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Cannabis 101

What is Rick Simpson Oil?

06.28.22 - 4 min read

As the world increasingly learns to appreciate the benefits cannabis can offer, people are turning to products made from this potent plant for a vast number of uses. 

Rick Simpson Oil (or RSO) is one of these products. Named after the Canadian cannabis enthusiast that created it, Rick Simpson cannabis oil seems to promise relief from many severe symptoms and ailments. But does science back these claims? And can you benefit from this product? 

We looked into these and other questions surrounding RSO and have the answers for you. Learn the history behind this marijuana concentrate, discover what makes Rick Simpson oil so unique and find out how best to use it. 



  • Rick Simpson oil is a marijuana concentrate created by marijuana enthusiast Rick Simpson in the early 2000s. 
  • RSO is claimed to help treat cancer but there is not much evidence to back this up for now. 
  • Rick Simpson oil has higher THC content compared to other cannabis extracts. 

What is Rick Simpson Oil? 

RSO is concentrated cannabis oil created by marijuana activist Rick Simpson in the early 2000s. 

What makes this cannabis extract unique is its very high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content compared to other concentrates. The oil is a natural, unrefined product derived from cannabis plants through an ethanol-based process. 

Rick Simpson Oil is a full-spectrum extract (also known as a whole-plant extract), meaning it still contains all the cannabinoids of the plant, including THC, CBD, flavonoids, proteins, and other compounds. 

Rick Simpson himself and many testimonials from his website claim this product to cure multiple types of cancer. Nevertheless, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. 


Rick Simpson’s Inspiring Story 

In 1997 Mr. Simpson has suffered a head injury and was diagnosed with Post Concussion Syndrome. He did not find the medication prescribed to him helpful and after seeing a documentary on medical hemp use in 1998 he decided to give it a try. It proved effective for him and helped him with relaxation and sleep. He mentions that using hemp did not cure his condition but made the condition easier to live with. 

Many years later, Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. After surgically removing one of the areas that were suspected to be cancerous tumors, he decided to try treating his skin cancer with full extract cannabis oil. Simpson applied the oil directly to the tumors and covered the area with a bandage. Four days later, he claims, he removed the dressing to find the tumors had disappeared. 

Once he was fully recovered, Simpson dedicated his life to sharing his discovery with others. He began mass-producing full-extract cannabis oil for medical uses. Instead of patenting his product or his extraction method, he chooses to make these accessible to anyone who needs them. [Source] 

The Benefits of Rick Simpson Oil 

RSO has gained the interest of many as it is claimed to be an effective cancer treatment. Is this backed up by science? Let’s look into it. 

  • In 2016 a number of scientists from the United States and Egypt have combined their efforts to review all the existing research and studies on cannabinoids and cancer. They concluded that in general cannabinoids offer promise with their anti-tumor effects. 
  • A review published in 2019 suggests that cannabis can be potentially helpful in addition to other cancer treatments. 

These findings seem promising but most of them are animal trials, which means further research including more human subjects is necessary. 

In conclusion, RSO’s effects on cancer cells are yet to be researched in more detail. 

On the other hand, cannabis and cannabinoids like THC and CBD have been proven to help cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with chronic pain management, vomiting, nausea, and appetite stimulant. [Source] 


RSO vs. CBD Oil 

So, what’s the difference between RSO and regular CBD oil, you might ask. Rick Simpson Oil differs from other cannabis oils because of its high levels of THC, which is the main ingredient that contributes to an altered state in users. CBD oil can contain little to no THC. 

How is Rick Simpson oil made? 

Rick Simpson provides his method of making RSO publicly for anyone to use. The product is made by extracting cannabinoids from the plant using a solvent, followed by the removal of the solvent to produce the oil. Here’s how it’s made. 

  • Cannabis plant material is covered with alcohol in a large container and stirred within a few minutes. 
  • Then it is strained with a cheesecloth or coffee filter into a bowl, avoiding any plant material passing through.  
  • More alcohol is added to the plant material and stirred again.  
  • The second batch is also strained and the residual plant material is discarded. 
  • The remaining liquid is cooked in a well-ventilated area far from a stove or open fire, so the alcohol can evaporate. 
  • After the solvent is fully removed, the remaining oil is transferred into syringes. 

How to Use RSO? 

Rick Simpson oil offers a variety of consumption methods you can choose from. Some ways to administer it include 

  • Topical application: You can apply the oil to an area of your skin by spreading it lightly over it.
  • Ingestion: Swallow RSO in a liquid straight from the syringe, or take it in a capsule form. Capsules are your best bet if you need an exact dose, but a carefully-controlled syringe can also work.
  • Edibles: You can mix RSO into foods such as peanut butter, avocados, or yogurt. Bake it into a dish with lots of liquid ingredients, such as a cake or brownies, or mix it with a sauce and drizzle it over your food. These items are all ideal ways to mask the strong flavor, and taking it with food can help increase your body’s absorption rate. 
  • Drinking: Freeze individual doses on parchment paper, then drop them in your coffee or tea, or use it in cooking as you do with cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil. Consuming RSO results in slower but longer-lasting effects compared with other methods.
  • Smoking: Some types of RSO can be smoked or vaped, but not if it has been extracted using a flammable solvent. It’s best to get oil for smoking or vaping from a reliable supplier using other extraction methods. 

Managing the Side Effects 

THC is a psychoactive compound, meaning it can cause psychological reactions such as anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, irritability, or depression. Some physical effects can include 

  • Low blood pressure 
  • Bloodshot, inflamed eyes 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sluggish digestion of food 
  • Sleeping difficulties 
  • Impaired control of your arms and legs 
  • Slower reaction time 
  • Difficulty remembering things 

In most cases, the side effects only last for a few hours and don’t usually present any serious health risks. To avoid any unwanted side effects you need to keep an eye on the dosage of the product you’re using. 

Dosing with RSO 

The dosage of Rick Simpson Oil depends on a variety of conditions such as your state of health, medical conditions, and biometrics, among others. However, considering the high percentage of THC it contains it’s better to start low and go slow. Try beginning with the lowest possible dosage and slowly increasing it if needed. 

Consult with a licensed medical marijuana physician and speak to our RISE patient care team if you feel like you want it to develop a cannabis treatment plan that’s right for you and your needs 


The Bottom Line 

Research into RSO is still in the early stage, and in many regions, cannabis remains an illegal substance.  

These factors make it essential to discuss using medical cannabis with a primary care physician knowledgeable about THC and CBD before starting a regimen of RSO or any other new medication. 



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