What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)? 

What You Need to Know About Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is named after its inventor, Rick Simpson, a Canadian engineer and cannabis activist. RSO is known for its high potency and has been embraced by the alternative medicine community, particularly for the treatment of cancer.  


What is RSO? 


Rick Simpson Oil is an extremely potent oil—it can have a THC percentage upwards of 90%—derived from cannabis that’s dark brown or black in color, and has a syrup-like consistency. RSO retains a larger quantity of plant matter than other concentrates, which gives it a bitter vegetal or grassy taste. RSO was originally developed for medicinal purposes; consequently, it’s generally produced using indica cannabis strains, which are known for their sedative and calming effects.  


Who is Rick Simpson? 


Rick Simpson is a Canadian engineer who, following the development of his namesake oil, went on to become a cannabis icon. Rick Simpson’s first foray into medical marijuana was to treat issues resulting from a fall from a ladder in 1997—namely tinnitus and dizzy spells—which it did with great results.  


Just a few years later, in 2003, Rick Simpson was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. After learning of a study from the mid-70s in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that concluded cannabis slowed tumor growth in mice, he was inspired to create the oil that today bears his name.  


Simpson recovered from his cancer scare and maintained that his use of RSO was responsible for curing him. Following his recovery, Simpson became an advocate for medical marijuana and the healing properties of his oil.  


It’s worth noting that while there is a voluminous amount of anecdotal evidence of the benefits of RSO, there is minimal scientific data to support it.   


The Benefits of RSO 


There’s an abundance of anecdotal evidence of the health benefits provided by RSO and proponents of RSO tout its use as everything from a painkiller to a cancer treatment to a cure-all for a variety of ailments. Conditions commonly treated with RSO include:  


  • Appetite loss 

  • Chronic pain 

  • Depression  

  • Migraines 

  • Nausea 

  • Sleep disorders 

  • Stress 

  • Tinnitus 


There has been little scientific research to support the claims of RSO advocates and considerably more exploration is needed into the effectiveness of RSO (and cannabis in general) as a treatment. There are some indications, however, that cannabis could potentially play a role in treating cancer and easing the side effects of traditional treatment. Cannabis is becoming increasingly legal across the U.S.—it’s now legal in 19 states, two territories, and the District of Columbia. However, cannabis remains illegal federally, which restricts research into both the potential health benefits and drawbacks provided by cannabis products.  


RSO vs. FECO  


Rick Simpson Oil and full-extract cannabis oil (FECO) are alike in that they’re both highly concentrated forms of cannabis made using the whole plant, they resemble each other in appearance, and share similar-sounding names. The primary differences between the two are the extraction process and type of solvent used:  


  • RSO traditionally uses naphtha as a solvent—although alcohol is also used—and is produced at a higher temperature than FECO. 

  • FECO uses ethanol to extract the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other elements from cannabis and is produced at a lower temperature than RSO. 


The result of the different methods and tools of production is two similar, yet unique products. RSOs are extremely high in cannabinoids, maintain more chlorophyll than FECOs, and are prized for their healing properties. FECOs also possess a large number of cannabinoids and don’t use naphtha (a product of distilling petroleum that is not food grade and not recommended for consumption) as a solvent. Proponents of RSO argue that the solvent is burned off in production. 


How to Use RSO 


Rick Simpson Oil is most often thought of with medical marijuana, but it’s also consumed recreationally. It’s known to produce a whole body buzz and euphoric feeling that can last between six and eight hours.   


RSO is typically consumed in one of two ways: sublingually (under the tongue) or as a topical (on the surface of the skin). RSO is also commonly mixed into food—adding it to sauces, dips, dressings, and beverages is a popular method for disguising its bitter taste.   


Exercise Caution Using Rick Simpson Oil 


Rick Simpson Oil is quite potent and dosing is often tricky due to its consistency, which makes it easy to overconsume. It’s recommended that users—particularly those who are new to cannabis—proceed with caution the first time trying RSO. Users are advised to start with a small dose, such as an oil droplet about the size of a grain of rice, and adjust accordingly over time to achieve the desired effect.   


If you do overdo it with Rick Simpson Oil, remember that while it can cause some unpleasant sensations, they will pass and there are no long-term negative effects.  


RSO at Plant Dispensary  


Interested in learning more about Rick Simpson Oil and whether it’s the right cannabis product for you? Plan Dispensary can help! Our expert budtenders can help match you to the right cannabis product to meet your desired effects and help ensure you have an excellent experience. 

Plant Dispensary

Plan Dispensary writes about cannabis cultures, recent events, promotions and industry developments.




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