Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a cannabis oil product that reportedly treats several health problems including cancer.
RSO was developed by Canadian medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson. RSO is a cannabis oil product that contains much higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than other cannabis oils. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and it’s the reason you get high from smoking or eating marijuana. Other therapeutic cannabis oils are primarily made from hemp and contain a cannabinoid called cannabidiol (CBD) very little THC (less than 0.3 percent).
In addition to being used as a cure for cancer, RSO is said to treat arthritis, asthma, depression, high blood pressure, infections, inflammation, insomnia, and multiple sclerosis. It is also often used to counteract the negative side effects of radiation and chemotherapy.
What makes RSO different?
RSO is made from Cannabis indica, a type of cannabis that produces a sedative effect that promotes healing. This is somewhat like the health effect of meditation, which slows down your sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight) and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-repair).
Side effects and potential risks
THC is a psychoactive substance that can potentially produce side effects including anxiety, depression, disorientation, hallucinations, and paranoia. Physical side effects may include bloodshot eyes, digestive issues, dizziness, impaired memory, impaired motor control and reaction time, low blood pressure, and insomnia.
However, generally these side effects are short-lived and mild.
Rick Simpson decided to try cannabis oil as a health remedy after coming across the results of a 1975 study that demonstrated a significant decrease in lung cancer growth in mice treated with THC and another cannabinoid called cannabinol (CBN). Another study showed that using THC and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts increased the effectiveness of radiation against aggressive brain cancer.
However, another study that used human cells discovered that THC increased the growth of certain brain and lung cancer cells. Recently, a 14-year-old girl with a specific type of leukemia was given a cannabinoid resin extract (hemp oil) which appeared to treat her cancer; however, she died two months into the treatment from a gastrointestinal condition unrelated to the cancer, making it difficult to say conclusively whether the cannabis oil treatment was truly effective.
Much more research on humans is needed to determine which cannabinoids are most effective for treating various health concerns. Possibly its biggest risk is that RSO has not been proven to cure cancer; therefore, a patient who forgoes conventional therapy (chemo and radiation) in favor of RSO may run the risk of the cancer growing and then being even more difficult to treat.
Where to get RSO
Rick Simpson advocates making your own RSO. You will need a fair amount of marijuana (which is still illegal in some areas), and you need to be comfortable with the chemical processes used to make RSO. You may also be able to purchase RSO at your local dispensary, providing that marijuana is legal in your state.
If you want to use RSO to treat cancer, stay with the treatments recommended by your doctor while you use RSO. While the research is promising, it’s wise to stick with what works, and use RSO as a complementary therapy.