What Is RSO (Rick Simpson Oil)?

by Rachelle Gordon

When it comes to medical cannabis, there are many product options. One of the most popular and revered is called RSO, short for Rick Simpson Oil. Named after its creator, Canadian activist Rick Simpson, this thick and viscous compound is believed to have a number of benefits, and may even kill cancer cells. While few peer-reviewed studies on the subject exist, anecdotal evidence suggests that RSO is nothing short of miraculous. 

This article will outline the legacy of Rick Simpson, how to dose RSO, and how to make the oil at home.

Rick Simpson Oil — A Brief History

Rick Simpson never set out to become a cannabis oil pioneer. The mild-mannered engineer was working in an asbestos-laden hospital in 1997 when he was overcome by fumes and suffered a fall from a ladder. He subsequently experienced headaches and a constant ringing in his ears, for which he sought treatment from doctors. After finding little success with conventional treatments, Simpson heard about the potential healing powers of medical marijuana. Against the wishes of his physician, Simpson obtained cannabis and found it to offer the relief he had been seeking.

A few years later, Simpson developed tumor-like bumps on his arm. He was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer. It was at this time when Simpson read a study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which showed THC (an active ingredient in cannabis) to have the ability to eliminate cancer cells in mice. Wanting to avoid radiation therapy, he decided to develop his own cannabis extract, which he then applied topically to the bumps on the arm under a bandage. 

Four days later, Simpson removed the bandage and found the bumps had disappeared. It was then he decided to dedicate his life to sharing his successes with others. Despite persecution from local authorities, including the destruction of 2,600 cannabis plants in 2009, Simpson continues this important mission to this day. RSO is often used to treat cancer, but has also been used for insomnia, depression, high blood pressure, arthritis, or other chronic pain conditions.

How To Make Rick Simpson Oil

According to Simpson, RSO refers to “extremely potent decarboxylated extracts produced from strong sedative Indica strains, which have THC levels in the 90% range.” It is made by extracting the cannabinoids from the plant material using a solvent, typically 99% isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol is then removed as the THC-A in the plant material converts to THC, leaving the RSO oil. Here is a brief how-to based on Simpson’s own recipe:

Step 1: Gather the necessary components. This includes one pound of high-quality cannabis bud, preferable an Indica-dominant strain (can use less if necessary), two gallons of isopropyl alcohol, a 5-gallon bucket, a large bowl or container, cheesecloth or coffee filters, a long wooden spoon or yardstick for stirring, a rice cooker, a box fan, and plastic syringes (without needles) for the resulting oil.

Step 2: Place the cannabis at the bottom of the 5-gallon bucket and cover it with alcohol.

Step 3: Stir the mixture with the wooden spoon or yardstick for approximately three to four minutes to crush the material.

Step 4: Place the cheesecloth or coffee filter over the bowl or container and slowly pour the solvent mixture in, making sure to filter out the plant material.

Step 5: Place the wet plant material back in the 5-gallon bucket and cover again with more alcohol. Repeat steps three and four and discard the plant material after.

Step 6: Carefully transfer the liquid in the bowl or container to the rice cooker until it is about three-quarters full. Do not place the lid on top — you want the alcohol to evaporate into the air. Place the cooker in a well-ventilated area with a fan nearby as the solvents are combustible. Do not place near a stove or open fire.

Step 7: Turn the rice cooker on “high” in order for the alcohol to evaporate. As the liquid levels decrease, add more from the bowl or container until all of the liquid has evaporated. 

Step 8: Turn off the rice cooker, allowing the RSO oil to cool down. Transfer to syringes.

How To Dose RSO 

Rick Simpson originally recommended patients consume a full 60 grams of RSO oil orally over a 90-day period. However, due to the incredibly potent nature of the cannabis oil, a gradual dosing pattern with increases over time is a safer bet. It’s important to note that RSO could have sedative side effects and to not drive a vehicle after consuming it. Some people find the flavor of RSO to be unpleasant, opting to ingest it with other foods such as bread or bananas to mask the taste.

Here is a dosing schedule broken down by weeks:

Week 1: Begin with a drop of oil no larger than half a grain of rice (around a quarter of a drop from a 60ml syringe) every eight hours.

Weeks 2-5: Begin doubling the amount of RSO every four days starting in the second week. For example, the half-grain of rice size will increase to one grain — or a half-drop. In four days, increase again to a full drop. The majority of people will take three to five weeks before they can consume one gram of oil per day.

Weeks 5-12: Consume 8-9 drops three times per day in order to achieve the full recommended dose of one gram of oil daily.

Some people wish to continue with a long-term Rick Simpson Oil regimen after the initial 12-week course. A recommended maintenance dose is one to two grams per month, with one to two drops of oil taken before bed. RSO can also be taken in suppository form or applied topically.

RSO Oil — Final Thoughts

The story of Rick Simpson is just one of the many expressing the incredible healing potential of medical marijuana. While there is a lack of peer-reviewed studies due to cannabis remaining a Schedule I narcotic in the eyes of the federal government, RSO has already changed many lives for the better. It is hoped that as legalization continues to spread throughout the world, more scientific analysis on the possible benefits of cannabis will be conducted.

It’s important to discuss medical cannabis with your primary care physician before beginning a regiment. If that medical professional is unfamiliar with the human body’s endocannabinoid system and its potential deficiencies, it may be worth advocating for them to do some research on your behalf. There may also be other physicians within your network who are more familiar with medical marijuana — don’t be afraid to seek them out!

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1 comment

Linda Kearney August 25, 2020 - 9:33 pm

I was just reading how to make the RSO, but just wanted to double check the amounts that one would require, as it seems such a huge amount of isopropyl alcohol to I pound of bud, as 2 gallons 16 pints would take a very long time to evaporate in a small rice cooker, as I would imagine you would not want to leave it by itself for any amount of time to be on the safe side, so just wanted to double check the quantities with you. Thank you. Linda

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