Who is Rick Simpson and what is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?
Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, is a cannabis concentrate used for many different medical benefits, including relieving cancer symptoms. It has a thick, syrupy consistency and can be applied as a topical or ingested in food or drinks.
In this article we’ll go over who Rick Simpson is and why he created this oil, how it’s used, how to make your own RSO at home, and whether or not you can smoke it.
What is RSO?
Rick Simpson. (Courtesy of Rick Simpson)
In 2003, Rick Simpson created a cannabis oil after three suspicious bumps on his arm turned out to be basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. Simpson had used cannabis to treat medical issues in the past, so he made a cannabis oil to treat his skin cancer topically, applying it to a bandage and covering the cancerous spots.
Within days, the cancerous growths disappeared. Although his physician refused to acknowledge cannabis as a treatment alternative, Simpson became a true believer in the medicinal powers of cannabis and spread the word of his cannabis oil, later called RSO after him.
Benefits of RSO
It’s important to note that there are currently no scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of RSO. However, it is mainly used to help treat skin cancer, and many people report that it helps relieve symptoms of other conditions.
Compared to other forms of cannabis, RSO is great because it’s easy to make, it’s discrete and odorless, and can be taken orally on its own, or mixed with any food.
How to use RSO
For medical patients, it is always recommended to consult your physician before starting any new treatment regimen. However, some physicians may be adverse to cannabis as a course of treatment. If you decide to use RSO, proceed with caution and at your own discretion.
Below is a recommended RSO regimen. When look for symptom relief for a condition or for medical benefits, for one patient, the goal is to gradually consume 60 grams of Rick Simpson Oil over the course of a 90-day period.
Week 1: Start with three doses every day
Each dose should be about the size of half a grain of rice and should be administered once every eight hours (morning, noon, and night); the first dose will be about ¼ drop of RSO.
Weeks 2 through 5: Double your dose every four days
The average person will take between three and five weeks to reach the full dosage of one gram of RSO per day.
Weeks 5 through 12: Take one gram of RSO daily until you’ve consumed the full 60 grams
Eventually, the patient will be taking about 8-9 rice-sized drops of RSO every eight hours.
Mainly sleepiness, which is a natural part of the healing process. Increasing the dose gradually will help minimize the psychoactive effects and keep your tolerance to a functional level. Daytime sleepiness should fade within three to four weeks.
The taste of the RSO may be slightly bitter or unpleasant, so patients may prefer to ingest the oil by swallowing it directly or mixing it with food, such as bananas, to help mask the taste.
After a 12-week regimen of RSO, you may want to continue the treatment but it should be at a significantly reduced rate. About one to two grams of RSO per month is enough for a regular maintenance dose.
Rick Simpson Oil should not be considered a cure-all for medical conditions, but many patients have experienced significant relief from their medical symptoms and conditions with the use of RSO.
Can you smoke or dab RSO?
As RSO is an oil, it can be smoked or dabbed, however, it depends on what solvent was used to make it—if a highly flammable solvent was used, do not attempt to smoke or dab RSO. Always check with your budtender on how the product was created and whether or not it is safe to dab or smoke.
If making RSO at home, you must be sure to burn off all the alcohol completely. As this can be tricky and the product will not have been tested for chemicals, we recommend not smoking or dabbing RSO you make at home.
Cooking with RSO
You can cook with RSO as well, just as you can with cannabutter or cannabis cooking oil. Consider the dish you’ll be making and keep in mind the texture and stickiness of RSO.
As far as baking, it will be easier to mix it in with something that has more liquid ingredients, like a cake or brownies, as opposed to cookies.
RSO is great for drizzling over any type of food, but the taste can be a little off-putting for some. You may want to mix it with a sauce or something else to mask the flavor.
How to make RSO
Making your own RSO at home is not difficult, and the process isn’t all that different from making cannabutter or other kinds of infused cannabis oil. Rick Simpson recommends using indica cannabis strains for best results, although you can use any strain, especially if a particular one works best for your medical condition.
Don’t want to cook? Buy RSO products here
Rick Simpson Oil recipe
This recipe will produce the full 60 grams of oil for a 90-day treatment regimen. If you’re looking for a smaller treatment course, you can easily divide the recipe into smaller amounts. For example, one ounce of cannabis will produce 3-4 grams of RSO.
