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RSO versus FECO: Understanding the Difference

RSO & FECO Understanding the Difference

There is a heated debate regarding terminology and differences between cannabis oil extracts. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO), whole plant medicine, and Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO); what is the difference and how can you benefit from using one over the other?

Let’s get one thing straight, FECO can always be RSO, but RSO is not always FECO. To understand this we need to first understand how RSO and FECO are made, what their applications are, and their key differences.

What are full extract cannabis oils?

To keep it as simple as possible, FECO products are the concentrated compounds of the cannabis plant. The cannabis flower and sometimes the leaves are used to make the oil extracts to allow patients to receive the maximum benefits from the entire cannabis plant.

How is cannabis oil made?

Each producer of cannabis oil has a different technique and extraction method. Depending on the extraction method, consistency in appearance and contents will vary. This is why the debate can get heated surrounding the names given to each cannabis oil.

Cannabis oil is made using a solvent to separate the plant matter from the cannabis or plant resin to create a hyper-concentration of cannabinoids. Depending on the solvent and strain used, and extraction method, you will produce a different product with varying degrees of cannabinoid and terpenoid potency.

How do cannabis oils work?

Because cannabis oils are made as a whole plant medicine they work naturally with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Cannabis oils work by saturating the endocannabinoid system with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, among others, to promote homeostasis in the body.

Cannabis oils, unlike other cannabis concentrates, are taken orally (usually from a syringe) which makes them more bioavailable. What does that mean? Bioavailability is important when medicating with cannabis because it determines how much of the medicinal matter is getting absorbed, entering circulation directly after being introduced into the body, and able to have an active effect.

Why is RSO different from FECO

The traditional method of extracting the cannabis oil from the plant matter, as outlined by Rick Simpson, strips the oil of all of its terpenes while FECO products keep all cannabinoid and terpenoid properties. This is primarily due to the solvent used during extraction. If you follow Rick Simpson’s at home extraction methods, which we do not recommend for safety reasons, you won’t be getting a FECO product. Instead, you could be getting a product that includes residue and traces of the solvents.

Why should you care that all of the plant’s qualities remain intact? Contrary to what Rick Simpson believes, terpenes play a big role in how the plant interacts with your biochemistry and aids in amplifying the cannabis plant’s therapeutic value. Terpenes not only give the cannabis the aroma’s we experience but depending on the concentration of certain terpenes, your cannabis will make you feel very differently.

Terpenes: What Are They & Why We Love Them

Terpenes are the essential oil compounds that exist in all plant matter, making them non-exclusive to cannabis, but they play a big part in how we use medical cannabis. In the cannabis plant, terpenes are produced in the same glands that produce THC and CBD and make up part of the flower’s sticky resin. They are what give plants their aromatic diversity and why certain strains have such unique scent profiles that we have come to identify with. Each terpenoid is also attributed to the effects we love in every cannabis strain.

More cannabis doctors and nurses are looking to terpene profiles to incorporate into what they recommend to their patients to alleviate ailments. Like cannabinoids (THC and CBD), terpenes bind to receptors in the brain and produce a variety of effects. However, when combined with other other compounds, terpene effects may change in their presence. We call this the entourage effect which makes medicine more effective; not only in potency but in its ability to target specific pain points on patients. For example, the piney aroma we love from Jack Herer is caused by the presence of pinene. Pinene is the reason why Jack wakes you up and keeps you alert while its medicinal benefits are the key to treating inflammation and pain.

Extraction and Choice of Solvents

To make a FECO product, you have to choose a solvent that will help retain as many of the terpenoids, flavonoids, and cannabinoids as possible. Rick Simpson’s method calls for isopropyl alcohol, naphtha or petroleum ether which destroys all of the natural terpenes. Not to mention those solvents are considered harmful, are flammable, and in some cases can be neurotoxic. These solvents are also considered cancer hazards in their material safety data sheets (MSDS). Many producers that opt to go this route sometimes add terpenes to the extracted product, but because of the solvent used, only limited beneficial scent molecules.

A quality full extract cannabis oil (FECO) is typically produced with food-grade ethanol. This solvent has been proven to retain the most terpenoid and cannabinoid profiles.


Why is FECO considered RSO?

Rick Simpson Oil is a cannabis oil that was dubbed RSO because it was developed by Rick Simpson and users followed his methodology of medicating dosage and production. That simple. Because of the variations of how people produce it, including strain and solvent used, the color will vary making it hard to rule out anything as RSO. However, most people identify RSO with a black tar-like substance, but color can vary from a transparent amber color to the black tar everyone knows.

FECO is just a full extract alternative to traditional RSO. Same use with more potential because of the fact that the cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles remain intact.

