with brain cancer, researchers found that cannabis increased the effectiveness of radiation treatment.
THC and CBD extracts were tested alongside radiation therapy on rats in a 2014 study. The cannabis extracts appeared to boost the effectiveness of radiation treatment for a particularly aggressive kind of brain cancer. These findings show that THC and CBD may help cancer cells respond better to radiation therapy, according to the study’s authors.
A 2013 case report on a 14-year-old girl with an aggressive form of leukemia examined the effectiveness of various cannabinoid resin extracts, one of which was prepared with the help of Simpson and his organization, Phoenix Tears. While various concentrations of THC and CBD appeared to be effective in treating her cancer, the patient died from an unrelated gastrointestinal condition after two months of treatment, ultimately making the long-term effectiveness of cannabis for cancer treatment inconclusive.
Cannabinoids’ anticancer qualities have been well-documented in peer-reviewed research in cell lines and animal models generated with cancer over the years, but more study is needed to confirm efficacy and safety in clinical trials involving human patients.
Existing evidence also shows how the combination of THC and CBD causes a synergy that leads to various therapeutic benefits, according to research on the joint effects of THC and CBD. CBD, for example, has been proven to serve as an antipsychotic drug, lowering the negative side effects of THC when used simultaneously.
Is RSO considered a full spectrum cannabis oil?
Full Spectrum Cannabis Oil (FSCO), sometimes referred to as Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO), is a term used for cannabis oil products that capture the full range of bioactive compounds created within the plant’s glandular trichomes without altering their composition in the process.
This includes flavonoids, phenols, fatty acids, and, most importantly, a variety of terpenes and cannabinoids in their natural acid form.
While the RSO extraction procedure may extract a wide spectrum of chemicals, removing the solvent from the solution necessitates the use of heat. Decarboxylation is the process by which heat converts cannabis from their acid state to their neutral, or activated, form (i.e. THCA decarboxylates into THC and CBDA into CBD). Most of the terpenes that were initially extracted are volatilized by the heat, leaving an oil that may not include all of the beneficial components that were present in the plant’s trichome glands.
DISCLAIMER: Production of cannabis oils such as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is illegal in many jurisdictions. Additionally, producing the oil also involves volatile compounds that are dangerous to work with in the hands of inexperienced technicians with improper equipment and ill-equipped facilities. The methods described may prove dangerous or illegal. Any action you take upon the information provided here is strictly at your own risk.