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What Is RSO? All About Rick Simpson Oil

By Danyal Swan September 25, 2021

Despite its rich history of medicinal uses, modern society has only recently begun to explore the possibilities of marijuana fully. With each passing year, more and more states have moved forward with the legalization of medical marijuana, allowing for discoveries in the plant’s potential applications and benefits. While cannabis may ease the symptoms of everything from epilepsy to post-traumatic stress disorder, different forms are more suitable for certain types of conditions. One particularly popular form of cannabis within the medical marijuana community is Rick Simpson Oil or RSO. But what is RSO, and what is RSO good for?

What Is Rick Simpson Oil?

To better understand this substance and answer the question, “What is RSO?” it’s important to familiarize yourself with what oil means in the context of cannabis. While inhalation is a common method of introducing cannabis into your body, one alternative is via the creation of cannabis concentrate. Natural oils are extracted from the marijuana plant via the use of a solvent. The resulting crude extract oil can be further manipulated to form Shatter or Crumble, or distilled and kept as a distillate oil to be dosed via ingestion, either directly or by integrating it into your cooking. Depending on your intentions, these extractions might be primarily composed of CBD, THC, or some blend of the two. It’s important to note that oil can sometimes refer to forms of cannabis utilized in vaporizer cartridges; however, those have other dosing methods.

RSO is one such form of cannabis concentrate, created by namesake Rick Simpson. The preferred strain of cannabis for creating RSO is indica, which is more impactful to users’ bodies than their minds and more suitable for pain relief. RSO composition includes relatively high amounts of THC, ranging from 60 percent to 90 percent. One syringe-full of RSO usually contains around 600 mg of THC. In terms of appearance, RSO is a very dark substance with a viscous consistency. Due to its viscosity, it is best to warm RSO slightly in the crook of the elbow for 15-20 seconds prior to dosing. To further assist with dosing, it is sold in a special plastic oral syringe with a plunger, allowing users to dispense minute amounts of the oil at a time. 

What Is RSO Good For? 

RSO has been shown to help with several physical ailments, including chronic pain. The high levels of THC present makes it particularly effective at treating pain compared to other medical marijuana alternatives. Anyone who experiences migraines regularly or has to endure constant inflammation or flare-ups from multiple sclerosis and arthritis may benefit from the pain-relieving benefits of RSO. However, it has other functions as well. Because of the way it interacts with your body, it may also help curtail seizures, combat loss of appetite, soothe your asthma, ease the pressure from your glaucoma, and more. In addition to these applications, the creator of RSO had one other ailment in mind: cancer.

Can Rick Simpson Oil Treat Cancer?

Cancer plays a large role in the history of RSO, as it is the main reason the concentrate was created in the first place. Rick Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. Given his previous experiences with marijuana, he sought to discover if the plant could somehow help him combat his new diagnosis. He extracted a concentrated form of cannabis with high THC levels and began following his own health regimen, which included placing a few drops of the oil directly onto the cancerous growths on his body. According to Simpson, the growths entirely disappeared in just a matter of days. This sudden discovery inspired him to continue producing his unique creation, which eventually became permanently associated with his name as Rick Simpson Oil. 

Simpson’s decision to experiment with cannabis to treat his cancer wasn’t entirely without precedent. At the time, he was inspired by a particular study conducted in 1975. This study showed evidence that cannabinoids THC and CBN effectively managed to slowdown lung cancer growth in mouse test subjects. This was enough to convince him of the possibility. 

Given that research is still ongoing, some of it with mixed results, it is currently impossible to confirm Simpson’s claims, especially when considering how differently each form of cancer operates in the body. However, some of the information available, including a case where a young girl with leukemia appeared to treat her cancer successfully with a homemade supply of RSO, is quite promising. At the very least, recent early-stage trials suggest that cannabinoids are safe for use in cancer patients and assist in increased appetite during cancer treatment.

How Is RSO Administered, And How Much Should You Take?

RSO has a strong legacy of analgesic and anti-cancer effects.

As discussed above, RSO is most commonly administered orally, despite Simpson’s original topical application. Patients should note that, as with edibles, orally consumed RSO will be digested, converting THC to 11-hydroxy-THC, which is 5x’s more psychoactive. As such, start low and go slow when beginning an RSO regimen.

