Concentrates & Extracts
Untangling RSO and CBD Oil
Rachel Berzack– KIND Provisioning
1 September 2016
From exam rooms to newsrooms to your relatives’ living rooms, curiosity surrounding cannabis oil extraction and their medical applications seem to be proliferating by the day.
New patients entering the realms of cannabis treatment can quickly be inundated with hundreds of research papers, articles and anecdotal blog posts attempting to break down cannabis oil basics. While many of these explanations do a fine job of informing its readers, there still appears to be much confusion surrounding Rick Simpson Oil and CBD oil, two of the most medicinally beneficial and diverse cannabis extract options on the market.
Though CBD oil and Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) share similarities, they also come with significant differences. Despite these contrasts, media outlets and subjective accounts of cannabis oil regiments too often use the two terms synonymously. Predictably, this can lead to patient confusion, dosing misinformation, and unexpected side effects, none of which are desirable outcomes for people managing illness.
To begin with, RSO is cannabis oil that contains activated cannabinoids, either THC, CBD, or some combination of both. CBD oil refers to any oil concentration of isolated CBD.
More specifically, RSO denotes a specific extraction process that uses isopropyl or grain alcohol or another solvent like ether to draw out resins from the plant matter. The resins condense and the oily substance is then decarboxylated—or decarbed—a chemistry term for activating the THCa molecules so they rotate to the delta-9 position and transform into THC. This is the same process that occurs when dry flower is heated with a flame and smoked. Decarbing is one of the most unique aspects of RSO, since this allows a patient to directly consume the oil without having to add additional heat. Because of its activation, RSO can also be applied topically to problem areas on the skin. Rick Simpson himself, the extract’s namesake, applied the oil to his melanoma and documented the progressive shrinking of his tumors week after week.
RSO can be made using any cannabis strain, but it is recommended that heavy indica THC strains be utilized because of their higher resin production, stronger potency and the soothing sedative effects typically needed for healing and recovery. Cannabis strains that are high in CBD can also be used to make RSO; this is where CBD oil and RSO can be one in the same. However, CBD oil is not always CBD RSO, and comes with a bit more variance that is not always properly clarified.
CBD oil is any kind of extract taken from CBD-dominant cannabis or hemp. Hemp oil contains no trace of THC derivatives and will not induce any kind of psychoactive effects. Comparatively, CBD-dominant cannabis has all cannabinoids present in some quantity. That means that there are low percentages of THC and other compounds present in these extracts that may or may not produce heady, stoney effects depending on potency and the patient’s tolerance.
CBD RSO is one CBD oil option of a wide array to select from. The plant material used to make the RSO can be derived from either hemp or cannabis, so specification is crucial. There are myriad cannabis strains known for high CBD production, such as Cannatonic, Harlequin and Charlotte’s Web. CBD can also be extracted with other solvents to create CO2 oil, butane hash oil (BHO), or cooking oils like olive or vegetable.
With each concentrate comes some research and trialing before many individuals discover which one works best with their body. While it is refreshing to have the capability to safely experiment with these newly accessible healing alternatives, understanding the intricacies of their contents and preparations can have profound impacts on treatment paths and the efficacy with which patients walk them.
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