Rick Simpson Oil & Full Extract Cannabis Oil: Which One is Better?

Everyone’s biochemistry is different, so we can’t fairly rule out anything. FECO will give you a whole plant effectiveness, but some may not take well to the specific strains used or terpene content within the medicine. Some may not like the taste of FECO as keeping the terpenes retains the earthy flavor of cannabis, so one may turn to a traditional RSO.

The best way to medicate is by consulting a cannabis nurse or doctor so that they can guide you in which products are best suited for you. Consuming products that are lab tested for potency and terpene profile is also a good way to tailor your medicine. Without lab tests, you won’t know what is truly in your medicine.

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Opioid Dependence & Role of Cannabis in Treatment

Opioid Dependence

Opioid abuse and overdose has spiked in the last five years. Opioid overdoses increased by 65% from 2012 to 2014. Recent figures show that the average number of fatal overdoses per year in the United States is around 33,000, but in 2016 a government report showed 64,000 deaths from drug overdose overall and more than 50% of those deaths were from opiates. A dramatic increase in fatal overdoses has caused many to find an alternative to opiates for pain relief and alternative treatment methods.

Opiate vs. Opioid: What Are They & What’s The Difference?

An opiate refers to the chemical compound taken from opium (opium poppy) while an opioid refers to the synthetic drugs derived from opiate compounds – for example, heroin is an opioid. However, the term “opioid” has been used to describe all opiate and opioid compounds in recent culture.

Opiate Compounds:
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Thebaine
  • Papaverine
  • Narcotine
  • Narceine


Opioid Dependence

An opioid dependence is created when the body becomes accustomed to the presence of opioid induced dopamine that it becomes desensitized to the effects of the drug. More drugs are needed to achieve the same effect which increases the risk of an overdose.

How We Become Opioid Dependent
  1. Opioids attach to receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract (gi tract).
  2. Body releases dopamine (responsible for pain relief)
  3. Long-term production or large quantities of dopamine produced in a short-term, makes the body accustomed to certain dopamine levels requiring individuals to increase their opioid dose to maintain these levels.

Opioids prevent the body from interpreting pain – you still have pain, but the drug disrupts the channel of communication that signal your brain to recognize the pain. The problem is that opioids take away your body’s ability to manage pain with nociceptors, the sensory receptor for painful stimuli.

Current Treatment: Opioid Withdrawal

The current acceptable treatment for opioid dependence to wean patients off of opiates while minimizing withdrawal in opiate abusing patients is Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT). The problem with this method is that Methadone is an opioid. This is equivalent to moving an alcoholic from liquor to beer. It doesn’t treat the addiction. Using another opioid to treat opioid addiction leaves a high risk of abuse in methadone treatment. The risk is mitigated through a required daily clinic visit to obtain the methadone. However, this increases the chance of relapse as patients lose motivation to travel to a clinic or low income patients with barriers to transportation abandon treatment all together.

Cannabis and Opioid Withdrawal: Why Natural Makes Sense

Cannabis has become a common course for treating the symptoms of withdrawal because of its quality as a natural analgesic, mood booster and anti-inflammatory agent. Cannabis is also a safe option because there is a zero risk of fatality. Why? It takes 40,000 times the normal amount of cannabinoids to be considered a fatal dose – making this risk “impossible”

Symptom Relief with Cannabis:
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms/shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Cramping
  • Goosebumps/ body chills
  • Intense sweating
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Severe aches and pains


Pain Management & Cannabis

The most common prescription for medical cannabis is for pain management. Many doctors and nurses are prescribing cannabis to help wean their patients off of opioids.

Cannabinoids prevent opiate tolerance build up that causes opioid dependence. This helps doctors wean patients by allowing them to take fewer opioids for pain. This eventually turns into a treatment that replaces opioids with cannabis or uses a combination of opioids and cannabis to manage pain. Always consult with a naturopathic doctor or holistic nurse to help navigate the proper treatment path for you.

Microdosing & CBD: Products That Eliminate Fear of Psychoactivity

Microdosing is beneficial in pain management treatment because it maintains a minimum dose of cannabis in your system that yields the maximum relief. This eliminates the “high” feeling that can induce anxiety in many patients. Likewise, CBD is the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana that has pain relieving properties perfect for novice cannabis users or for patients that do not desire the “high” associated with high doses of THC.

Medicinal cannabis products like edibles or tinctures also make microdosing easier to manage as most of these products are pre-dosed or come with syringes to measure out precise dosage. Edible and tinctures produce longer lasting effects of the cannabis because they are metabolized differently than an inhaled cannabis product. Because both are ingested either sublingually or in the gi tract, these methods of consumption are inherently more bioavailable than smoking cannabis.