A commonly recommended regimen consists of introducing up to 60 grams of the substance into your body in small amounts for 90 days. Each dose is taken three times a day, once in the morning, once at noon, and once at night.

According to the regimen, the dosage amounts should be broken up into three stages. The first stage, consisting of an initial period of seven days, involves ingesting doses as small as half a grain of rice. The special applicator with which RSO is sold allows users to dispense minute doses with ease. The second stage, which occurs from weeks two to five, involves ingesting slightly larger amounts—1 gram per dose. The final stage, which takes place from weeks five through 12, involves ingesting about eight or nine drops, each about the size of a grain of rice, per dose.

Regardless of the dosing regimen that you choose to follow, it may help to take RSO on a full stomach.This helps break down the active ingredients in a shorter timeframe, swiftly introducing the THC into your bloodstream so you can start experiencing the benefits within roughly 45 minutes.

What Other Methods Can Be Used?

While the oil can certainly be ingested without additional additives or flavorings, it can also be incorporated into other food items to make it more palatable. Because oil is so often used in the kitchen, many Rick Simpson Oil consumers add the substance to their cooking. As long as users are mindful of dosing while adding the oil to their food, this is a perfectly acceptable way to administer RSO.

Simpson’s initial method of application is another acceptable way to administer RSO; securing the dose with an occlusive dressing that creates a water-and air-tight seal over the area of application is recommended. The most important thing to remember if you choose to apply the oil topically is that this method does not allow THC to enter the bloodstream. This means that you will not experience any of the usual psychoactive symptoms associated with high THC amounts, unlike the other method. As such, it may not be as effective for pain management. 

One question that often comes up is, “Can you smoke RSO?” The answer to that is a resounding “No.” RSO is is considered an exhaustive extract, meaning every component of the cannabis plant is extracted. While this exhaustive style of extract is considered beneficial for oral consumption, the inclusion of chlorophyll, fats and lipids make it unsuitable for smoking or vaporization.

Other RSO Products

RSO can be uncomfortably strong for first-time users if they aren’t mindful of the dosage, given the high THC concentration. Because of the reported benefits of RSO, MÜV created a product ideal for easing into a RSO routine.

Strain-specific RSO Tinctures are a more diluted form of the substance and are sold with a dropper for drop-based dosing; one drop is approximately 1 mg THC, and a full dropper is approximately 20 mg. It’s important to note that even though this version of RSO may not be as concentrated as traditional RSO, it is still rather strong and should be taken in very small doses when first introducing it to your system. As the dose titrates up, you can graduate to the RSO strain-specific syringe, or to RSO EnCaps™ cannabis capsules.

RSO EnCaps are formulated to provide approximately 25 mg of THC per red capsule, no measuring required. The marijuana capsule features patented encapsulated technology, allowing for an onset time of just 15-30 minutes.  

Are RSO Products Safe to Use?

The side effects of RSO are not unlike the side effects of any other marijuana-based product. General sleepiness is a common symptom. However, the small size of the dose should minimize that and any psychoactive effects. While overdosing in a traditional sense is not a danger with RSO, taking too much of it can result in unpleasant, intense effects, including increased irritability and anxiety. That is why it is critical to be careful about the amounts you’re ingesting, especially if you are a first-time user or have had limited exposure to marijuana in the past. If you happen to get a little heavy-handed with your dose, consuming a dose of CBD Cannabis Tincture may help ease some of the unwanted side effects.  

Tolerance builds fairly quickly, and as long as you take proper care when determining your dosage, you will likely no longer notice any side effects within the course of a few weeks. Meanwhile, the list of potential health benefits associated with RSO grows longer all the time.

MÜV MedTenders are happy to explain the benefits of an RSO regimen (Note: image was taken before the pandemic)

MÜV Gets You the Products You Need

Still a little confused regarding, “What is RSO?” Your safety and comfort are our utmost priority, so if you have any additional questions about whether RSO products make sense for your situation, you’re welcome to consult with an MÜV MedTender at your next visit, or connect with a Patient Care Representative. To get started with Patient Care, reach out to us via live chat by opening the bubble on the bottom right of your screen, call us at 833-880-5420, or send us an email. Alternatively, if you’re ready to venture into the world of RSO, you can go ahead and shop for RSO products online with MÜV!

Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.

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