One of the most famous cannabis oil products of all time, Rick Simpson oil, or just RSO, frequently makes headline news. Developed by and named after Canadian-born Rick Simpson, himself a dedicated proponent of medical marijuana, this incredibly potent oil is growing in popularity as a cancer treatment. Stories abound of its success wherever one seemingly looks, but what does the science say?
Unlike other cannabis-derived oils and tinctures, RSO contains comparatively insanely high quantities of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC. THC is the famously psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana plants, the one responsible for the “high” associated with use. Other medical oils contain higher amounts of cannabidiol, or CBD, with little to no THC at all. Furthermore, you can make RSO yourself at home.
Benefits of Rick Simpson Oil for Cancer
The controversial claim up for study is that RSO treats cancer. It clearly has a range of positive benefits for those undergoing cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, but no experts are touting it as a cure. Instead, patients are finding traditional treatments easier to bear, and RSO is relieving some of the worst side effects in a gentler, safer, and happier way.
After doctors diagnosed Rick Simpson with skin cancer back in 2003, he chose to apply cannabis oil to all the cancerous spots dotting his neck and face. They all disappeared within a few days, as Simpson tells it. He does not sell his oil, instead of encouraging people to follow his recipe and make their own. Use a potent Indica strain for its powerfully sedating effect, as this is what helps cancer patients most.
Already, many studies prove RSO effective at providing the following benefits for those with cancer:
- Stimulates appetite
- Relieves severe pain
- Quells nausea and vomiting
- Stops spasms
- Fights infections
- Reduces inflammation
- Stabilizes blood pressure
- Dilates bronchial passageways
- Treats insomnia
- Eases depression and anxiety
What Does Science Say?
According to Rick Simpson, he chose cannabis oil after reading a study, now published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, conducted back in 1975. Researchers tested the effects of cannabinoids in mice with lung cancer, and it found both THC and cannabinol, or CBN, another cannabinoid in cannabis plants, slowing growth of cancer cells significantly.
Ever since a plethora of research has been analyzing animal subjects and cell samples for the effects of cannabinoids on cancer cell growth specifically. Then, the American Association for Cancer Research published a study in 2014 examining the effects of THC and CBD in conjunction with radiation therapy. Results indicated improved effectiveness of radiation against, particularly aggressive brain cancer.
These findings suggest that cannabinoids, most notably THC and CBD, may improve the response of cancer cells to radiation treatment. However, the American Association for Cancer Research also published a study showing THC stimulating rate of growth of certain brain and lung cancers. The study is still ongoing, with several early-stage clinical trials, on actual cancer patients, currently underway.
According to Frontiers in Pharmacology, although much evidence exists from many different studies to corroborate that cannabinoids are safe for use in cancer therapy, none demonstrates conclusively if or how it treats or controls cancer itself. Of the cases that do exist, other circumstances prevented conclusions from becoming concrete fact.
For example, the U.S. National Library of Medicine discusses a case involving a 14-year-old patient fighting leukemia. Working with Rick Simpson to create a hemp oil for her, a specific resinous extract of cannabinoids, she took it daily, eventually combining other oils from other sources with unclear results. Although the hemp oil clearly helped her cancer, an unrelated gastrointestinal issue took her life early.
Such cases make it very difficult to come to any definitive conclusions about whether RSO treats cancer or just its symptoms, or if it treats them both simultaneously. Despite the promising nature of almost all results, a need exists for a much bigger, long-term study to understand exactly how the different cannabinoids affect specific cancer cells, and the role that different cannabis strains may play in it.
Is there any danger in consuming RSO? Is it safe, especially combined with heavy prescription drugs and cancer-busting chemicals? The answer is yes, it is safe. However, there are some temporary side effects associated with such high concentrations of THC. None of them is harmful and none last too long, but too much THC can feel unpleasant in the following ways:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Low blood pressure
- Slower digestion
- Sleeping troubles
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired motor control
- Loss of memory
These side effects never last more than a few hours. They also pose no significant health risks. However, if ever you feel overwhelmed, then a high-CBD extract will help to counteract the effects of too much THC. For most, these side effects are mild, even unnoticeable. The calm, relaxed, sedated effects of RSO are more enjoyable than not, especially when enduring the horrors of cancer treatments.
The most concerning danger is the lack of evidence for its effectiveness in treating cancers themselves. It becomes extremely dangerous if you suddenly stop your recommended treatment plan. Cancer will continue growing if RSO does not work, becoming more and more difficult to treat with even conventional techniques, such as chemotherapy.
Furthermore, Rick Simpson does not sell his oil. In fact, he advocates that you make it yourself at home, which comes with its own unique risks. You will need to find a significant quantity of cannabis and prepare to work with solvents. If any spark reaches any solvent used in the process, the risk of explosion is high. What is more, if you leave solvent residue behind, it can itself cause cancer.
Should I Use RSO?
If you want to treat cancer with RSO, then the wisest way to go about it is to keep up with your other treatments at the same time. Discuss cannabinoid therapy with your doctor. He or she can help you draw up an accurate dosing plan. RSO is available across California. You do not have to make it yourself, but you should research where you buy it. Sadly, fakes exist and quality is everything.