Microdosing Products Preferred by NDs
  • Myriam’s Hope
  • The CBD formula tinctures are easy to measure out and are made with high quality cannabis oil. Different formulas provide patients with high levels of CBD per ml dose. Formula A packs a 25 mg/ml punch while Formula B and C provide users with 50 mg/ml and 100 mg/ml respectively.

  • Veda Chews
  • The pre-dosed cannabis infused high CBD “medibles” are easy and convenient. The CBD formulas (gold 1:1 and silver 3:1) offer a non-psychoactive to minimally psychoactive effect with powerful and effective relief of pain, nausea, and inflammation.

Cannabis should be considered as a viable and effective way to deal with opioid addiction and withdrawal. Work with a trusted naturopathic doctor or homeopathic nurse who is trained in clinical cannabinoid medicine and/or chronic pain management with cannabis.

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Topical Cannabis – More Than Localized Pain Relief

Topical Cannabis

Topical cannabis is not a new concept. Rubbing cannabis as a localized method of treating pain and finding superficial relief from tension and muscle soreness has been used by ancient civilizations including ancient China, Egypt and Greece. The resurgence of topical cannabis is helping many treat ailments without the psychoactive effects commonly associated with consuming cannabis.

Traditional Treatments Using Topical Cannabis

The most common use for topical cannabis, as well as medically prescribed cannabis, is pain. The modern cannabis user applies topical cannabis as a supplement to other forms of consumption for the treatment of sore muscles, inflammation, tension, and localized pain relief.

Topical Cannabis for Skincare

Besides treating tension and sore muscles topical application of cannabis is helpful for headaches and cramping too. Furthermore, skincare benefits through the topical method of consumption comes from its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Because of these properties, cannabis has proven a good ally for treating skin conditions including:

  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Itchy skin

How do they work to treat your skin? While THC has antioxidant properties, CBD is the real powerhouse of the cannabinoids. CBD, in a 1998 study, was found to have more powerful antioxidants than vitamin E and C. What does that mean? Antioxidants protect skin from free radicals, which are unstable molecules that harm cells and cause damage on a spectrum that ranges anywhere from early aging to cancer. Another way cannabis helps protect skin is by aiding with the aging process – cannabis can become the new hero in the fight against wrinkles and aging skin. There are a few reasons for its rejuvenating properties, but can mainly be attributed to the moisturizing and sun protection provided through the seed oil.

Different topicals interact differently with skin conditions depending on the cannabinoid content (THC versus CBD) and the composition of its other ingredients. Work with an experienced naturopathic doctor or holistic nurse to make sure you are choosing the right product for your condition.


If you plan on using topical cannabis as part of your skincare routine we suggest applying after a hot shower – your pores will be open and absorption will be more effective. Be generous with it and don’t be shy about a second… or third application.

Getting Intimate with Topical Cannabis

Cannabis and sex is not a new concept – the history behind it extends into ancient history and cannabis topicals is just one method of consumption to consume to improve sex. By now most people have seen or heard of topical cannabis products lines that include personal lubricants and suppositories, and we know you may have some questions.

How do they work?

Because of the increased bioavailability found in mucus membranes in the genital region, cannabis topicals designed for personal pleasure are able to target a zone and minimize the psychoactive effects.

What do they do?

These lines of products all aim to do one thing – relax the region so you can focus on feeling good. However, some might work better for your biochemistry or needs.

Personal Lubricants: FORIA Pleasure led the pack with personal lubricants. This topical cannabis awakens your libido, makes you more sensitive and relaxes the region for maximum enjoyment. When your body is relaxed and nerve endings are brought on-line, you are more likely to achieve and maintain a state of orgasm.

Suppositories: Much like the personal lubricants, anal suppositories can serve as a good way to explore new horizons. Anal suppositories help relax the region and enhance sensations to reach another level of euphoria with your partner.

What are the benefits?

Besides feeling good, cannabis can have a benefit beyond the physical when used during intimacy. Whether you are using cannabis topicals for massage or play, they aide in partner bonding and increasing connectivity. They help keep things interesting which ultimately helps maintain chemistry and sexual attraction in your relationship.

Are there risks?

Always check products for ingredients you may be allergic to, but the main risk involved with using cannabis topicals for sex is that most are made with an oil or wax based binder for the cannabis oil – this means that they are NOT latex friendly, but if you use alternative forms of protection you should be fine.

Whether you decide to use cannabis topicals to treat localized pain, for skincare, or for play – topical cannabis is a good method to try for novice users or to supplement other consumption methods. It is all the benefits of cannabis without adding the psychoactive commitment that comes with other methods of consumption.

