In the medical side of Cannabis, a product known as Rick Simpson Oil or simply RSO has become a staple. Many who use this product swear by it as a cure-all, citing everything from dealing with chronic pain, to treating gastric issues, and even so far as curing cancer! RSO was developed in 2003 by a man named Rick Simpson as a treatment for his metastatic skin cancer. After successfully treating himself and going into remission, Rick began promoting his oil nationwide, leading to the staple product that we have today. But what is RSO?
What is RSO?
Speaking from a chemical perspective, RSO is an extract made with ethanol and using the whole plant, from stalk to bud. It is made by soaking the plant matter in the ethyl alcohol for several months, simultaneously dissolving the active ingredients and activating the THC. The excess ethanol is then evaporated off and the resulting sticky black substance is RSO. Fully edible and entirely activated, RSO is, gram for gram, the most potent edible that one can ingest, save distillate.
Other Benefits of RSO
In addition to RSO being an easier method of consumption, there are also various other benefits. Being a whole-plant extract, RSO contains a very strong terpenoid and cannabinoid profile. While present in regular bud, these compounds act very differently when ingested instead of smoked. Due to being processed by the liver and carried through the bloodstream at a slower rate, these compounds have a greater availability within your body allowing one to get the most out of their RSO in medical terms. Another plus to consuming RSO is the elimination of the need to smoke, removing the one potentially hazardous aspect of cannabis consumption. Heck, the only downside to RSO in my experience has been the taste, which is very planty, somewhat like wheatgrass but with a more “weedy” flavor.
Cannabis stem tea is another way to infuse your tea with weed. However, stems of the cannabis bud are not very high in THC. Therefore, you will need to collect a lot of stems to formulate this base infusion.
There are many other ways to create a marijuana infused tea. This weed tea provides the perfect route if you’re looking for a way to use your entire cannabis plant.
Tea made with cannabis sugar
This is a super easy and favorite way to make THC tea. Simply make tea like you always would, and add a dash of cannabis sugar to your cup. Weed infused sugar is made by combining a THC tincture and white crystal sugar. You must air dry the combination overnight. Once you have a fair amount of THC sugar ready, you add it into tea, coffee, cocktails or any cannabis edible that needs sweetening.
If you do not like sugar in your tea, you can simply add cannabis tincture to your warm weed beverage. Using a tincture in your hot drink will ensure that everything will dissolve nicely while allowing the THC to spread evenly throughout your beverage. Additionally, this is a much better alternative to using cannabis butter or oil in your tea.
Cannabis Tea made with THC oil powder
Another way to make THC infused tea is by creating cannabis oil powder. You can even create tea bags in advance and use them at a later time. Cannabis oil powder is a more bio-available option to dosing weed recipes. Excitingly, weed powder will even allow the effect THC to kick in faster than a standard infusion.
To dose a plain tea bag, simply add a teaspoon of your favorite herbals and a teaspoon of THC powder to an empty sachet. When you are making a cup of tea, insert the tea bag into hot water. The cannabis powder that your tea bag contains will dissolve when it touches the liquid, thusly infusing your tea with cannabis.
How to dose? How to use?
Thankfully, RSO is an activated formulation, meaning no heat needs to be applied to the product when consuming it. Because of this, patients have many options on how to administer it. RSO has a strong, bitter taste that can linger, so I always suggest to take it with a snack high in fats (like a spoonful of peanut butter, avocado, or yogurt) to not only mask its bitter taste, but to increase its absorption throughout the body. We have some patients who like to freeze individual doses on a piece of parchment paper, and then dilute it in their morning tea or coffee.
As the oil is potent, we advise to start low and slowly increase doses only after four or more days of consistent consumption. We recommend measuring doses in comparison to the size of a dry grain of rice. A typical dose is one rice grain. Patients new to cannabis should start with 1/3 of a rice grain size. More experienced patients may start with 1/2 the size of a rice grain.
Effects are generally felt within 30 minutes of sublingual (under the tongue) consumption and last up to 5 hours.
How to make RSO
Making your own RSO at home is not difficult, and the process isn’t all that different from making cannabutter or other kinds of infused cannabis oil. Rick Simpson recommends using indica cannabis strains for best results, although you can use any strain, especially if a particular one works best for your medical condition.
Rick Simpson Oil recipe
This recipe will produce the full 60 grams of oil for a 90-day treatment regimen. If you’re looking for a smaller treatment course, you can easily divide the recipe into smaller amounts. For example, one ounce of cannabis will produce 3-4 grams of RSO.
- 1 pound of dried cannabis material (indica strain)
- 2 gallons of solvent—Rick recommends 99% isopropyl alcohol, but you can also use wood grain alcohol
- 5-gallon bucket
- Deep bowl
- Wooden spoon for stirring
- Rice cooker
- Plastic catheter tip syringe (60mL)
- Place dry cannabis material into the 5-gallon bucket and pour in the solvent until the plant matter is covered.
- Stir and crush the plant material with your wooden spoon while adding the solvent to your mixture. Continue stirring the mixture for about three minutes while the THC dissolves into the solvent. This will dissolve about 80% of the THC into the solvent.
- Drain the solvent from the plant material into your bowl using the cheesecloth. Place the plant material back in the bucket and add more solvent. Continue stirring for another three minutes.
- Drain the solvent from your plant material into your bowl using the cheesecloth and discard the remaining plant material.
- Transfer your solvent to your rice cooker until it is about ¾ full and turn on your rice cooker.
Note: While you don’t necessarily need a rice cooker, if you’ve never made RSO before, rice cookers are exceptionally useful in this instance for maintaining a slow, steady temperature. If your mixture heats above 300°F (148°C), the cannabinoids will cook off and the RSO will be unusable. It is not recommended to use a Crockpot or slow cooker, as this may overheat your mixture.
- The rice cooker should maintain a steady temperature between 210-230°F (100-110°C), which is the correct heat setting for decarboxylation to occur.
- As the rice cooker heats up, the solvent will slowly evaporate. Continue to add your mixture to the rice cooker gradually.
Note: Make sure your rice cooker is in an open, well-ventilated area, and avoid all flames, stovetops, sparks, and cigarettes, as the solvent is highly combustible.
- Once the solvent has evaporated, siphon the oil into your syringe for easy dosing. The RSO will be thick, so if you have trouble dispensing it, run the syringe under hot water and the RSO mixture should dispense with ease.
Tips from the Pharmacist
- Because RSO is consumed orally, you will find it categorized under “Infused Edibles” on our menu.
- If you have trouble extracting a dose from the syringe, try submerging the syringe in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the oil to loosen. Make sure the cap is securely fastened prior to doing so.
- In terms of THC content, RSO can be up to four times stronger than most dry leaf forms. It can be microdosed and utilized cost-effectively, but be sure to consult with your medical marijuana pharmacist.
- If self-dosing with an RSO syringe intimidates you (you’re not alone!), you can also look for RSO available in capsules on our menu.
I believe that cannabis is easily the most diverse plant in how vastly it is utilized across a variety of medical conditions. We still don’t fully understand all the ways in which it can be consumed. But if you’re looking to try something new in your wellness journey that offers you the benefits of a whole plant experience, I recommend giving RSO a shot. Just remember: start low, and go slow.