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Rick Simpson Oil: RSO CBD Oil Benefits, Side Effects and Cannabis Oil Risks

George deGeyter



Rick Simpson Oil: RSO CBD Oil Benefits, Side Effects and Cannabis Oil Risks
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Rick Simpson is a Canadian medical marijuana activist best known for creating Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), which is similar to CBD oil but with significantly different composition.

Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about Rick Simpson CBD oil, including whether or not Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is scientifically proven to reduce cancer in any way.

What is Rick Simpson Oil?

Rick Simpson Oil, also known as RSO, is a cannabis oil product popularized by Canadian medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson.

There are plenty of CBD oils on the market today. However, Rick Simpson Oil is not technically a CBD oil. RSO contains significantly higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than a typical CBD oil. THC is the active chemical compound – or cannabinoid – in marijuana that makes you high.

An average RSO made at-home or bought in-store contains 50 to 60% THC and 10 to 15% CBD, depending on the strain that was used. It’s also a full spectrum plant extract, which means it contains all of the components of the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids like CBN and CBG may be present in concentrated amounts.

RSO is generally made from Cannabis indica, which is known for its sedative, healing properties.

Typically, CBD oils on the market today contain less than 0.3% THC – or no THC at all. CBD oils with more than 0.3% THC are legal only in states or countries that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.

Before you call Rick Simpson a snake oil salesman, it’s important to note that Rick Simpson doesn’t actually sell RSO; instead, he encourages people to create their own Rick Simpson Oil using his methods.

Today, you can also purchase RSO CBD Oil from various online retailers. Lazarus Naturals, for example, sells a popular RSO CBD Oil product for $40 (10mL) to $180 (50mL), with each mL containing 100mg of CBD.

What is Rick Simpson CBD Oil?

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and CBD oil are two different cannabis extracts. Today, however, some retailers now sell “RSO CBD oil”.

This might seem contradictory: RSO contains 50 to 60% THC, while CBD oil contains less than 0.3% THC by definition.

So how does RSO CBD oil work? What is RSO CBD oil?

As far as we can tell, RSO CBD oil is just a clever marketing term. It’s basically just full spectrum CBD oil, where the entire plant is used to make oil.

Unlike pure CBD oil, which focuses only on CBD, full spectrum CBD oil contains CBD and other cannabinoids in the hemp plant (without THC or other psychoactive compounds).

In other words, full spectrum CBD oil and RSO CBD oil appear to be identical products.


Potential Benefits of RSO

The main benefit of Rick Simpson Oil according to Rick and his supporters is that it cures cancer.

Simpson was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2003. Then, he began applying RSO to cancerous spots on his face and neck. Simpson claims the spots disappeared within a few days, and he has been cancer-free ever since.

RSO is also purported to treat a number of other conditions, including:

Scientific Evidence for Rick Simpson Oil

All of the benefits above sound good – but are they backed by any real, scientific research? Let’s take a look at some of the formal studies on using CBD oil and Rick Simpson Oil to cure cancer and other conditions.

First, Rick Simpson decided to try cannabis oil after discovering a 1975 study involving mice with lung cancer. Researchers found that THC and another cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN) reduced the growth of lung cancer in mice.

In the years since the publication of that study, a number of other studies have reported similar anti-cancer effects in both cell and animal models. Certain cannabinoids, including THC, CBN, and CBD, may be able to reduce the spread and growth of cancer cells.

One 2014 study, for example, examined the effects of THC and CBD extracts when used in conjunction with radiation therapy. Researchers found that the cannabis extracts increased the effectiveness of radiation against an aggressive type of brain cancer. The study’s authors concluded that THC and CBD may help prepare cancer cells to respond better to radiation therapy.

It’s not all good news, however. One study published in Cancer Research in 2004, for example, found that THC actually increased the growth rate of certain lung and brain cancer cells. Researchers were attempting to replicate the anti-cancer effects of earlier THC studies, but discovered the opposite instead.

More recently, there have been several early stage clinical trials involving human participants with cancer. These studies generally produce similar findings: CBD and THC oils are safe for humans with cancer to take, but they have mixed results at actually treating the cancer.

hemp and cbd

One study that Rick Simpson and RSO supporters frequently cite was published in 2013. A 14-year old girl with a specific type of leukemia worked with Rick Simpson to create a cannabinoid resin extract – referred to as hemp oil – which she took daily. After taking the hemp oil, the girl’s cancer appeared to stop spreading. However, the girl started using other oils with mixed results. The girl died two months later from an unrelated gastrointestinal condition.

Some of these results are promising and suggest that cannabis oil and CBD oil have powerful anti-cancer benefits. Overall, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind cannabinoids and cancer cells.

