RSO & Cancer – The Real Scoop
RSO has been touted by its namesake Rick Simpson as a ‘cure-all’, going so far as to profess RSO is even able to cure cancer. Rick begins his story sharing about how he believes he cured his own skin cancer with topical applications of his namesake concentrate. Before you get too excited, this is a claim that science has yet to prove in human subjects. Interestingly, the US Government acknowledges that cannabis can kill cancer cells in the laboratory. These observations have yet to be proved in human test subjects by mainstream science, although some in the medical community continue to call for human trials.
Manuel Guzman has conducted the only phase I clinical trial known of which uses THC to treat cancer. Although the trial lacked a control group he concluded, “the results obtained suggested that some patients responded -at least partially- to THC treatment in terms of decreased tumour growth rate, as evaluated by imaging and biomarker analyses.” MRI scans of the tumors showed a reduction in physical size, and DNA biomarkers also identified the tumor as shrinking. If you have not already, please watch The Scientist, which is the documentary about Raphael Mechoulam (the man who first isolated THC in 1964, considered the grandfather of modern cannabis and endocannabinoid system research) which features a segment called “Can Cannabis Cure Cancer?” If you do only one thing I ask of you ever, please make it me this one thing and watch this documentary. There are strong indications which lead some to think cannabis may be an effective anticancer treatment for some cancers in humans.
The key to an effective cancer treatment is a substance which not only kills cancer but is also and most importantly non-toxic to the human body. Bleach can kill cancer cells, but is highly toxic to our bodies, and therefore makes it a really bad choice for human use. The most prominent cancer treatment used today is chemotherapy, it is such an aggressive and nondiscriminatory killer that it attacks healthy cells alongside cancerous cells. Some may find it utterly shocking to learn that modern chemotherapy is actually the first-cousin of mustard gas. That is the same poison which was deployed in chemical warfare starting in WWI. The treatment of cancer with modern chemotherapy as we know today was an idea inspired by the observations made of the deceased victims of mustard gas. The poison gas caused a significant reduction of white blood cell counts in the victims, which inspired scientists to dream that this agent could be used to kill other types of cells which divide and multiply quickly, like cancer cells.
Cannabis instead is non-toxic to the human body and has never once in history caused an overdose. If cannabinoids are able to help our bodies fight cancer, its benign nature would sure make for a better choice over chemotherapy. To be clear, I am not promoting cannabis as a cure for cancer, as science has yet to conclusively prove that to be the case in humans. Dr. Guzman notes that clearly saying, “…the current anecdotal evidence reported on this issue is pretty poor, and, unfortunately, remains far from supporting that cannabinoids are efficacious anticancer drugs for large patient populations.” While there may be inklings of a potential success, we have not gone all the way down to the bottom of the rabbit hole.
Before you sign yourself up for a lifetime of smoking cannabis to ward off cancer, remember that both Bob Marley and Tommy Chong developed cancer, and were arguably the two people who have smoked the most cannabis ever. Smoking anything inherently comes with carcinogenic chemicals, they are simply a by-product of the combustion process. So if you smoke your cannabis, please consider switching to vaporization of your flower, or a different consumption method altogether. Any smoke is bad, period, even including cannabis smoke. If you are diagnosed with cancer, remember before you swear off of conventional modern medicine, that the research still needs to be done to prove cannabis is an effective anticancer treatment.
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All About RSO
RSO is an acronym for Rick Simpson Oil and is one of the many forms of cannabis concentrate. Rick Simpson became a sort of a legend in the cannabis community after using the internet to unashamedly profess his true belief in the healing power of cannabis. He also beamed the instructions to make this concentrate (which later came to be called by his name) out to the whole world. There are other names for this concentrate such as ‘full extract cannabis oil’ (FECO) or ‘quick wash isopropyl’ (QWISO). Simply put, this type of cannabis concentrate is produced by washing cannabis plant material with a solvent that is able to dissolve the plant’s oily essence into a concentrated extract. The most commonly used solvent for RSO is isopropyl alcohol, but any solvent could be used. The main characteristic of RSO is that it is a whole plant extract, meaning nothing is added or removed from the plant’s natural chemical composition. After the initial solvent wash, the runoff from the cannabis plant material is collected, and then must be processed to ensure the removal of all residual solvent and the activation of the cannabinoids. When the word activation is used in regards to cannabinoids, it refers to the decarboxylation of the molecules. The decarboxylation ensures that THC-a (and other “-a” cannabinoids) will lose their “-a” tail, and become activated (or psychoactive), and as a side effect will cause the consumer to feel a mental high. RSO may be unadulterated or may be further refined to remove chlorophyll and lipids, also removed from plant material by the solvent, through a process known as winterization.
Do not confuse RSO with ‘real scientific hemp oil’ (RSHO) or any RSO products made with ‘hemp’, especially those which are manufactured using industrially farmed hemp. Although Rick may refer to his creation at times as ‘hemp oil’, do not allow his choice of names to confuse you and misrepresent the category of the source material. If you go to Rick Simpson’s website, you can see that he uses only top quality THC-rich cannabis in his production of what he calls Phoenix Tears (and the rest of the world calls RSO). In the cannabis world, hemp and cannabis may be the same plant, but each name implies different subcategories of cannabis plants. Hemp is used to refer to legally grown cannabis with less than 0.3% THC, typically used as some type of raw material to produce a secondary end product like fabric. In contrast, the word cannabis is used to refer to strains high in THC but can also include high CBD strains, which are typically used in a medical or wellness sense. So in short, cannabis RSO can feature THC or CBD as its majority cannabinoid, as reflected by the profile of its chosen source material. Be sure to be wary of where your RSO plant material is sourced from, and choose only the lab tested products available in legal Illinois dispensaries.
Many factors influence the resulting end product concentrate, most important being the selection of the source material. The techniques used in post-processing will also play a large role in the makeup, texture, and flavor of the final product. RSO typically has a cannabinoid potency above 90%, but may feature THC or CBD in the majority. RSO generally has a dark brown color in larger quantities, but will take on an amber golden hue when spread thin onto a surface. Its taste is commonly qualified as intense, akin to ‘spicy tree sap’, with a strong odor of the cannabis plant.
This type of concentrate is a whole plant extract, thereby maximizing the potential entourage effects of the selected strain by including terpenes, flavonoids, and all other minor chemicals of the plant. Cresco Labs RSO product lines are strain specific, so there is also no mixing of terpenes from different strains. Smoking cannabis as an ingestion method is not the most ideal avenue. This is mainly because smoke inherently contains carcinogenic chemicals (meaning known to cause cancer), which naturally occur in all forms of smoke as byproducts of combustion. Choosing ingestion in place of smoking would allow a patient to avoid the potentially damaging effects or irritation of smoke. It could also be possible to utilize RSO as a topical treatment. In Rick Simpson’s documentary “Run From The Cure“, Rick proudly tells the world that he believes he cured his skin cancer using his RSO to topically treat himself (To be clear, his claims have yet to be confirmed by mainstream scientific research). Patients can easily release their dose from the RSO package, and consume a measured amount of cannabis concentrate per their treatment plan.
RSO is another great consumption method available to Illinois medical cannabis patients. RSO can be ingested for slow onset and long-lasting efficacy or used as a topical treatment. Cresco Labs has just added RSO to the available product lineup! Please click here to locate the dispensary nearest to you, and discuss this new option with your patient care specialist!
What do you think about RSO? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments below or on Facebook!
Posted In: Science