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Cannabis Topicals: What They Are & How They Work

Cannabis Topicals

Cannabis topicals are gaining popularity and ridding a lot of public opinion regarding the use of cannabis and its effectiveness. Cannabis infused topicals are proving that you don’t have to get high for cannabis to be effective.

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

So what are they? Cannabis topicals are cannabis infused lotions, balms and oils that are absorbed through the skin and used as a localized treatment of ailments like pain, muscle soreness and inflammation.
Types Available:

  • Lotions
  • Creams
  • Balms
  • Oils
  • Sprays
  • Patches
  • Lubricants
  • Suppositories

Don’t just think of these topicals as a medical treatment. Cannabis topicals have come a long way and many manufacturers have included in there lines topicals for play. Which fits with the historical use of cannabis as an aphrodisiac, but don’t take our word for it.

How Cannabis Topicals Work

Cannabis infused topical products work through transdermal absorption. The cannabinoids found in the topicals bind to a network of CB2 receptors that are found all over the body – they can be activated naturally through the natural course of your endocannabinoid system or by introducing cannabinoids such as THC and/or CBD to the system.

Patients Who Use and What Are Its Uses?

The rise in topical popularity among cannabis users largely comes from patients who want the therapeutic benefits of marijuana without the cerebral euphoria from a high. It is a safe method of consumption for those that not only want to avoid the high, but for those who prefer not to smoke or consume edibles to get the healing found through cannabis use.
Commonly Treated Ailments Using Cannabis Topicals

  • Pain
  • Muscle soreness
  • Tension
  • Inflammation
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Itching
  • Cramping

Different topicals have different benefits and target a variety of ailments depending on the specific cannabinoids they deliver and other ingredients used in the product.

Why Don’t Topicals Get You High?

Most cannabis infused topicals, even with active THC, cannot breach the bloodstream when absorbed transdermally and won’t cross the blood brain barrier as a result. Although feeling the relief from pain or surface level aches and inflammation might be euphoric, it isn’t a psychoactive effect from the topical product used.
Everything Has An Exception

Transdermal patches are the only exception to the non-ability to get you high. Why? Patches do deliver cannabinoids to your bloodstream and if there is enough THC in the product, it can yield psychoactive effects often associated with cannabis use.

Now that recreational use is legal in the state of California, it can be expected that we will only see a rise in innovation with consumption methods and for advancement in the effectiveness of existing consumption methods to happen.

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California, Cannabis & What is Legal Use

legal use of weed in CA

Now that California has opened up to recreational sales and legal use of cannabis, many may be left wondering – what does this mean? What exactly does legalized cannabis mean? Below is a basic guideline to help you navigate the complicated arena between medical cannabis and recreational or adult-use cannabis.

Who Can Buy Cannabis?

The age and legal requirement for people that want to buy cannabis is different depending on whether it is for medical use or adult-use.

Medical Use Cannabis
  • Persons 18 years and older in possession of either a VALID county issued MMIC or valid physician rec
  • Be a primary caregiver of a person possessing either rec – section 11362.7(d) or 11362.5(e)
Legal Use of Recreational Cannabis
  • Persons 21 or older can buy cannabis from a licensed dispensary or delivery service

Benefits to Medical Rec

Now that recreational cannabis is legal to buy in California some may want to toss out their medical rec and save on the cost of renewing their current medical rec. NOT SO FAST! If you have a county issued medical rec you do not have to pay sales and use taxes on medical cannabis products – other taxes may apply, but you’d be saving at least 7.75% from sales tax.

So What Exactly is Legal & What is NOT: Adult-Use Cannabis?

The list for legal use and illegal use may be extensive, but we have highlighted some of the guidelines you can expect:

Legal Use

  • Persons 21 and older can buy cannabis products
  • Persons 21 and older can grow and cultivate up to six (6) cannabis plants for personal use provided that they be locked up and out of public view
  • Consuming cannabis on private property is allowed


  • Cannot consume in public or within 1,000 feet of a school, rec center, or youth center
  • Cannot consume while you drive or operate a vehicle or boat
  • Cannot have an open container in your vehicle
  • Cannot consume on federal lands such as national parks (still federally illegal)
  • Cannot transport across state lines even if traveling to another state that has legalized cannabis

For a more comprehensive list of what is legal, check out the California Department of Public Health website.

Final Note – Jobs & Cannabis Consumption

Remember, even though the recreational use of cannabis is now legal use of cannabis, employers can still prohibit its use by their employees. This is still true if you are a medical cannabis user in many states – know the law and your rights under ADA in your state and locally. An informed decision to consume cannabis is always recommended.