Side Effects of Rick Simpson Oil

Cannabis oil contains THC, which is a psychoactive substance. It can make you feel high. It can also produce a range of psychological symptoms similar to cannabis consumption in general, including:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Depression
  • Irritability

In addition to psychoactive effects, THC can also cause physical side effects, including:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Slow digestion
  • Sleep issues
  • Impaired motor control and reaction time
  • Impaired memory

Both the psychoactive and physical side effects typically only last a few hours and do not pose any major, long-term health risks.

Other Risks of Rick Simpson Oil

Generally, cannabis oil, CBD oil, and RSO are safe to take, according to the results of most studies to date.

The main risk of Rick Simpson Oil, of course, is that there’s limited evidence that it can cure cancer. Someone might stop taking a doctor-prescribed cancer treatment and begin taking RSO with disastrous effects. If the RSO doesn’t work, then the cancer can continue to spread until eventually it’s too late.

Another risk is that Rick Simpson Oil is made at home, which could introduce some problems, including:

  • To make RSO, you’ll need to acquire a significant amount of marijuana, which is illegal in some countries or states
  • The process for making RSO at home is slightly risky; if a spark reaches one of the solvents used to make RSO during the cooking process, it can cause an explosion or fire
  • The solvents themselves can leave behind cancer-causing residue if they are improperly handled

Obviously, you can limit these risks by making RSO in a safe setting, and by following your doctor’s recommended cancer treatment in conjunction to using RSO. Remember: one of the studies that showed the effectiveness of RSO involved taking RSO in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Of course, you can also limit these risks by buying RSO from retailers online.

What’s the Difference Between CBD Oil and Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?

CBD oil and Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) have both surged in popularity in recent years. What’s the difference between the two cannabis-derived oils?

Both oils are made from the same plant – the cannabis plant. Botanically speaking, the cannabis genus includes both cannabis and hemp. However, hemp is known for having low THC content, while cannabis is not (among other differences).

Rick Simpson Oil is almost always made specifically from Cannabis indica strains, which some studies show are more effective for physical ailments.

Many people do, however, make Rick Simpson Oil from Cannabis sativa strains. RSO made from sativa strains may be more effective for treating mental illness.

CBD oil, on the other hand, is made from hemp, which is known for its high CBD and low THC content. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found within the cannabis plant. It does not get you high, but many people claim CBD delivers powerful health benefits.

As mentioned above, RSO has THC content as high as 50 to 60% and CBD content of 10 to 15%, depending on the strain used. CBD oil, meanwhile, has trace amounts of cannabinoids like THC or CBN (0 to 0.03%) and anywhere from 2.5 to 20% CBD.

Overall, CBD oil and Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) are two different products with different chemical components.

Who is Rick Simpson?

Rick Simpson is a Canadian medical marijuana advocate best known for popularizing Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO.

Rick discovered the effects of cannabis oil long before medical marijuana was mainstream. In 1997, four years before medical marijuana was legalized across Canada, Rick Simpson was an engineer working at a Canadian hospital.

rick simpson

Simpson worked in the boiler room of the hospital, covering the asbestos on the hospital’s pipes with powerful aerosol glue. The boiler room was poorly ventilated, and the toxic fumes caused temporary nervous system shock. Simpson collapsed, fell off the ladder, and hit his head. When he awoke, his colleagues took him to the emergency room.

For years after the accident, Rick suffered dizzy spells and ringing in his ears. His doctor prescribed medication, but it had limited effect and even made his symptoms worse.

Rick watched a documentary on the healing effects of cannabis and asked his doctor about medical marijuana, but his doctor refused to consider it as a source of treatment.

Rick ended up getting cannabis on his own and noticed a significant improvement in his tinnitus and other symptoms.

In 2003, three small bumps appeared on Simpson’s arm. His doctor agreed that the bumps looked cancerous, and samples were taken for a biopsy. Rick had a form of skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma.

This is when Simpson stumbled upon the 1975 study linked above where THC was found to kill cancer cells in mice. Rick created a concentrated cannabis oil product, then applied the oil to the spots on his skin, wrapping the area in a bandage and leaving it for several days.

Four days later, Rick removed the bandages and noticed the cancerous growths had disappeared. His doctor couldn’t believe it and refused to acknowledge cannabis as an alternative treatment. Rick was officially converted to the healing powers of cannabis.

From this point forward, Rick began cultivating his own cannabis and harvesting his own plants to create a specialized form of cannabis concentrate known as Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO.

Rick also wanted that oil to be available to anyone who needed it, free of charge. That’s why Rick has never manufactured and sold his own RSO.

Over the following years, Rick faced increased scrutiny from law enforcement. His home was raided multiple times by police. At one point, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) cut down and confiscated more than 2,600 plants from his residence. Undeterred, Rick continues to spread his findings to this day.

cooking rso

How to Make Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) at Home

You can find plenty of Rick Simpson Oil recipes online. It’s not overly difficult, although there are some small risks involved. The process isn’t much different from making cannabutter and similar types of infused cannabis oils.

