Rick Simpson Oil is a cannabis extract that takes its name from the medical cannabis activist who created it. Simpson claims that applying the oil to cancer spots on his skin cleared them within days.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is unique because it contains higher levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) than other medical cannabis extracts.

Although there is some evidence to support the use of cannabis for aiding cancer treatment, the medical community needs more direct evidence of its safety and effectiveness in humans before making firm conclusions.

Scientists continue to research potential uses for cannabis in treating cancer.

Marijuana leaves depicting Rick Simpson OilShare on Pinterest
Marijuana leaves depicting Rick Simpson Oil

RSO is a high potency cannabis extract with high levels of THC and other cannabinoids.

Many researchers and medical companies are now focusing on CBD oil, which contains mostly the noneuphoric compound cannabidiol (CBD). However, RSO contains much higher levels of THC, the compound responsible for the high, euphoric feeling that people associate with cannabis.

Although several companies may sell RSO on the market, Rick Simpson’s website recommends that people make it at home.

According to the website, individuals should use cannabis from Cannabis indica strains to make the oil correctly. Some people suggest that these strains create a more subdued, relaxed state, which is reportedly important to assist healing.

The main claim behind RSO is that it can treat cancer. However, many RSO supporters claim that it has helped treat other conditions, including:

However, there is no direct evidence to support these claims.

Although people may use the oil in any way they choose, the main claim is that RSO can treat cancer. However, there is currently little to no evidence to support claims that it cures the disease directly.

Researchers have been studying cannabis and THC, the main component in RSO, for many years. Some evidence supports the compound’s use in cancer therapy.

For instance, an older study from 2014 found that a combination of CBD and THC enhanced the effects of radiation therapy in rodents. This appears promising, as it suggests that cannabis compounds might improve standard cancer treatments.

Another older study also explored the use of cannabis oil in a child with a specific cancer. She was terminally ill and had no success with standard treatment. Her parents chose to stop the standard treatment and give her a cannabis extract in the form of RSO.

Although it did appear to reduce her specific type of cancer, the girl died from other complications unrelated to its use.

This makes it hard to draw any firm conclusions about the effect the oil would have had on the cancer cells in the long term, so it is difficult to view the treatment as a success.

Some cancers may respond better to cannabinoids than others. For example, a 2019 review suggests that cannabis may be helpful as an addition to cancer treatments that involve cannabinoids, which are the cells in the body that respond to compounds in cannabis. One such cancer is pancreatic cancer.

The research indicated that both THC and CBD could help as supplementary treatments for pancreatic cancer. The authors urged more clinical studies to look into using cannabinoids for pancreatic cancer.

A separate 2016 review studied the overall body of research into cannabinoids and their effects regarding cancer. The researchers noted that most animal studies found that the active compounds in cannabis could effectively decrease tumor growth.

Also, although they are limited, the few human studies to date do show promise, particularly in preventing or slowing tumor growth.

These initial results look positive, but it is still too early to make any broad statements about cannabis and cancer therapy. With this in mind, more long-term studies using RSO or cannabis in humans would need to help back up any claims with strong evidence.

It is also important to note that an older study from 2004 suggested that high THC concentrations actually accelerated cancer cell progression rather than decreasing it. Therefore, more research is necessary before scientists can draw firm conclusions on the efficacy of RSO.

THC is a psychoactive substance, and some people are more sensitive to it than others.

It causes the euphoric feeling that most people associate with cannabis. As a result, it can cause temporary mental impairment, so individuals should not operate machinery or drive while using RSO.

High doses of THC may also cause several side effects involving the brain, such as:

  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • panic attacks
  • hallucinations
  • irritability, especially when “coming down”
  • disorientation

Physical side effects are also common when using THC, such as:

  • dry, red eyes
  • dizziness
  • low blood pressure
  • trouble sleeping
  • impaired memory

However, these side effects are generally temporary and tend to subside when THC starts to leave the body.

The most important thing to remember about RSO is that there is little evidence to suggest it directly cures cancer. Therefore, a person should not stop their recommended cancer treatment in favor of taking RSO.

RSO is a highly potent THC concentrate that may contain more than 90% THC. This may make it easy for inexperienced users to overconsume the substance, which could lead to serious side effects, including tachycardia and paranoia.

Much of the research around cannabis in humans supports using the plant as a supportive therapy, such as helping deal with the side effects of chemotherapy. Anyone looking for alternatives to their cancer treatment should consult a doctor to discuss their options.

Some may also worry that THC and cannabis products may pose some long-term risks, especially in younger people.

One 2015 study noted that teenagers who use cannabis more often may have a higher risk of impaired thinking than those who do not use it often. Their brains are still developing at this stage, and cannabis may interfere with this.

Additionally, the researchers called for more evidence that considers other factors.

Rick Simpson’s website also calls for people to make the oil themselves, which may pose legal implications in areas where cannabis is still illegal.

The website also suggests using solvents to clean the cannabis before use. People who improperly handle solvents may also put their health at risk.

There is no solid evidence to support the claims that RSO can cure cancer directly.

Although early research indicates cannabis shows some promise in treating cancer, it is not conclusive.

Scientists will need to conduct more research in humans, and clinical trials need to find strong evidence linking cannabis and cancer treatment before health experts can provide definitive conclusions.

RSO may help support cancer treatment in some cases. However, the long-term risks and effects of the oil are relatively unknown.

Anyone wishing to use THC or cannabis during cancer treatment should consult their doctor first.