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?
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
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.
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.