Who is Rick Simpson and Why is His Medical Marijuana Oil Special?
Rick Simpson Oil, more commonly known as RSO, is one of the first examples of modern medical marijuana extracts. It was first introduced in the early 2000s and thanks to its powerful potency and therapeutic effects, it has since become a staple for many medical marijuana patients. To better understand RSO, its use and its benefits, let’s first learn about the man behind the medicine: Rick Simpson.
Who Is Rick Simpson?
Rick Simpson is best known as a medical marijuana cultivator and activist. Before he became a pioneer in the medical marijuana community, Simpson was an engineer working in Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s here that a work-related injury changed his life forever.
In the late 1990s, Simpson was removing asbestos from a poorly ventilated hospital boiler room when he collapsed from toxic fumes and knocked himself unconscious. Simpson was given immediate medical attention, however, he continued to suffer from dizziness and ringing in his ears (also known as tinnitus) for years following the incident.
Traditional pharmaceuticals and pain prescriptions failed to provide Simpson with the relief he so desperately needed. He started to research alternative forms of treatment and soon began growing and using marijuana. Finally, he was able to manage his symptoms—all from a plant in his garden no less!
Some years later, in 2003, Simpson was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma. This led him to further explore marijuana as medicine. Simpson read a study from The Journal of the National Cancer Institute in which Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC (the main psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana) was found to kill cancer cells in mice. Inspired, he extracted oil from his plants and methodically applied it to his skin. As the story goes, the cancerous growths on his arm disappeared in less than a week. From this point on, Simpson was a true believer in the medicinal benefits of marijuana and was determined to share his discovery with the world.
Notably, as a testament to his character and passion, Simpson chose not to patent his oil or his method of extraction. Instead, he encouraged RSO to be accessible to all who needed it.
What is RSO and How is it Made?
It’s up for debate but RSO can be defined as a full-spectrum extract—at least this is the case for Calypso. The buzzword ‘full-spectrum’ refers to full-spectrum cannabis oil (FSCO) or full-extract cannabis oil (FECO) in which all the compounds of the marijuana plant (e.g., flavonoids, phenols, fatty acids, terpenes, and cannabinoids) are maintained during extraction.
More research is needed, but there is reason to believe full-spectrum extracts can provide more therapeutic effects for patients. Specifically, experts note what’s called “The Entourage Effect” or the theory that marijuana compounds work together, and when taken together, produce a better effect than when taken alone. In other words, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Of course, it’s the method of extraction that determines if compounds can be stabilized and maintained. Ethanol, low heat, and patience can yield full-spectrum extracts. Other types of solvents like alcohol or butane can be used to extract RSO, however, at Calypso, we choose to follow best practices and use food-grade ethanol.
RSO can be extracted from any marijuana strain, though Indica-dominant strains (strains often associated with calming effects), as well as strains with high levels of THC, are desired. Depending on what strain is used, the color and consistency of RSO can differ. Some marijuana strains produce a light amber color with a gooey consistency, while others produce a dark, thick consistency like molasses. Nevertheless, the end product is a highly potent oil (>60% THC), which is why it’s recommended for patients with conditions that require a high dose of THC or for those who have a high tolerance to THC.
How is RSO Consumed?
RSO can be consumed in a multitude of ways, making it a versatile choice for patients with different conditions. In general, however, RSO is often applied as a topical or ingested orally. As such, Calypso provides two options for patients: (1) capsules and (2) syringes.
Capsules offer more precise dosing, while syringes can be used to squeeze oil under your tongue (sublingual), onto your skin (topical), as well as into foods or liquids (oral). Oral consumption results in slower onset, but long-lasting relief, compared to other methods.
Keep in mind, as a full-spectrum extract, RSO can be pungent and sometimes bitter to some patients! Luckily, its taste is easily masked with food or drinks. Good ‘fatty’ snacks like peanut butter, avocados, or yogurt are ideal options and can help increase your body’s absorption rate. Another idea is to freeze individual doses on a piece of parchment paper, then dilute the oil in your morning coffee or tea.
What About Dosing?
As mentioned earlier, Rick Simpson was transparent about his extraction method for RSO as well as his treatment experience. This led him to develop and share a regimen for others to follow based on his findings. Simpson recommends patients ‘start slow’ and allow the body to build up a tolerance to THC, then acclimate to its effects. Detailed dosage instructions can be reviewed on Simpson’s affiliated website.
Remember, dosing is patient-specific and should be based on your health condition(s) and biometrics, among other factors. Always consult a licensed medical marijuana physician to develop a treatment plan that’s right for you and your needs.