- 1 pound of dried cannabis material (indica strain)
- 2 gallons of solvent—Rick recommends 99% isopropyl alcohol, but you can also use wood grain alcohol
- 5-gallon bucket
- Deep bowl
- Wooden spoon for stirring
- Rice cooker
- Plastic catheter tip syringe (60mL)
- Place dry cannabis material into the 5-gallon bucket and pour in the solvent until the plant matter is covered.
- Stir and crush the plant material with your wooden spoon while adding the solvent to your mixture. Continue stirring the mixture for about three minutes while the THC dissolves into the solvent. This will dissolve about 80% of the THC into the solvent.
- Drain the solvent from the plant material into your bowl using the cheesecloth. Place the plant material back in the bucket and add more solvent. Continue stirring for another three minutes.
- Drain the solvent from your plant material into your bowl using the cheesecloth and discard the remaining plant material.
- Transfer your solvent to your rice cooker until it is about ¾ full and turn on your rice cooker.
Note: While you don’t necessarily need a rice cooker, if you’ve never made RSO before, rice cookers are exceptionally useful in this instance for maintaining a slow, steady temperature. If your mixture heats above 300 °F (148 °C ), the cannabinoids will cook off and the RSO will be unusable. It is not recommended to use a Crockpot or slow cooker, as this may overheat your mixture.
- The rice cooker should maintain a steady temperature between 210-230 °F (100-110 °C ), which is the correct heat setting for decarboxylation to occur.
- As the rice cooker heats up, the solvent will slowly evaporate. Continue to add your mixture to the rice cooker gradually.
Note: Make sure your rice cooker is in an open, well-ventilated area, and avoid all flames, stovetops, sparks, and cigarettes, as the solvent is highly combustible.
- Once the solvent has evaporated, siphon the oil into your syringe for easy dosing. The RSO will be thick, so if you have trouble dispensing it, run the syringe under hot water and the RSO mixture should dispense with ease.
The story of Rick Simpson
Rick Simpson stumbled upon cannabis fame purely by accident. Long before “Rick Simpson Oil” was coined as a term, and long before cannabis was considered remotely mainstream, Rick Simpson was an engineer working in a Canadian hospital in 1997.
Working in a hospital boiler room covering asbestos on pipes with a potent aerosol glue, toxic fumes built up in the poorly ventilated room and caused a temporary nervous system shock, making him fall off his ladder and hit his head. He was knocked unconscious and when he awoke, his colleagues took him to an emergency room.
He suffered dizzy spells and a ringing in his ears for years after the accident, but his prescribed medication had little effect, even making his symptoms worse. After seeing a documentary highlighting the positive benefits of cannabis, Simpson inquired about medical marijuana, but his doctor refused to consider it as a treatment. Simpson ended up sourcing cannabis on his own and saw a significant improvement in his tinnitus and other symptoms.
In 2003, after being diagnosed with skin cancer, Simpson did some research and heard about a study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in which THC was found to kill cancer cells in mice. He created the oil that would become RSO to treat his skin cancer topically. After four days, the cancerous growths had disappeared. His physician wouldn’t believe it, but Simpson was convinced of the medicinal powers of cannabis.
From then on out, he began cultivating his own cannabis and harvesting plants to create his own specialized form of cannabis concentrate, now known as Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO. It became his mission and goal to distribute cannabis oil to those who needed it, free of charge. He helped treat more than 5,000 patients with RSO, but his journey was not without its setbacks and struggles.
Simpson’s own doctor refused to acknowledge the benefits, and Simpson faced arrest and persecution in his native Canada. His home was raided on multiple occasions and he had over 2,600 plants cut down and confiscated by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but Simpson persevered and continued to distribute cannabis oil. To this day, he continues to spread the word of his findings.
Have you ever used RSO? How has it impacted your life? Let us know in the comments!
This post was originally published on May 12, 2017. It was most recently updated on July 7, 2020.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a concentrated form of cannabis oil known to have medical benefits. Learn more about Rick Simpson and how to make RSO today.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
Copy article link to clipboard.
Link copied to clipboard.
- Who is Rick Simpson and why did he create RSO?
- Controversy and copycats
- How to use RSO
- The difference between RSO and CBD Oil
- Rick Simpson Oil benefits
- Is RSO considered a full spectrum cannabis oil?
