Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a cannabis oil, named after its eponymous creator Rick Simpson, a Canadian cannabis activist whose belief in the flower’s medical powers, and the ones of his creations in particular, is as fervent and unfaltering as anyone’s. Whether that belief is founded or not, is a far less straightforward matter.
When the bumps which had appeared on Simpson’s arm turned out to be cancerous, he decided to turn to cannabis, since he had previously and successfully used it to treat his dizzy spells and the ringing in his ears caused by a work accident. His faith in cannabis was further reinforced by a famous study in which THC killed cancer cells in mice. 
He applied RSO on his bumps with a bandage. His faith more than paid off, as his bumps miraculously disappeared after just four days.
This was the start of a lifelong, devoted advocacy for this method, undeterred by the police raids and prosecution Simpson went through. And on top of that, he sought no profit whatsoever – he distributed the oil free of charge and encourages patients to make their own.
Another famous 2014 study revealed a lot of promise regarding THC and CBD for indirectly fighting cancer as they augmented the effects of radiation against an aggressive type of brain cancer.  To this day, this study remains one of the strongest arguments for cannabis-aided cancer treatment.
Furthermore, THC is well-known to relieve inflammation, nausea, insomnia, and loss of appetite, which are all byproducts of cancer and chemotherapy. These properties shouldn’t be taken as cures for cancer, but rather as aids in the battle against it; they help other, central treatments take effect and make the process more tolerable.
It’s also worth mentioning that Simpson famously helped a girl with leukemia back in 2013, creating a cannabinoid resin extract which supposedly had a very positive effect on her cancer. That being said, she ended up dying from an unrelated gastrointestinal condition, which is why the whole case should be viewed as a promising starting point for further research rather than a definitive proof.
Other Benefits of RSO
In addition to relieving insomnia, inflammation, nausea, and loss of appetite, RSO is said to help with depression, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure, asthma, and arthritis.
Interestingly, some research suggests the compound can actually exacerbate certain cancerous cells. (3) These arguments are not against RSO per se, but against THC and CBD as a treatment for cancer altogether.
Another cause for concern is some of Simpson’s unorthodox methods like his experience using naphtha as a solvent, which shouldn’t be attempted by any DIY enthusiasts for obvious safety reasons.
Overall, RSO certainly has demonstrated a lot of promise, but further research is needed to help the oil reach its full potential.
- Munson AE et al, Antineoplastic activity of cannabinoids, J Natl Cancer Inst., 1975, 55(3):597-602.[Journal Impact Factor = 12.589; Times Cited = 264]
- Scott et al, The Combination of Cannabidiol and Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol Enhances the Anticancer Effects of Radiation in an Orthotopic Murine Glioma Model, AACR Journals, 2014, 13(12):2955-67.[Journal Impact Factor = 24.373, Times Cited = 87]
Hart et al, Cannabinoids Induce Cancer Cell Proliferation via Tumor Necrosis Factor α-Converting Enzyme (TACE/ADAM17)-Mediated Transactivation of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor, AACR Journals, 2004,Vol. 64(6):1943-50.[Journal Impact Factor = 24.373, Times Cited = 237]