The Dangers Of Making And Using Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
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The Dangers Of Making And Using Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ted Bender, Ph.D., LCDC

January 24, 2019

Rick Simpson Oil is a cannabis oil derived from marijuana plants. Proponents of this oil have said that it is an effective cure for cancer and can even help individuals with asthma and opioid detoxes. Using this oil, however, comes with many risks that may outweigh the benefits.

Rick Simpson Oil was pioneered by a medical marijuana activist of the same name. His primary claim is that it can cure cancer, however, proponents also suggest that it could be beneficial for asthma, epilepsy, and other medicinal purposes, including opioid detoxes.

Critics of RSO assert there isn’t enough medical research to back these claims, and that the risks of making and using Rick Simpson oil may outweigh the benefits.

What Is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?

Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO as its supporters refer to it, is a cannabis oil made from the marijuana plant. Unlike other oils, RSO contains high amounts of THC, the active compound in marijuana which creates the trademark, mind-altering high.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oils are cannabis extract oils also used for medicinal purposes, however, these oils are typically made from the hemp plant. Cannabidiol oils contain high amounts of CBD and very little THC, whereas Rick Simpson Oil contains up to 90 percent THC and small amounts of CBD.

The Dangers Of Making Rick Simpson Oil

While Rick Simpson Oil may be purchased, many individuals opt to make it on their own. Doing so often requires toxic chemicals, making this a very dangerous endeavor. In the wrong hands, namely, individuals seeking to make their own cure, these toxins could cause great bodily harm and injury.

In order to extract the THC from the marijuana for Rick Simpson Oil, a solvent is frequently used. While other oil preparations use a human-grade consumption solvent, such as ethanol (what we know as the beverage, alcohol), Rick Simpson suggests using naphtha (commonly used in camping fuel), petroleum ether, or isopropyl alcohol, all of which are unsafe and toxic poisons if consumed.

Naphtha is highly explosive. In the least, individuals could burn themselves, or, in the worst instances, cause their home or other “cooking” location to explode. Additionally, if the extract is made in a plastic container, it’s claimed that the naphtha will begin to eat away at the plastic, introducing even more toxic compounds into the oil.

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While not as combustible as naphtha, isopropyl alcohol is also flammable and toxic, presenting similar risks. Naphtha and petroleum ether have been referred to as cancer hazards, which completely negate the reason why many people use this oil. These substances may also be neurotoxic or cause damage to a person’s brain. All of these substances produce vaporous fumes, causing potential irritation and damage to a person’s lungs.

In theory, naphtha and other solvents should be purged from the final product. Dangerously inexperienced makers may not fully purge it, effectively poisoning themselves or a loved one. This is because the residue of the solvent may remain in the RSO when people consume it.

Anecdotal reports cite that other individuals use acetone (the active ingredient in nail polish remover), a substance which carries many of the same risks.

The Dangers Of Using RSO For An Opioid Detox

An individual seeking to detox from opioids by using Rick Simpson Oil could be endangering their safety and sobriety.

Opioids cause some of the most severe addictions. Specifically, opioids cause people using them to form strong physical dependencies. Dependency happens when a person suffers from withdrawal when they stop using an opioid drug.

Opioid withdrawal should never be treated at home, without medical supervision. Doing so cuts a person off from medical treatments, which could be necessary should a person relapse or face unforeseen complications.

Though the symptoms of opioid withdrawal are not in themselves life-threatening, certain complications which result from them may be.

A medically-supervised detoxification program uses evidenced-based medications to ease and reduce cravings and other symptoms of withdrawal. In addition, the highly-trained medical staff is on hand with medical services, should any complications arise.

Opioid withdrawal can become very overwhelming, especially the intense cravings which accompany it. Without the intervention of trained addiction specialists, a person is far more likely to return to opioid abuse to alleviate these feelings.

Other Dangers Of Using Rick Simpson Cannabis Oil

While there are many claims touting the benefits of Rick Simpson Oil as a “cure” for cancer, there isn’t evidence substantiating that this is a complete cure or of its efficacy to a reliable extent. While cannabis oils may offer medical and therapeutic value to patients, relying on this oil as a cure could have dangerous, and even deadly, results.

By believing that RSO is a cure, many people may effectively cut themselves off from life-saving medications, treatments, and advice from trained medical doctors. This could cause a disease to worsen, even to the point of becoming life-threatening.

On Rick Simpson’s website, he notes that the oil may react with certain medications. As a response to this, he suggests that individuals reduce, and even stop, their medications. Stopping any prescribed medication without a doctor’s express guidance can be harmful to a person’s health and recovery. He even goes so far to suggest that diabetics may not need as much, or even any, insulin, a claim which could be very dangerous.

In order to make RSO, individuals need large amounts of marijuana. It could be illegal to possess these amounts, exposing an individual to the risk of legal prosecution, fines, and jail time.

Lastly, Rick Simpson Oil contains THC. When made at home, this amount isn’t standardized, meaning it isn’t a set, measurable amount. This means that an individual won’t know exactly how much they’re taking in a single dose, potentially leading to extreme intoxication. Even more, individuals accustomed to CBD oils may not expect to get high. CBD isn’t psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t create the mind-altering properties that THC does.

Contrary to popular belief, marijuana is addictive. As taking THC-infused Rick Simpson Oil will elicit a high, an individual could develop patterns of drug-seeking and used to obtain these pleasurable feelings in the future. Or, an individual may progress to using marijuana in other forms, further increasing the risk of substance abuse and addiction.

We Can Help Treat Substance Use

If you’re fearful that a loved one is experimenting with Rick Simpson Oil or any other drug, you have a valid concern. Casual experimentation, even for the purpose of self-medication, can lead to frequent episodes of drug abuse and/or addiction.

Medical News Today - Everything You Need To Know About CBD Oil

ResearchGate - Cannabis Oil: Chemical Evaluation Of An Upcoming Cannabis-Based Medicine

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