An unrefined, potent cannabis oil extracted using ethanol and named after the man who created it and first benefited from it. Canadian Rick Simpson claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, which has come to be known as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), or Phoenix Tears (the name of Rick’s website). Since then, he has touted the benefits of medical marijuana and used to give away his eponymous oil for free.
Can’t wait to try RSO to see if it’ll help me feel better
Who is Rick Simpson and why did he create RSO?
In 2003, Canadian Rick Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a skin cancer. Soon after his cancer diagnosis, he read a study from the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that showed THC could kill cancer cells in mice. Simpson was already a fan of medical cannabis — he’d been using it to treat tinnitus and dizzy spells caused after falling and hitting his head several years earlier — so he decided to try to treat his skin cancer with cannabis oil.
According to Simpson’s account, he whipped up a homemade extract, applied it directly to the cancerous moles, and covered them with a bandage. Four days later, he removed the bandages and claimed 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.
Controversy and copycats
While one of the most well-known personalities within the medical cannabis community, Simpson has also drawn some controversy and skepticism in his career. He has drawn some ire from physicians and medical professionals for his lack of scientific research or clinical trials to back up his claims.
Simpson still has his share of defenders who have claimed to have successfully used his blend of oil to cure cancer .
On his website, Simpson states that he no longer produces or supplies his oil due to its illegality in many countries. He makes note to disassociate himself with any online vendors who claim to supply “Rick Simpson Oil.”
Simpson claims that the only way to ensure patients have his blend of oil is for patients to produce it themselves. Simpson’s site has instructions and an FAQ. In addition to solvent, which is highly flammable, the recipe for RSO includes a number of random household items, including small containers, coffee filters , an electric rice cooker, a large fan, a stainless steel measuring cup, as well as a coffee warmer or oven. The recipe available on his website demonstrates how to produce the full 60 grams of RSO oil for a 90-day treatment period.
However, in the US be aware it’s often illegal at the federal level and in most local jurisdictions, even if cannabis is legal in that state. In addition, making RSO can be dangerous — work areas need to be well-ventilated with no agents (sparks, open flames, etc.) that could ignite the solvent fumes.
Despite Simpson’s claims, if you have the option, you may want to search for where to buy RSO locally.
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.
In 2011, physician and researcher Dr. Ethan Russo found that the medicinal effects of CBD increase when they’re combined with other cannabinoids. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the entourage effect, which describes the enhanced effect of diffuse cannabis compounds when combined. Simpson claims that his oils produced 2%-6% CBD, but emphasizes that THC content needs to be high in order to treat cancer.
Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Although it is popularly believed that CBD oil is only for epileptic patients and RSO oil is only for cancer patients, early research, including information reported by the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society , has indicated that CBD possesses cancer-inhibiting properties in some types of tumors. Research is still preliminary, because of the prohibition of cannabis in many countries, so the full effectiveness and side effects of cannabinoids to treat cancer are not well established yet.
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.
A 2014 study on mice examined the effects of THC and CBD extracts alongside radiation therapy. The cannabis extracts appeared to increase the effectiveness of radiation against an aggressive type of brain cancer. According to the study’s authors, these results suggest that THC and CBD may help to prepare cancer cells to respond better to radiation therapy.
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.
The antitumor properties of cannabinoids in cell lines and in animal models induced with cancer have been well-documented in peer-reviewed research over the years , but more research is needed to prove the efficacy and safety for clinical trials involving human patients.
As for research on the joint effects of THC and CBD, existing evidence also demonstrates how the combination of THC and CBD creates a synergy that leads to several therapeutic benefits. For instance, research has shown that CBD acts as an antipsychotic agent , reducing the adverse side effects of THC when taken together.
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 process is capable of extracting the full range of compounds, the process of removing the solvent from the solution requires heat. Heat changes the cannabinoids from their acid form into their neutral, or activated, form in a process called decarboxylation (i.e. THCA decarboxylates into THC and CBDA into CBD). The heat also volatilizes most of the terpenes that were initially extracted, leaving an oil that may not have all the bioactive compounds that were available 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.
An unrefined, potent cannabis oil extracted using ethanol and named after the man who created it and first benefited from it. Canadian engineer Rick Simpson claims he cured his own skin cancer with a custom blend of cannabis oil, which has come to be known as Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), or Phoenix Tears (the name of Rick’s website).