In 2003, Rick Simpson used a self-made unrefined cannabis oil to treat his basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. Simpson had used medical cannabis in the past and believed in the medical powers of the cannabis plant. He claims to have applied his oil topically to his tumors, and within days, they had vanished. Simpson took it upon himself to spread the word of this miraculous cure, later called Rick Simpson Oil  (or RSO) in his name.

If you do choose to try this treatment, there are a few things you should know.

Does It Really Work?

Although Simpson’s physician and other medical professionals have refused to acknowledge the oil as a treatment, plenty of anecdotal evidence can be found online which paints RSO as a miracle cure. Studies do exist that show the safety of using cannabinoids in cancer patients, although these studies don’t demonstrate the effectiveness of cannabis as a cancer treatment.

Too few scientific studies have been done and as far as science and medicine are concerned, the results remain inconclusive. Larger and longer-term studies are needed to get a fuller understanding of how different cannabinoids and cannabis strains affect cancer cells.

The biggest risk associated with RSO (arguably) is if someone stops their doctor’s recommended cancer treatment in favour of RSO. If you are interested in using RSO or other cannabis extracts to treat cancer or the side effects of conventional treatments, talk to your doctor. If you are supplying patients with RSO, ensure that they are aware of the risks and have spoken to their physician.

Testing RSO

As a concentrate, RSO is extremely potent with a THC range of 60-90%. To guarantee careful and gradual dosing to avoid unpleasant side effects, testing prior to use is crucial. An additional point is to keep in mind the differences in each person’s body chemistry and tolerance levels. While finding the right dose can involve a lot of trial and error, knowing the potency of the RSO being used minimizes the uncertainty.

Another point to be made in favor of testing is the quality. While quality of a product is always a concern to the person using it, this becomes magnified when the product is consumed for medical purposes. THC is a psychoactive substance, meaning it can produce psychological effects such as paranoia, disorientation, anxiety, hallucinations, depression, and irritability.

Additionally, THC can cause physical side effects which include low blood pressure, bloodshot eyes, dizziness, slow digestion, sleeping issues, impaired motor control and reaction time, and impaired memory. These effects do not generally last longer than a few hours and pose no major health risks.

GemmaCert has developed a solution for cannabis potency analysis which is customized to also estimate the THC potency in RSO. GemmaCert devices are being used by patient groups and caregivers precisely for this reason. To use the device for this purpose, it is necessary to use the Extract Accessory. GemmaCert’s simplicity and efficiency provides real-time results for informed and safe dosing.