This recipe will create 60g of oil, good for a 90 day treatment plan. As a general rule, each ounce of cannabis produces 3 to 4 grams of RSO.


  • 1 pound of dried cannabis (indica strain)
  • 2 gallons of solvent (99% isopropyl alcohol is most popular, but people also use butane, ethanol, and other solvents)
  • 5 gallon bucket
  • A deep bowl
  • A wooden spoon for stirring
  • Cheesecloth
  • Rice cooker (you don’t technically need a rice cooker, but it’s useful for maintaining a slow and steady temperature during the cooking process)
  • Plastic catheter tip syringe


Step 1) Place the dried cannabis into the 5 gallon bucket, then pour the solvent over the cannabis until it’s covered.

Step 2) 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. About 80% of the THC will be dissolved into the solvent.

Step 3) Drain the solvent from the plant material in your bowl using the cheesecloth, then place the plant material back into the bucket and add more solvent. Continue stirring for three minutes.

Step 4) Drain the solvent from the plant material into your bowl using the cheesecloth, then discard the remaining plant material.

Step 5) Transfer your solvent to the rice cooker until it is about ¾ full, then turn on your rice cooker.

Note: You don’t technically need a rice cooker. However, rice cookers let you maintain a slow, steady temperatures. If you heat the mixture above 300 degrees F (148 degrees C), the cannabinoids will cook off and the RSO will be worthless. Using a Crockpot or slow cooker is not recommended, as it’s easy to overheat the mixture.

Step 6) Use the rice cooker to maintain a steady temperature between 210 and 230 degrees F (100 to 110 degrees C); this is the temperature at which decarboxylation occurs, releasing the active components from the cannabis plant.

Step 7) Wait for the solvent to evaporate as the rice cooker heats up. Continue adding your mixture to the rice cooker bit by bit.

Note: Keep your rice cooker in an open, well-ventilated area. The solvent is highly combustible, so avoid all flames, stovetops, sparks, cigarettes, lighters, etc. during any stage of this process.

Step 8) Once the solvent has evaporated, siphon the oil into your syringe for easy dosing. The RSO will be thick, and it may be difficult to dispense. Run the syringe under hot water with the RSO mixture inside to reduce viscosity.

How to Take RSO

Talk to your doctor to determine the best RSO dosage for your unique needs or condition.

Generally, the goal is to gradually consume 60g of Rick Simpson Oil (the same amount made in the recipe above) over a 90 day period, increasing your dose gradually over the treatment period.

Most people take RSO sublingually, placing drops under your tongue for the fastest absorption rate. However, you can also take it in a capsule (slowest-acting effects, but the effects last longer) or as a topical applied directly to your skin (to potentially treat skin issues).

Week 1) Start with three doses every day, with each dose about the size of half a grain of rice, administered once every eight hours (morning, noon, and night); your first dose should be about one quarter of one drop of RSO

Weeks 2 through 5) Double your dose every four days; it should take 3 to 5 weeks to reach the full RSO dosage of one gram, which means you’re taking about 8 to 9 rice-sized drops of RSO every eight hours

Weeks 5 Through 12) Continue taking one gram of RSO per day until you’ve consumed the full 60g of RSO

RSO can have a bitter or unpleasant taste. Some people mix RSO with foods like bananas to mask the taste. Others just swallow the oil directly.

How to Buy RSO

RSO has become increasingly popular in recent years. A number of cannabis retailers now sell RSO in various forms.

Lazarus Naturals, for example, sells RSO CBD Oil for $40 to $180.

Remember: RSO contains high levels (50 to 60%) of THC, which means it’s only legal in jurisdictions where recreational use of marijuana is legal (or you have a valid prescription).

Final Word

Rick Simpson Oil is backed by some promising research. However, other studies have shown that the oil has mixed effectiveness when treating cancer. Some studies have even shown that THC can increase the growth of cancer cells.

Today, some people take RSO CBD oil, combining the benefits of RSO with the legality of CBD.

Ultimately, Rick Simpson Oil could be a legitimate cure for cancer – or it could be complete snake oil. Until we conduct large-scale human trials on RSO, CBD oil, or cannabis oil, it’s impossible to say whether or not these oils are effective for treating cancer and other health conditions.

George deGeyter is a professional Canadian writer with over a decade of experience getting his start in 2007 while obtaining his bachelor’s degree in accounting and humanities. Boasting a personal library of hundreds of books on a wide range of topics, George loves to write on a vast array of topics including health, technology, pets, beauty, gardening, business careers and has added CBD and hemp to his repertoire here at TOC.

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